The Detroit Lions are a team that needs to take huge steps forward during the 2020 season, and many don’t see them being able to pull off such a feat when all is said and done.
Still, that hasn’t stopped many from believing in the court of public opinion. The latest person to feel this way is Adam Schein of NFL.com. Recently, Schein revealed a look at his top teams that could go worst to first, and Detroit was in prime position in his mind at No. 1 overall.
As for the reasoning, it was a familiar one, Schein thinks that the quarterback position in Detroit is solid, and the offense could be the key to getting the team over the top. Additionally, the schedule could set them up for a decent finish to the season.
“Matthew Stafford is a star, as he displayed in Darrell Bevell’s offense last year. Stafford’s 2019 campaign, of course, was limited to eight games by a back injury, but in that half-season, he stacked up some sparkling figures: 19:5 TD-to-INT ratio, 312.5 passing yards per game, 106.0 passer rating. Now it’s Year 2 in Bevell’s attack — no more learning curve! As I wrote last month, I can see the 32-year-old signal-caller leading the league in passing yards. Especially with Detroit’s receiving corps, which I love. Kenny Golladay broke out last season, snagging a league-high 11 touchdown catches and a Pro Bowl bid. Marvin Jones is a perfect No. 2, while Danny Amendola is a strong No. 3 in the slot. And I remain a big believer in tight end T.J. Hockenson. With better health and an NFL season under his belt, the 2019 first-rounder can become a stud. Meanwhile, in the 2020 NFL Draft, GM Bob Quinn stole D’Andre Swift in Round 2. I expect him to be in the mix for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Matt Patricia’s defense is beefed up, even after Darius Slay’s departure via trade. I will never believe Jeff Okudah was the third-best player in this year’s draft class, but I believe in him as a legit NFL corner. Danny Shelton, Jaimie Collins and Desmond Trufant were strong veteran pickups addressing needs on all three levels.
And check the schedule. Detroit can start 4-4. And then they play Washington and Carolina before hosting Houston on Thanksgiving. Thus, the Lions could hit December sitting pretty at 7-4.
As I alluded to above with my unenthusiastic Packers endorsement, I’m not ready to pull the trigger on Detroit winning its first NFC North title just yet. But it is very, very realistic. And you Lions fans need to start embracing it.”
Lions fans will likely never embrace their team as favorites for anything until they see them contend, but at the very least, it’s nice to see the national media is buying Detroit as a potential contender in 2020.
Lions Pegged Super Bowl Contender
The Lions have several factors which could lead many to proclaim them favorites to turn things around in a big way. First, Detroit has had what most consider to be a solid NFL Draft. They’ve also added meaningful pieces in free agency that understand the scheme and the expectations of the coaching staff. They also figure to get Matthew Stafford back completely healthy and ready to dominate.
Recently, Bleacher Report picked out 5 teams they consider to be huge sleepers based on their odds and the situations they find themselves in entering the season. Detroit checked in at No. 2, and the biggest reason has to do with the fact that Stafford figures to return in great shape and give the team more elite results and leadership.
Writer Chris Roling picked out the Lions as a sleeper team to watch and provided this as the reasoning:
“Getting a healthy Matthew Stafford back under center should do wonders for the Detroit Lions.
A back injury limited Stafford to only eight games last season, but he completed 64.3 percent of his pass attempts for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns against only five interceptions before going down.
The Lions offense predictably imploded without Stafford, as backups David Blough and Jeff Driskel combined for more interceptions than passing touchdowns. No running back tallied more than 403 rushing yards, and the defense ranked 26th in points allowed per game (26.4).
Stafford’s return is the biggest reason for the Lions’ sleeper status, but another offseason of building to head coach Matt Patricia’s liking doesn’t hurt, either.
The Lions bolstered their offensive line by signing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai in free agency, and they replaced three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay with Desmond Trufant and No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah. They also grabbed every-down back D’Andre Swift with the No. 35 overall pick to give Stafford some instant-impact help.
The Lions came within four points of beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 last season, and they lost six other games by a touchdown or less. Continued smart additions to the roster around Stafford and an improving Trey Flowers-led defense give them major sleeper appeal.”
Detroit currently stands at 60-1 odds to take home the Super Bowl, but that bet could pay off handsomely for believers if the team is able to come together and solve some of their biggest problems. It’s certainly true that the team was closer than many realize to having better results on the field, and with better breaks and health might be able to do damage on the field.
For now, many might be ignoring the Lions, but eventually, that might be tough to do if things come together in this way next year. Some even see a potential Super Bowl run in their future.
Peter King Predicts Great Season for Lions
Even though NBC Sports analyst Peter King doesn’t have the Lions ranked high in his power rankings at 26th, he does see potential for some large things in 2020.
As King explains, it’s a big season for many with the team and while Matthew Stafford hasn’t accomplished much at this point in his career, the Lions will have a powerful offense. What happens this season from there will be determined by the defense.
“But what will it mean? Detroit basically treaded water in the offseason, trading ace cornerback Darius Slay to Philadelphia and using the third pick in the draft on his replacement, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah. He’ll play opposite new cornerback Desmond Trufant, who comes from Atlanta after a disappointing end there. Patricia’s D needs to show progress after allowing a gaudy 24.5 points a game in his first two years, not the kind of performance the Lions expected when they hired the Belichick disciple two years ago. He’ll need strong performances from a couple of former Patriots who just arrived this year—instinctive safety Duron Harmon and roving linebacker Jamie Collins. I won’t be shocked if Detroit contends, because the Lions will score. The big question is the D.”
Many think the Lions actually improved their defense this offseason, even as others see the team basically doing nothing more than treading water. Either way, King is right. If Detroit’s defense steps up and has a big year, the team could stand to benefit by doing more winning than many would expect on the field.
Conditions could be ripe for a major turnaround in Detroit, and that could lead the team to pushing into first place from dead last when all is said and done.
READ NEXT: Lions Lineman Shows Physique With Pool Jump