Lions Cited as Team Making Key Offseason Improvement for Playoffs

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell yells on the field during a Packers game in 2021.

The Detroit Lions are heading toward the 2022 season with some definite momentum following a solid offseason, and that is being reflected in the mood about the team.

Nationally, some folks seem to believe the Lions are in good shape for their future. Whether or not that equates to immediate winning has represented a difference of opinion, but some odds are taking a fresh look at how optimistic some folks could be of a turnaround.

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The Lions are one of five teams who have seen a fairly dramatic shift in terms of their future playoff odds. As a piece by Alex Kay of Bleacher Report pointed out, coming into the season, the Lions were seen as a playoff long shot based mostly on their 2021 finish, but now, the team is a +400 to make the postseason. That’s a significant turnaround, and not that much of a long shot at this point in time.

As Kay wrote, in spite of the frustration of not adding a young quarterback to the mix, “there is still upside for a winning season and playoff berth in the wake of a fantastic draft.” The reason? Mostly an improved defense as Kay notes, but an offense that has added some intriguing pieces to the mix as well in Jameson Williams and DJ Chark.

In spite of all the negatives that came with not bringing a flashy new quarterback into the mix, Kay believes “the team has a higher ceiling in 2022 and has positioned itself to become a viable contender when it finally lands another elite QB.”

Many believe that could be 2023, which could place the Lions as serious 2024-25 contenders. Even in spite of that, the team could surprise some folks and be a playoff team in 2022-23 perhaps ahead of schedule.

How Schedule Could Help Lions’ 2022 Playoff Push

Detroit’s slate is very interesting this coming season indeed, and if the Lions can build some momentum, it could be easy to see how the team could get things going and generate some positivity. The team will play at home three out of the first four weeks of the season. Detroit starts with Philadelphia and Washington at home before hitting the road to take on a Minnesota team they narrowly lost to on the road in 2021. Then, they come back home to take on a drastically changed Seattle team that has seen some major reconstruction this offseason. The Commanders aren’t trending toward being one of the best teams in the league, and whether the Eagles look as good as they did at times in 2021 is anyone’s guess. That’s a very friendly way to start the year for Detroit.

Fans may roll their eyes, but there is a good shot for the Lions to start out 3-1, or at the very least 2-2 with this home-friendly setup. That could prime them for a solid finish to the year after a tough middle of the slate plays out.

In terms of the finish, this year, providing Detroit doesn’t flail early, there is a chance the Lions could use a late post-Thanksgiving push to perhaps get themselves into playoff contention. From Week 13-17, the Lions will play teams that on paper, they should have a good chance at beating prior to finishing at Lambeau Field. Over that stretch, their toughest games could well be against either Minnesota at home or the New York Jets on the road. That sets Detroit up for either an epic fail to finish a lost season of tanking, or a legendary push to write an improbable playoff story.

The finish is looking as if it could be mighty favorable for the Lions and play a determining factor in how the 2022 season finishes. In the end, that could be a reason the Lions find a way to break through to the postseason if they can.

Lions Recent Playoff History Frustrating

As for the Lions themselves, the team hasn’t been in the playoffs a lot lately. The last time the team broke through to the postseason was in 2017 at the conclusion of the 2016 regular season. Detroit went on the road for a Wild Card game and lost against the Seattle Seahawks. Detroit pursued the playoffs the next year, but faded late in the season, which helped in the firing of Jim Caldwell. Under Matt Patricia, the Lions didn’t sniff the playoffs from 2018-2020 in spite of the notion that the coach could be the final piece of the puzzle for the team.

Detroit’s last playoff win was still in 1992, right around the time of their last division title which came in 1993. It was also their last home playoff win and home playoff game. Detroit cracked the postseason in 1994, 1997 and 1999, but bowed out every time, all on the road.

Dan Campbell, Brad Holmes and company have stiff odds to contend with in terms of turning things around in Detroit, but they might already be well on their way.

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Steve Schick
Steve Schick
1 month ago

Lots of hype about this year’s upcoming Lions team. It’s definitely better but still very young, and while much more talented, you can count on plenty of rookie mistakes. But that’s OK. The plan was for 2023 to be the breakout year and they seem to be well on track for that.

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