Nobody knows how the coronavirus pandemic might impact the 2020 NFL season, but most can agree the year will be unlike many in recent history.
All of that could add up to make the eventual Super Bowl champion unlike many others, and could even give the Detroit Lions a chance to finally hoist the Lombardi Trophy when all is said and done. If that sounds strange to you, you’re not alone, but there could be a good reason why.
Recently, Peter King of NBC Sports presented the thoughts of a team official, who outlined the scenario that a team out of the blue could win the biggest prize this season because of the wild environment coronavirus has created.
Here’s what King wrote:
“I’ve barely thought about the football part of football season, but I found it very interesting Saturday when one top club official said to me: “We could crown the Detroit Lions Super Bowl champs this year.” Huh? “Because this year’s going to be about who handles COVID the best. Suppose the Lions have zero people quarantined this year, while other teams have important players out for a while.” It’s like what Kyle Rudolph of the Vikings told me Saturday too: The team that handles the peripheral stuff best will have a huge edge, because this year the peripheral stuff will be as important as the on-field stuff.”
How the Lions manage the virus and the day to day rigors of a new environment could help them be very successful in the end, perhaps more so than a team that isn’t handling things well. So far, the team has done a great job with their virtual offseason, impressing their coach Matt Patricia. If that translates to training camp and then the regular season, the Lions will be in great shape.
The 2020 season will be wild considering it will be a matter of chance. Key players on teams could get sick and miss time while other teams could push through relatively unscathed. This type of environment could level the playing field for all of the teams in the league, giving a franchise like Detroit a chance.
Lions Called Super Bowl Sleeper
Detroit had what most consider to be a solid NFL Draft. They’ve also added meaningful pieces in free agency that understand the scheme and the expectations of the coaching staff. They also figure to get Matthew Stafford back completely healthy and ready to dominate. All of those factors could add up to make the team a sleeper in Super Bowl circles this season.
Recently, Bleacher Report picked out 5 teams they consider to be huge sleepers based on their odds and the situations they find themselves in entering the season. Detroit checked in at No. 2, and the biggest reason has to do with the fact that Stafford figures to return in great shape and give the team more elite results and leadership.
Writer Chris Roling picked out the Lions as a sleeper team to watch and provided this as the reasoning:
“Getting a healthy Matthew Stafford back under center should do wonders for the Detroit Lions.
A back injury limited Stafford to only eight games last season, but he completed 64.3 percent of his pass attempts for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns against only five interceptions before going down.
The Lions offense predictably imploded without Stafford, as backups David Blough and Jeff Driskel combined for more interceptions than passing touchdowns. No running back tallied more than 403 rushing yards, and the defense ranked 26th in points allowed per game (26.4).
Stafford’s return is the biggest reason for the Lions’ sleeper status, but another offseason of building to head coach Matt Patricia’s liking doesn’t hurt, either.
The Lions bolstered their offensive line by signing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai in free agency, and they replaced three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay with Desmond Trufant and No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah. They also grabbed every-down back D’Andre Swift with the No. 35 overall pick to give Stafford some instant-impact help.
The Lions came within four points of beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 last season, and they lost six other games by a touchdown or less. Continued smart additions to the roster around Stafford and an improving Trey Flowers-led defense give them major sleeper appeal.”
Detroit currently stands at 60-1 odds to take home the Super Bowl, but that bet could pay off handsomely for believers if the team is able to come together and solve some of their biggest problems. It’s certainly true that the team was closer than many realize to having better results on the field, and with better breaks and health might be able to do damage on the field.
For now, many might be ignoring the Lions, but eventually, that might be tough to do if things come together in this way next year.
Lions Pegged NFL Sleeper Team For 2020
Recently, Shaun O’Hara of the NFL Network was asked to name the sleeper team he thinks is going to make a push in 2020 and go from last to first place. As he also said, the answer is the Lions.
As O’Hara explained, the Lions have quietly been building something good and it could be time for it to take off.
“When you look at what Matt Patricia has been building the last few years, year 3, it’s go time now. You planted a lot of seeds, now it’s time for them to rise up,” he said. “This offseason it’s been a pipeline. Every former New England Patriot he could get he swallowed up. He’s bringing in some veteran leaders, some quality players. Offensively, you get D’Andre Swift in the second round of this draft. I love the way he runs the football. Physical, aggressive runner I love his running style.”
O’Hara went on to say that Swift will come in motivated after dropping in the draft, and that’s dangerous for the rest of the league. He also liked the team’s addition of Jeff Okudah at cornerback, and said as a result
“I think this Detroit Lions team is going to be awake and I think they are going to stay woke because of the way Matt Patricia is building this team,” O’Hara concluded.
After a dismal first few seasons under Patricia, the hope is that O’Hara is right. Clearly, though, he isn’t as down on the Lions as many others in his profession might be at this point in time.
It’s possible the Lions roster, plus the new environment they will be in will combine to make them a major sleeper in the months ahead. It might only help to make them a favorite to do something unheard of this season.
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