Surprise Reason Revealed for Lions’ Status as NFL Sleeper in 2020

Aaron Rodgers Christian Jones

Getty Aaron Rodgers gets sacked by Christian Jones of the Lions.

The Detroit Lions are pushing toward a vital 2020 season on the field and they could be one of the most underrated teams in the entire league for an interesting reason.

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.

Chahrouri explains:

“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, 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.

Analyst Also Sees Lions Surging During 2020

Ahead of next season, hope has come in the form of the San Francisco 49ers, a team which went 4-12 a year ago, but surged to the top in 2019 and is now in the Super Bowl after a great run through the playoffs. Thanks to some of the parallels, many have begun to dream

On the Pat McAfee Show, contributor Evan Fox is a noted Lions fan. He spent some time hyping Detroit up this week as the next team to potentially follow in the footsteps of the 49ers and go worst to first, perhaps even worst to the Super Bowl in 2021.

Here’s a look at what he said on the show as to why that could be the case:

“Don’t sleep on the Lions,” Fox says to laughter. You got Jimmy Garoppolo going down, lose every game. Matthew Stafford goes down, lose every game. That allows them to get Nick Bosa. Lions are sitting there at No. 3, could get Chase Young. Kyle Shanahan’s third year as head coach, Matt Patricia’s third year as head coach.”

At the end of the clip, McAfee said he respects Fox for having such faith in the Lions. That’s true no matter how blind it might seem.

Even Matt Patricia isn’t sure he can predict such a fast turnaround for the team in 2020, but that won’t stop many from believing it is possible.

Perhaps the biggest reason why could be the team’s own division, which many perceive as weak.

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