‘I Think They Can Compete:’ ESPN Analyst Hops on Lions Bandwagon

Matthew Stafford

Getty Matthew Stafford during a game against the Chargers.

The Detroit Lions don’t typically generate a ton of buzz from the mainstream media, but heading into the 2020 season, they’re starting to receive their fair share of hype.

Many are beginning to see the Lions as a threat to do some damage in the 2020 season, and now ESPN personality Mina Kimes can be counted as someone on the bandwagon of the team. As she admitted on the ESPN Daily Podcast, the Lions are a team she’s beginning to take seriously as a threat this coming season.

“Fans of this team are going to be so angry I mentioned them. They’re really beaten all the hope right out of their system. I kind of like Detroit. They were a lot better in 2019 than their record showed. They went 3-8-1 in one score games which is usually a good predictive metric for a team that is likely to bounce back. They also lost their starting quarterback Matthew Stafford to injury. Through the first 9 weeks of the season, they had the 4th most efficient passing attack in the NFL. He was playing tremendous football airing it out. If he can channel that gunslinger mentality again this year I really think they can compete in a wide open NFC North.”

It’s not just Kimes who is all in on Detroit. Marc Sessler of NFL.com admitted he’s beginning to think the Lions might just be a playoff team during the 2020 season.

All of this love ahead of the 2020 season is something new for the Lions and their fans, but it’s possible that everyone is right. The team is more than a bit underrated and is coming into a year where they should be greatly improved.

Lions Projected NFC North Winners by ESPN Personality

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.

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 Called Potential NFC North Sleeper

As Kimes says, she believes the NFC North is wide open, and that’s a theory which has gained some traction in recent months. Pro Football Focus analyst George Chahrouri agrees, and as he explained, 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.

All of a sudden, plenty of folks are starting to hop on the bandwagon and Kimes might just become the leader of the pack.

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