2013 Detroit Lions Predictions and NFL Futures Odds
by Alan Matthews - 8/13/2013
It’s very fitting that the the New York Jets and Detroit Lions opened their preseason against one another on Friday night, as I believe the two hottest coaching seats in the NFL belong to the Jets' Rex Ryan and Lions' Jim Schwartz. Ryan certainly will get all the publicity simply because he's in New York and isn't exactly bashful. But I think Ryan is set up to fail -- just look at the Jets' talent level on offense, for example. If that team wins eight games, I'll dress up as a Jets cheerleader for Halloween.
On the other hand, the Lions are stacked with talent. They have the best quarterback-receiver tandem in the NFL in Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Now you add electric Reggie Bush to the mix. The interior of the defensive line should be one of the best in the NFL led by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, back-to-back Lombardi Award winners in college. There is no reason this team should have gone 4-12 a year ago. Stafford and Johnson played the entire way -- I blame the coaching.
Would Nick Saban perhaps be interested in the Lions job if he gets bored winning another title at Alabama? Can you think of a better situation to walk into than Detroit with a franchise QB and receiver in place? I honestly can't. By comparison, Saban was linked to the Browns a bit this offseason, and Cleveland isn't in the same ballpark as Detroit when it comes to talent. Saban was a former DC with the Browns and is a Midwest guy, but Detroit's not exactly too far away. Just saying.
Stafford set an NFL record with 727 attempts last season, so maybe you can excuse those 17 interceptions because he was throwing so much. If Stafford can get that completion percentage to 62.5, he might become the NFL's best QB. There's zero doubt that Johnson is the league's best receiver after setting the NFL record with 1,964 yards on 122 catches a year ago. That five-touchdown total was a bit baffling. The Lions weren't a great running team last year but should run a bit more with an inside/outside duo of Mikel Leshoure and Bush. The line is a bit of a question mark after losing tackles Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus, and I'm not sure there's a solid No. 2 receiver behind Megatron. I think Ryan Broyles can be that guy if he's 100 percent off his torn ACL suffered late last season.
The defensive front lost its best pass-rusher in Cliff Avril, but the Lions hope to replace him with No. 5 overall pick Ziggy Ansah. He's one of those workout demons but started only nine games at BYU and has been playing football for just a few years. The secondary was an issue again last year but should be better if Louis Delmas can stay on the field and with the addition of Texans free-agent safety Glover Quin. It's not going to be a dominant group, but if the Lions can cut last year's average points allowed of 27.3 a good four points, then they should win more than they lose with a stellar offense.
2013 Detroit Lions Schedule Analysis
Detroit has the second-toughest strength of schedule by 2012 opponents' winning percentage at .539. Only Carolina's is harder. The Lions were pretty much toast last year after they started 1-3, but I believe they can do exactly the opposite this year. They are favored in Week 1 at home against Minnesota, just the second time in franchise history the Lions have hosted the Vikings in their season opener, then visit Arizona and Washington before hosting the Bears. I think that 3-1 start is important because a likely loss awaits in Week 5 in Green Bay. No reason the Lions can't win at Cleveland in Week 6 before the Bengals and Cowboys visit Ford Field ahead of the bye week. The bad news out of the bye is games at Chicago and Pittsburgh, but then four of the final six are at home. Detroit probably won't want to need a victory in Week 17 at Minnesota. It's not that the Vikings will be all that great, but it's the final game at the Metrodome. Intangibles would seem to hugely favor Minnesota there.
2013 Detroit Lions Futures Odds
Odds courtesy of BetOnline and Sportsbook.ag: Detroit's NFL season wins total is set at 7.5, with the “over” a -140 favorite. The Lions are +600 to win the NFC North, +2650 to win the NFC and +6500 to win the Super Bowl, a game they've never played in. Stafford is +2500 to win NFL MVP and +650 to throw for the most yards. He has a yardage total set at 4,900.5. He also is +6.5 touchdown passes against Aaron Rodgers (both -115). Johnson is +2000 to win MVP and the +300 favorite to lead the league in receiving yards again. He has a yardage total of 1,700.5. Johnson is -1.5 touchdowns against Cincinnati's A.J. Green (both -115) and -5 TDs against Houston's Andre Johnson (Andre Johnson the -130 favorite there).
2013 Detroit Lions Predictions
Schwartz has made some curious decisions in his tenure -- remember the challenged touchdown in the Thanksgiving game against Houston? That play would have been overturned had Schwartz not mistakenly thrown the challenge flag. Sometimes guys can be great coordinators (Norv Turner for example) but aren't meant to be head coaches. Maybe that's Schwartz. Still, there's too much talent here not to finish at least .500. So take the over wins. I'd go under on Stafford's yards, but take that prop against Rodgers. I'd definitely go under Johnson's yards since last year was the only time he has exceeded it. I think he can still lead the league with 1,550 or so. Go Green and Andre Johnson on those props.
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