The Detroit Lions make a habit out of not winning their division and generally disappointing come playoff time, but it could be time for one of those variables to change in 2020.
Recently, ESPN analyst Dianna Russini admitted to feeling bold in the morning, and as part of that, she said she believes the Lions will end their elongated drought in the NFC North this coming season.
Feeling dangerous at 10am.
Bills’ QB Josh Allen is going to put the Bills in contention for a Super Bowl
The Detroit Lions will win their division.
Bold predictions with my bold coffee. The End.
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) July 28, 2020
No context was provided for the prediction, but if Russini was pushed, it’s likely she’d say she is excited about the team’s offense, the return of a healthy, elite quarterback and a defense which might not be able to be any worse than it was in 2019 in multiple ways.
The Lions haven’t won their division since 1993, so this would be a stunning accomplishment for the team all things considered. Detroit rarely finds themselves in the driver’s seat, but when they do, they routinely choke away the opportunity to get the job done and take home the crown.
It might be time to make history in terms of the NFC North if some are to be believed.
Lions Have Long NFL Division Drought
The fact remains that the Lions simply cannot win their own division or be in position to host a playoff game. Right now, the Lions are tied for having the longest streak of not winning their division since the league’s re-alignment in 2002. The other teams joining them with regards to this futility? The Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns.
An interesting #NFL tidbit: Since the current divisional alignment took effect in 2002, three teams have not won a division title – the #Lions in the NFC North, the #Bills in the AFC East, and the #Browns in the AFC North.
— Ron Clements (@Ron_Clements) July 16, 2020
Detroit’s streak can extend even further back than 2002. 9 years to be exact, considering the last time the team had a division title of any kind was in 1993 when they won the NFC Central. The Lions have only 4 division titles of any kind to their credit historically, so if they were ever able to win the NFC North, it would be a ground breaking accomplishment.
This has to be tops on the team’s list for the future if they want to turn the page from their classic struggles.
Former NFL Player Predicts Great Lions 2020 Record
Recently, the question was posed regarding what team analysts are taking a leap of faith on for the 2020 season. According to Shaun O’Hara, the Lions are that team, and he thinks they could make more than just a little bit of noise this coming season on the field. In fact, O’Hara is putting all his faith in Detroit.
— GMFB (@gmfb) July 24, 2020
“When you look back at what happened last year, before Matthew Stafford got hurt, he was lighting it up. When you look at Detroit and what they did this offseason, the infusion of talent on offense and defense. The Lions to me, I know they didn’t win a single game in the division. Their offense is very underrated. I think this offensive line is much improved. I think altogether the Lions, in that division, they’re going to be a contender. I’m not just saying they’re going to go 8-8.”
Most expect the Lions to simply go 8-8 or thereabouts most seasons at best, so O’Hara’s comment is a significant leap of faith in the team indeed. With modest improvements on defense, Detroit’s offense could be set to have a major season on the field which could lead in them winning big and having a better record than many predict.
If and when that happens, O’Hara can be the first to tell everyone he warned them first.
Lions Called Potential 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.
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.
While plenty might not go out on a limb to predict it, Russini certainly isn’t afraid to go bold with her 2020 projection.
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