Most NFL fans badly want to see the 2020 season happen, but Detroit Lions fans can be counted as being especially in that category given the nature of their readiness for this year.
Most of the offseason, the team has been making moves designed to improve their roster and charge some excitement into a fanbase that is still reeling off the disaster that was 2019. Suddenly, though, the coronavirus pandemic is threatening the season, and that has sone fans downright nervous.
One of the team’s most vocal super fans can be counted in that category. Evan Fox, who’s a producer for the Pat McAfee Show, thinks the Lions could be heading for what could be a historic season in which they win a playoff game if things aren’t taken away.
The Lions as most know haven’t won a playoff game since 1992 and an NFC North since 1993. If they finished with a 10-6 record, they’d be in good shape to potentially win the division given what happens elsewhere. Regardless, Fox thinks that this season will be one to watch for Detroit in terms of the accomplishment of a playoff victory.
That is, of course, if the season is able to happen at all. It would be the worst kind of fate if a potentially promising Lions season as Fox describes is cut short.
Lions Pegged for Disaster 2020 Season
Unlike Fox, many aren’t especially high on the Lions having a great year whatsoever. One such person is Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report. Recently, Davenport predicted records for every team in the league by division, and when it came to the NFC North, he saw the Lions occupying a familiar spot.
Davenport had Detroit with a 5-11 record, which would be an improvement on 2019’s finish, but only a modest one, and likely not the type of strides the team needs to make in order to satisfy ownership ahead of a critical season on the field.
“The Detroit Lions have made the playoffs only three times since the turn of the century. They haven’t won a playoff game since 1991 and haven’t won 10 games in a season since going 11-5 in 2014.
The Lions aren’t winning 10 games in 2020, either—or making the playoffs.
Fresh off a 3-12-1 mess of a 2019 season, the Lions are tied for the league’s fifth-hardest schedule this year. Beyond four games against in-division playoff teams in Minnesota and Green Bay, the Lions face three more teams that made the postseason in 2019—the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints at home and the Tennessee Titans on the road.
The Lions may be marginally better in 2020, but they aren’t going to be especially good.”
Obviously, this type of season would be bad news for the Lions, but it’s par for the course of what many expect coming into this season on the field.
Lions 2020 Schedule Difficulty Ranked
Most know the inherent difficulty the team will face within their own division, but how about from the schedule as a whole? Recently, CBS Sports looked at breaking down every team’s schedule from the hardest in the league to the easiest. Theoretically, the Lions should be sitting in a favorable spot as it relates to next season given the teams they will play.
The site and writer Jared Dubin used over-under totals from opponents to rank the 2020 schedule. What he found when it came to Detroit was a team that will have one of the easier schedules in the league this coming season. The Lions have one of the lower opponent strength of schedules in the league, which leads them to have a fairly easy schedule.
As a whole, the schedule is the 7th easiest in football for 2020. That, combined with the upgrades the Lions have made and a hopeful return to health might put even more pressure on Matt Patricia and company to have a successful season and win bigger than they have.
Naturally, even the worst of teams from 2019 have improved, so while the schedule might seem a bit lighter now, that’s not always how it works out when the games begin.
Lions Called 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.
The 2020 season could be one for the history books many think, providing it is able to happen.