The Detroit Lions made some NFL headlines in 2022 when they finished 9-8, and ended the season with major momentum down the stretch.
Now, heading toward the 2023 offseason, the goal of taking the next step remains out there for the Lions this coming season, and they are beginning to talk about taking the next steps for future winning.
One of Detroit’s most confident players in running back Jamaal Williams. Never shy about sharing his opinion, Williams did so again when joining ESPN’s First Take on radio row ahead of the Super Bowl.
Host Stephen A. Smith was talking about the intrigue level of the NFC North in 2023 with the Lions, Green Bay Packers with or without Aaron Rodgers and the Minnesota Vikings. Williams quickly cut him off and offered a mic-drop moment.
As shown in a tweet by user Everything Lions, Williams said the Lions are gunning for the division title next year and are going to take it. Why? He think the team has already turned the tide on being able to change their franchise fortunes.
“It don’t matter. We taking the (NFC) North. The change has started, like the tide of the season change has started. So that’s all I’m saying,” Williams said confidently on the show.
Detroit, of course, hasn’t won a division title since 1993, so it would be the first time in 30 years the team achieved the feat if it should happen.
Some might see this statement as bluster, but it’s actually confidence. The Lions feel good after an 8-2 finish to the year following a frustrating 1-6 start. Even though they missed the playoffs, confidence seems to be high in the team being able to make a run in the future.
Nobody might embody that confidence more than Williams, given what he accomplished and hopes to accomplish in the future.
State of NFC North Might Now Favor Lions
Detroit could have one major advantage over their competition in that they started their rebuild a few years early. That could help them be in prime position to compete in the division quicker.
Minnesota and Chicago both hit reset after the 2021-22 season, which means there could be some short and long-term pain yet to come for them in terms of roster building. The Packers still remain at the top of the heap, but after Aaron Rodgers leaves, all bets are off as it relates to the direction the franchise will take. They’ve got some strong pieces elsewhere on offense and defense, but elite quarterback play can prove to be a major driver of team success.
Minus Rodgers, the Packers could prove to be very average. By then, the Lions could be emerging from their rebuild a team ready to contend. Even with Rodgers, the Lions were 2-0 against Green Bay in 2022, and were 5-1 against the division as a whole.
While Chicago and Minnesota might have different timelines in coming years, the Lions could be seen as a team with a trajectory firmly planted in the upward position. Across the landscape in the division, it’s not easy to see lots of others in that same boat.
In terms of 2022, the Lions already did some damage to their division foes. There might only be more of that to come in the near future for the team if Williams is to be believed.
NFL Executives Feel Lions Could Win Division
This coming year, the Lions could actually be a threat to perhaps win the NFC North, and that’s not just in the mind of some of their own players.
ESPN analyst Jeremy Fowler did just that in a recent piece where he surveyed executives around the league for their take on various teams and player situations. When it came to Detroit, the Lions were seen as a team that could take big steps forward in the NFC North next season.
As Fowler wrote, with the momentum the Lions have built and their young roster, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them perhaps claim the NFC North, something some executives he spoke with were hypothesizing.
“Detroit finished the 2022 season as one of the league’s hottest teams and brings back most of its offensive nucleus along with a defense brimming with young talent. A healthy sophomore season for Jameson Williams should only propel Jared Goff, who has built a strong rapport with offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. A few people we spoke to floated Detroit as a divisional winner in 2023,” Fowler wrote in the piece.
The Lions did build plenty of momentum this season, and managed to have a solid 9-8 finish to the year which featured an 8-2 run down the stretch after a dismal 1-6 start to the season. That could help them as it relates to building confidence for the future.
Confidence is high in the Lions, both within and outside the building. Williams proved that once again with his bold statement about what he thinks is going to happen soon.