The Detroit Lions have been pushing through the offseason heading toward 2020, and they have been receiving various degrees of applause for what they have done to this point.
Recently, Pro Football Focus explained why they thought the Lions were a team to watch in 2020 and identified them as a possible quiet frontrunner in their division given their overall lack of weaknesses. In a video, the site explains why the team is a contender.
The analyst said:
“I know that Matt Patricia has some warts and he’s had a difficult time of it but I look at this team and I think there are less question marks about this team then there are of any team in the division. Matthew Stafford’s health is one of them, but it was kind of a flukey injury. He has not been injured other than his first few years in the league. They have a trio of receivers that I think are as good as any in the NFL. On defense they go ahead and get Jamie Collins, they get Desmond Trufant, they get Danny Shelton, Jayron Kearse, a former Viking, Reggie Ragland the former Chief. I think this team has a much better shot of competing for the division than anybody gives them credit for.”
PFF has given the Lions a ton of love as an under the radar contender in 2020, but this blurb sums up nicely why they think the team will take the next step. It could revolve around Stafford and some of the players they added to a very needy defense in free agency.
PFF Analyst: Lions NFC North Sleeper
As Pro Football Focus analyst George Chahrouri explained, the reason has everything to do with the division in which they play. It might not be so much the Lions but the fact that the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears won’t be as dangerous in 2020.
“You have the Packers who’s record was better than they actually were last season and added nothing this offseason. The Vikings who got rid of Stefon Diggs and have a ton of rookies that need to get acclimated. The Bears are starting Nick Foles at quarterback. If you’re telling me that division is not wide open, you’re crazy,” he said. “They get Matthew Stafford back who was top 3 in terms of positively graded pros last year until he went down. They should have beat the Chiefs if it weren’t for this fumble 6 they had. They do get back a great quarterback in Matthew Stafford. They can win that division.”
More than all of that, the Lions were close in nearly every game head to head against the division last year even without Stafford. They sustained some narrow losses to the Packers after leading nearly the whole game, and came within a few plays of beating the Bears a pair of times and the Vikings at home. The road loss to Minnesota wasn’t as big of a blowout as it could have been, either.
If the Lions are to contend, they will have to go through the NFC North with more success than they have the last few seasons. 2019 showed that even as miserable as the team may have been, there is still a chance at them doing just that in the minds of many.
PFF Bullish on Lions 2020 Odds
In a separate segment, Pro Football Focus recently took a look at predicting which teams could make the leap from worst to first during the 2020 NFL season. The Lions came up as one such team, and it was due to the possibility of them to have a solid offseason as well as benefit from their schedule.
“If there’s a team that’s gonna go from the bottom to the top, maybe it’s a team that has a decent situation and also a lot of draft capitol,” the analysts say to start the video.
Who is such a team? The answer was a quick one, and it was the Lions.
“It’s Detroit,” it was said. “Detroit’s a team, you look at the 49ers formula last season, it was get your quarterback healthy, improve defensively, get more turnovers, which is sort of like the reverse noise of the previous season and capitalize on a third or fourth place schedule. That’s Detroit.”
Additionally, if the Lions manage to make a bold draft move such as selecting a quarterback high, it might only improve their standing.
“If they take Tua (Tagovailoa) at No. 3, they have unequivocally the best quarterback situation in that entire division. The three other teams in their division all in the bottom end of draft capital, some in the bottom end in cap space, it’s Detroit. It’s a no-brainer.”
Though the Lions did not take Tagovailoa in the end, the fact they still have Stafford and a solid roster would seem to indicate most believe they could have a solid season on the field. It might remain a no-brainer to consider the team a potential sleeper in the making thanks to all they have done this offseason.
PFF has been driving the bus of Lions love this offseason, and it continues.