2020 Detroit Lions Predictions and Season Win Total Picks
Sloppy, sweaty clown Matt Patricia is back for what could be his final season as head coach of the Detroit Lions. The former New England Patriots flunky has led Detroit to just nine wins over the past two seasons, including a 3-12-1 debacle last year.
By comparison, Jim Caldwell, the calm, competent man that Patricia replaced, led the Lions to back-to-back 9-win seasons in 2016 and 2017 before getting canned.
Patricia is another piece of poisoned fruit from the Bill Belichick coaching tree. In his infinite wisdom, Patricia has traded, cut or alienated most of the leaders and key players from Caldwell’s successful Lions teams (they went 36-28 in his four seasons, with two playoff appearances). And last year the tension in the locker room climaxed when starting safety and defensive captain Quandre Diggs was traded in late October.
Patricia has retooled his roster with former Patriots cast-offs in a pathetic, transparent attempt to recreate a shred of the success he had riding Bill Belichick’s coat tails. Surprisingly, though, Detroit has managed to cobble together a decent roster. Whether or not Patricia can mold that into a competitor remains to be seen.
The Lions were one of the biggest statistical underachievers in the league last year, winning three fewer games than their Pythagorean expectations. One major factor was their six dismal losses in one-score games.
Another major factor in Detroit’s 2019 struggles was the back injury that ended Matt Stafford’s season. Stafford had been on pace for over 5,000 yards and nearly 40 touchdowns before he went down in their eighth game. Detroit went 0-8 without their Pro Bowl quarterback under center.
For Stafford, who is now 32 years old and entering his 12th season, this might be the end of his prime and the beginning of a career downslide. This also may be one of his most balanced offenses. Detroit tallied more than 400 rushing attempts each of the past two seasons, something they hadn’t done in a decade. With a full stable of backs at their disposal – including newly acquired Adrian Peterson – I can see the Lions trying to relieve the pressure on Stafford with a legitimate running game.
When Stafford does air it out, he has three quality receivers in Danny Amendola, Marvin Jones and superstar-in-the-making Kenny Golladay.
If Stafford is healthy, the Lions offense will be fine. Potent, even. Yet if this team is going to throw itself into the playoff mix, they need to show massive improvement on the defensive side. Patricia was a former defensive coordinator. So it’s pretty embarrassing that Detroit finished No. 31 in total defense last year.
Danny Shelton, Trey Flowers, Jamie Collins and Duron Harmon are all former Patriots starters. Patricia will be leaning on them to get the stop unit turned around. They also need an immediate impact from free agent corner Desmond Trufant, who flamed out in Atlanta, and rookie Jeff Okudah, both of whom will be tasked with shoring up the NFL’s worst pass defense.
The Lions locker room absolutely quit on Patricia last season, indicated by their 2-8 mark against the spread in their final 10 games. What’s going to happen if they get off to a slow start again this year? Patricia is in a win-or-else situation this year. The players know that. So will they fight for their coach or mail it in, watch Patricia get canned, and then undergo yet another franchise rebuild?
A fast start to the season is critical for this team’s confidence. But it won’t be easy. They open the campaign with back-to-back divisional games, hosting Chicago and then going to Green Bay. They have another tricky road game at Arizona (where they tied last year) before hosting a top-tier New Orleans squad. That leads into an early bye in Week 5.
If Detroit is still breathing after that start, then things soften a bit. The Lions crossover with the AFC South, which is full of sketchy teams. Detroit also has winnable games against Washington and Carolina. If they can get one of those crossover games, then I think that they can go .500 in their division and against the AFC South. That’s six wins right there, and the Lions appear capable of at least one other upset along the way.
I think there is some talent on this roster. And a full season of Stafford would make this team more dangerous than people expect.
Take Detroit Lions ‘Over’ 7.0 Wins.
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