The Detroit Lions have been mentioned as a potential Super Bowl sleeper this offseason, but that might not be reality as one analyst sees it.
Recently, Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated took a look at 12 teams he feels will be in the mix to win the Super Bowl this season. Detroit didn’t make the cut. Then, he looked at the 20 other teams he left out of that discussion and ranked them by either “stuck on the cusp,” “stuck in the middle” or “not ready.” Perhaps not surprisingly, the Lions placed last on that list in the final category.
As Orr explained, the Lions could be ready to once again make big changes rather than play in the big game:
“Oddly, Washington is the team I see climbing out of this hole most quickly, assuming that Dwayne Haskins continues to develop. On paper, they have a top-flight defense that could, with one or two more drafts, develop into something similar to what we saw in San Francisco. They have a good enough offensive line and some ascending star position players. The Giants and Bengals have the arrow pointing upward, while the Lions and Jaguars appear to be ready to bottom out before what could end up being a coaching change in both places.”
Detroit seems committed to their current regime, but that could change with another tough season on the field. How close are the Lions to having a better season in 2020, though? It might be more of a chance than Orr admits in this piece. The team has a healthy quarterback, what should be an improved defense, a better running game and new offensive linemen.
While all of those elements might not add up to a Super Bowl right away, it should make the team more competitive and give them a better chance to finish with a better record. It’s possible to admit the team might not win a Super Bowl while also saying that.
Nevertheless, Orr is more a believer in the Lions failing to have a relevant season and firing more folks rather than winning on the biggest stage.
Lions Called Super Bowl Sleeper for 2020
Why might the Lions actually be a Super Bowl sleeper? First, Detroit has 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.
COVID Could Help Make Lions Super Bowl Contender
It’s been an offseason unlike any other in NFL 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.
Orr probably wouldn’t agree with that line of thinking, but the good news? The games are played on the field and never on paper.