2017 Detroit Lions Home Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
It's going to be a long sports season in Detroit. The Tigers are rebuilding and will only avoid last place in the AL Central Division because of the "more" rebuilding Chicago White Sox. The Detroit Red Wings' amazing 25-year playoff streak ended last season as they finished with 79 points, and things aren't likely to be much better in 2017-18. The Pistons are meh. They missed the playoffs last year and might sneak in as a No. 7 or 8 seed this season in the weak East only to get bounced quickly.
Then there are the Detroit Lions, a team that seems annually mismanaged. Sure, they made the playoffs last year for the third time in six seasons but haven't gotten past the wild-card game since 1991. I see no reason why the 2017 team would even reach a wild-card game.
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Detroit has a quarterback at least 25 other teams would want in Matthew Stafford, but the team rarely gets him any support in the running game. The Lions ranked 30th on the ground in 2016 and to my eye didn't do anything to fix that. It's the same group of running backs, with injury-prone Ameer Abdullah on top of the depth chart. If any team needed to draft a tailback, it was Detroit. But not a one (third-round WR Kenny Golladay looks like an early steal, though).
The Lions did attempt to fix the offensive line by signing right tackle Rick Wagner and right guard T.J. Lang in free agency. However, left tackle Taylor Decker had shoulder surgery on June and probably isn't back until December. Decker, the 16th pick of last year's draft out of Ohio State, played every offensive snap as a rookie.
On defense, the Lions took Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis with their first-round pick, and he has looked impressive and will start from Day 1 in the middle. Second-round cornerback Teez Tabor, also a former Gator, is having a bit more of a learning curve. That defense already has suffered one big hit with a season-ending injury to end Kerry Hyder. He had a breakout season for the Lions in 2016 after forcing his way onto the roster with a strong preseason. He finished with 36 tackles and a team-high eight sacks. In addition, linebacker/defensive end Brandon Copeland also is done. Copeland had been a key special teams player for Detroit as well as a guy who could back up at those two defensive positions. He was competing for the starting strong side linebacker job this summer.
Detroit was 6-2 at Ford Field last season, 5-3 against the spread and 3-5 "over/under." The Lions host three playoff teams in 2017: Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Green Bay. The home slate is way tougher than on the road. Not a single home back-to-back, though. Overall, Detroit has the 11 th-easiest schedule in the NFL with an opponents' combined 2016 winning percentage of .469. BetOnline lists the Lions' win total at 7.5, with the under a -120 favorite. I projected a 2-6 road record and will go 5-3 at home so under that total. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 10 vs. Cardinals ( -3, 50): Detroit opens at home for the first time since 2014 and has won three straight season openers at Ford Field. However, the Cards romped in Detroit 42-17 in the last meeting in 2015 - the Lions actually led 7-0. Stafford was pulled from the game in the third quarter. Key NFL betting trend: Lions 5-5 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC West.
Sept. 24 vs. Falcons (+1.5): The Falcons are not a team you want to have a short week of preparation against, but that's the case for Detroit as it's at the Giants on Monday in Week 2. I believe Stafford could have a season like Matt Ryan did in 2016 if the Lions just got him some help. Stafford has more pure talent. Detroit won the last meeting 22-21 on the road in 2014. Key betting trend: Lions 6-4 ATS in past 10 as home dog of 2.5 points or fewer.
Oct. 8 vs. Panthers (-2): The Lions visit Minnesota in Week 4 ahead of this one. It's a second straight home game vs. an NFL MVP. Detroit has lost five of seven all-time in this series, including in the most recent meeting in 2014 at Charlotte. Key betting trend: Lions 4-6 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC South.
Oct. 29 vs. Steelers (+1.5): Sunday night, and Detroit comes off its bye week. So Ryan, then Newton and now Ben Roethlisberger for that Lions defense to deal with at home. Bit of a homecoming for Le'Veon Bell (Michigan State) and Antonio Brown (Central Michigan). Key betting trend: Lions are 5-0 SU & ATS in past five after a bye (any location).
Nov. 12 vs. Browns (-8.5): Short week for the Lions after visiting Green Bay on Monday night and thus a potential letdown game. Two of four teams to never make the Super Bowl. The Lions have defeated the Browns 15 times in 19 tries in the regular season. Key betting trend: Lions 3-7 ATS in past 10 as home favorite of at least 7.5 points.
Nov. 23 vs. Vikings (-2.5): Thanksgiving. The Lions are in Chicago the previous Sunday. Detroit has won four in a row on Turkey Day, including 16-13 over these Vikings last year. Darius Slay returned an interception 13 yards with 30 seconds left to set up Matt Prater's 40-yard field goal as time expired. Stafford threw for 232 yards and a touchdown. Key betting trend: Lions 5-4-1 ATS in past 10 as home favorite of at least 2.5 points in series.
Dec. 16 vs. Bears (-6): Saturday game, with the Detroit visiting Tampa the previous Sunday. Because this is an NFL Network televised game, fans could see the Lions' really cool new Color Rush uniforms. Detroit beat the visiting Bears 20-17 in Week 14 last year - that was the game Stafford injured his finger, but it didn't stop him from running for a go-ahead, 7-yard touchdown with 3:17 left -- and would be his team's final victory of the season. Key betting trend: Lions 4-4 ATS all-time as at least a 6-point favorite in series.
Dec. 31 vs. Packers (TBA): Per usual, no Week 17 lines. Lions off a trip to Cincinnati on Christmas Eve. It's the second straight year that Detroit hosts the Packers in Week 17. The Lions beat the Packers in the final game of the 1993 season to win their last division title but lost the NFC North winner-take-all game in 2016, 31-24 to be relegated to the wild-card game. Key betting trend: Lions 3-7 ATS in past 10 at home in series.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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