2018 Detroit Lions Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
This writer grew up in Michigan but roots against that state's professional sports franchises in a big way. That said, you almost have to feel sorry for the fans of the four major Detroit sports teams as it's a low point for that city right now.
The Tigers are in the midst of rebuild that likely will not see them contend for a playoff spot before 2021, and Miguel Cabrera is done for the season. The Pistons missed the playoffs for the second straight season and eighth in the past nine and dumped Coach/VP Stan Van Gundy. They couldn't even lure Michigan's John Beilein despite the promise of much more money (Dwane Casey a solid hire, though). The Red Wings were the model franchise in the NHL for about 25 years but have missed the playoffs in the past two and aren't likely to be much better in 2018-19.
Then there are the Lions, one of four active franchises to never play in a Super Bowl and the only NFC one. They did finish a solid 9-7 last year but missed out on the postseason. That was enough for ownership to fire Coach Jim Caldwell after four years. Essentially, he was fired in Week 16 when the Lions were still in the playoff chase but absolutely played dead in an upset loss in Cincinnati.
"We didn't beat the real good teams," GM Bob Quinn said after the firing. "Our record was above average. We're 9-7 the last two years, but our record against the better teams in the league has not been that good."
Most agreed that Quinn did well to lure Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia for the top job, but even that didn't go right in typical Lions fashion. No one doubts Patricia's football smarts - the guy literally once was a rocket scientist - but it was revealed by the Detroit News that Patricia was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault while on spring break in 1996. Patricia was later cleared of all charges, but how did the Lions get so blindsided by this? A short-staffed newspaper dug this up but an NFL franchise couldn't? (To be fair, the Patriots didn't know, either.) Few will remember this if Patricia is a success, but it's not a good look to start his head coaching career. Neither the Lions nor Patricia were disciplined by the NFL for this black eye.
Detroit was 5-3 on the road last season, 4-3-1 against the spread and 4-4 "over/under." The Lions travel to two playoff teams from 2017: Minnesota and Buffalo. The home schedule looks significantly tougher. I project a 3-5 road record. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 16 at 49ers (-3.5): Short week right off the bat for the Lions as they host the Jets in the first game of the Week 1 Monday night doubleheader. Not ideal to travel to the West Coast on a short week, either. Patricia should know Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo as well as anyone from practicing against him in New England. These teams last met in 2015 with the Lions winning 32-17 in Detroit. Key trend: Lions 2-6-2 ATS in past 10 at 49ers.
Sept. 30 at Cowboys (-4): Detroit, off a Sunday night home game vs. New England, has lost its past two in Dallas, a blowout late in the 2016 season and the Wild-Card Game following the 2014 season when the Lions were completely hosed by the officials. Key trend: Lions 4-4 ATS in Dallas (including playoffs).
Oct. 21 at Dolphins (-1): Detroit out of its bye week. This is one matchup where the Lions would appear to have a clear advantage in overall talent, especially at quarterback. The Lions have won the past two meetings by single digits, last in 2014. Key trend: Lions 6-4 ATS in past 10 out of bye week at any location.
Nov. 4 at Vikings (-7): Might surprise you to know Detroit has won its past two in Minneapolis and was the only team in the NFL last season to beat Minnesota at US Bank Stadium, a 14-7 victory in Week 4. The Loins forced three turnovers, had six sacks and shut out the Vikings in the second half when they totaled 120 yards. Key trend: Lions 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 as road dog in series.
Nov. 11 at Bears (-1): The Lions have won nine of their last 10 games against Chicago, with the loss coming at Soldier Field early in the 2016 season. It was a 27-24 victory in Week 11 last year. Matt Prater hit a 52-yard field goal with 1:35 left. Matthew Stafford had 299 yards passing and two touchdowns. Key trend: Lions 5-4-1 ATS in past 10 as road dog in series.
Dec. 9 at Cardinals (-1): The Lions haven't won in Arizona since 1993 but beat the visiting Cardinals 35-23 in Week 1 of last season. Stafford threw four touchdown passes, two to then-rookie Kenny Golladay in the fourth quarter when Detroit scored 20 points. The Lions also forced four turnovers. Key trend: Loins 1-8-1 ATS in past 10 at NFC West foes.
Dec. 16 at Bills (pick'em): Quite a weather change for Detroit from the desert one Sunday to the likely frozen tundra the next. The Lions haven't been a good cold-weather team in many years. They could be facing rookie QB Josh Allen by this point. Buffalo has won the past two in the series. Key trend: Doubt this will be a pick'em, but Lions are 2-3 ATS in their past five in them (any location).
Dec. 30 at Packers (TBA): Per usual, no Week 17 lines. The NFL schedule-makers did the Lions no favors with another outdoor cold-weather game. If I'm in the Detroit front office, I was praying for the Buffalo and Green Bay games to be in the first half of the season. It's the fourth time in the past five years these teams close against one another, and the Lions also have won two of their past three in Lambeau. They won there 30-17 on a Monday in Week 9 last year when Aaron Rodgers was hurt. Key trend: Lions 4-6 ATS in past 10 at Packers.
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