The Detroit Lions don’t have great odds to win their division for the first time since 1993, but that hasn’t stopped some analysts from buying them as a team firmly in the conversation to take home the award.
Recently, Matt Williamson of Yardbarker filmed a video breaking down Detroit’s prospects during the 2020 season. As he said, the team’s schedule
“The Lions don’t face a particularly daunting schedule in 2020, and are one of my favorite surprise teams. By no means am I claiming the Lions the favorites in the NFC North. But at their long Vegas odds, this is a bet I’d be really tempted to put a couple bucks down myself.”
Why is that? According to Williamson, the team has an elite offense that is set to break out and should be able to put up points now that Matthew Stafford is back and will be healthy this coming season. The defense is the major question, but as Williamson says, if they improve even just a small amount the team will be much better.
Will it lead to them winning the NFC North? Nobody can say, but it’s possible they could be a dark horse team to bet on in the long run.
Analyst Explains Why Lions Can Win NFC North
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.
Who is your NFL sleeper team in 2020? pic.twitter.com/39I7SE8zGE
— PFF (@PFF) June 11, 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.
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:
— Evan Fox (@evanfoxy) January 21, 2020
“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. In the end, that combined with the team’s own roster could help them be a team to be reckoned with in 2020.