The Detroit Lions have been a team that many have been calling potential dark-horse contenders in recent days, but few folks have gone on record as predicting that it will happen or how.
That changed in a major way with a new projection from ESPN’s Eric Woodyard. Woodyard, who covers the Lions for the site, watched the team suffer plenty of close defeats in 2021. As a result of that and some of the improvements the team has made, he’s ready to go out on a limb that things will be much better come this season.
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In a piece with some bold predictions after the 2022 schedule release, Woodyard’s key takeaway was how he believes the Lions are going to be vastly improved this coming season to the tune of winning seven games or more on the field.
“Although the Lions were 3-13-1 last season, anyone who watched them closely knows they were competitive. If the Lions play as hard as they did for coach Dan Campbell during his first season — and can stay healthy — they could get at least seven wins for the first time since 2017,” Woodyard wrote in the piece.
That kind of bounce back year would be significant in Detroit, and may show that the team has begun to turn the corner on their rebuild. It could also leave the Lions in surprise contention for a playoff spot or even the NFC North if the breaks fall right.
Either way, this is a pretty bold prediction for Woodyard to make. If it turns out that way, Lions fans will no doubt be happy knowing they can celebrate some tangible signs of success for their team.
Roster Could Have Lions Poised for Turnaround
In addition to the team’s friendly schedule, the Lions could be ready for a turnaround thanks to the fact that they have beefed up their roster. Detroit has improved greatly on defense up to this point of the offseason, with some of their heaviest lifting coming on that side of the ball. Not only did the Lions add names like Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal, but they drafted underrated players like Kerby Joseph, Malcolm Rodriguez and James Houston, any of whom could fight for a role. In free agency, Detroit added linebackers Chris Board and Jarrad Davis, cornerback Mike Hughes and safety DeShon Elliot.
Offensively, the Lions added players with upside such as DJ Chark, Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond. They also managed to secure dynamic wideout Jameson Williams in the draft and added intriguing tight end James Mitchell later on in the fifth-round as well. This, combined with health from Jared Goff, T.J. Hockenson, D’Andre Swift and the offensive line could have the Lions in great shape to chase down a big rebound season on the field.
Major Travel Advantage Could Assist Lions
If being near home sweet home can help a team to feel comfortable and as a result win, Detroit’s slated to get plenty of opportunities to experience that feeling this season. This year, the Lions aren’t going to be straying far from the midwest whatsoever in terms of their travel miles, and that could be the biggest possible advantage their schedule will offer this year.
Before the schedule came out, ESPN’s Adam Schefter showed a revealing look at how things are going to stack up for teams in the future in terms of travel. The Lions catch a lucky break in a big way with their travel for this coming season, with only 8,348 yards and only 8 total timezones changed. The information Schefter revealed was first shared by Bookies.com in a piece by Bill Speros.
The Lions traveled out west multiple times in 2021, and were one of the most battle-tested teams in terms of travel. That’s not an excuse for a 3-13-1 record, but only serves to point out that they were constantly on the move and their bodies had to deal with the reality of multiple timezone changes.
Detroit could have plenty of reason to feel good about their schedule this year, and might even be able to run up a decent win total as a result if things go right. That’s a reason to feel good ahead of a new year, indeed.
While some might be sleeping on the Lions, the early data shows it might not be a good idea to do that.
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