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Detroit Lions Predictions

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Anything that could possibly go wrong for the Detroit Lions did in 2012. They would go just 4-12 last season after making the playoffs the previous year. There’s no question that this team was better than its record would show, but they just couldn’t find a way to win close games. In fact, nine of the Lions’ 12 losses came by eight points or less. Perhaps what hurt Detroit the most in those close games was finishing 30th in the league in turnover differential (-16).

The Lions featured one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL last season. They ranked 3rd in total offense (408.8 yards/game), but just 17th in scoring (23.2 points/game). The only bright spot on an otherwise forgettable season was wide receiver Calvin Johnson. He broke Jerry Rice’s all-time single-season receiving record with 1,964 yards. Matthew Stafford played pretty well, too, throwing for 4,967 yards with 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

The defense wasn’t as bad as the 27.3 points per game allowed would indicate. Detroit ranked a respectable 13th in the league in total defense (341.1 yards/game) a year ago. The problem was that they were terrible in the red zone at keeping opponents to field goals instead of touchdowns. Also, the offense continued to put the stop unit in bad spots with costly turnovers. That being said, there is still plenty of room for improvement on this side of the ball.

Last Season
NFC North
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
4th
4-12
6-10
3-5
3-5
10-5-1
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
3rd
13th
-16
23.2
27.3
2013 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Ezekiel Ansah (DE), Darius Slay (CB), Larry Warford (G), Devin Taylor (DE), Sam Martin (P)
Additions
Reggie Bush (RB), Leroy Harris (G), Jake Scott (G), Israel Idonije (DE), Jason Jones (DE/DT), C.J. Mosley (DT), Glover Quin (S), David Akers (K), Havard Rugland (K), Michael Spurlock (WR)
Losses
Kevin Smith (RB), Titus Young (WR), Kassim Osgood (WR), Will Heller (TE), Jeff Backus (OT), Gosder Cherilus (OT), Stephen Peterman (G), Cliff Avril (DE), Kyle Vanden Bosch (DE), Lawrence Jackson (DE), Corey Williams (DT), Sammie Lee Hill (DT), Andre Fluellen (DT), Justin Durant (OLB), Jacob Lacey (CB), Drayton Florence (CB), Jason Hanson (K)
Schedule
2013 Detroit Lions Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/8 Vikings
-2.5
0.55
9/15 @ Cardinals
-2.5
0.55
9/22 @ Redskins
+2.5
0.45
9/29 Bears
-1
0.51
10/6 @ Packers
+4.5
0.33
10/13 @ Browns
-1
0.51
10/20 Bengals
-1.5
0.53
10/27 Cowboys
-1
0.51
Week 9 BYE
11/10 @ Bears
+3
0.41
11/17 @ Steelers
+3.5
0.36
11/24 Bucs
-3.5
0.64
12/28 Packers
+1.5
0.47
12/8 @ Eagles
+1
0.49
12/16 Ravens
PK
0.50
12/22 Giants
-1.5
0.53
12/29 @ Vikings
+3
0.41
Estimated Wins: 7.75

The Lions have drawn the second-most difficult schedule in the entire league in 2013. They will be up against teams with a combined 138-118 (53.9%) record from last season. A big reason for that is the fact that the NFC North was one of the toughest divisions in the NFL last year as three teams finished with ten-plus wins. So you can’t look into this too much, though the North will be strong once again this year.

Detroit will be up against the AFC North and NFC East divisions. It will also play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals, who each finished last in their respective divisions. The Lions’ toughest tests come at home in 2013 as they will be up against four playoff teams from a year ago. They host the Vikings, Bengals, Packers and Ravens. They also welcome the Bears, Cowboys, Bucs and Giants to Soldier Field.

The road schedule is only slightly easier. Detroit will face three playoff teams from last season away from home in the Redskins, Packers and Vikings. The rest of the road schedule is much more manageable. The Lions will travel to face the Cardinals, Browns, Bears, Steelers and Eagles. They should have a good chance to win each and every one of those five contests.

Odds (Courtesy of Bovada)
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the NFC
to Win Super Bowl XLVIII
8
25 to 1
40 to 1
Predictions

While the Lions made the playoffs just two years ago, there’s no question that head coach Jim Schwartz is on the hot seat. There have been numerous discipline issues both on and off the field over the past few seasons. If Schwartz doesn’t get a team with this much talent to the playoffs in 2013, he could be out of the Motor City for good.

The Lions managed just 37 total touchdowns last season offensively. To compare, a team like the New Orleans Saints produced 58 touchdowns. While the Stafford-to-Johnson combination was insane, they failed to get much production elsewhere. Two of the biggest reasons were a lack of a running game and dropped passes.

Tight end Brandon Petttigrew was third among tight ends in drops (9), while Johnson was second behind Wes Welker in drops (14) for receivers. Detroit ranked just 23rd in the league in rushing (100.8 yards/game). It really struggled when inside an opponents 20-yard line to punch it in on the ground.

Reggie Bush has signed with the Lions this offseason to try and help the running game. He rushed for 1,086 yards and 986 yards the past two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, respectively. He’ll be used both on the ground and through the air, which is huge because Stafford hasn’t had a back that he could trust catching balls out of the backfield.

Another big problem for the offense is the lack of a No. 2 receiver. Nate Burleson is back, but he missed 10 games last year due to a broken leg, and his best days are behind him. Also, Ryan Broyles tore his ACL in December. He was already an injury-prone receive, and even if he returns healthy, that risk is still there.

While the skill positions appear to be in pretty good shape entering 2013, the offensive line could derail the offense. Left tackle Jeff Backus has retired, and right tackle Gosder Cherilus has signed with Indianapolis. That means Riley Reiff and Corey Hilliard will be forced into action this fall. Outside pass-rushers could have their way with these two all season. Detroit used a third-round pick on G Larry Warford, who was dominant in the Senior Bowl. Both G Rob Sims and C Dominic Raiola return.

Detroit has improved defensively each of the past five years, but it hasn’t been enough. Now, it loses a ton of players this offseason and must almost rebuild on this side of the ball. Starting defensive ends Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch are gone. It did sign former Seahawk Jason Jones, while using its No.5 pick in the first round to select BYU’s Ziggy Ansah. He has been getting comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul, but that’s a lot to live up to. The Lions also used a fourth-round pick on Devin Taylor.

With Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley dominating the interior of the defensive line, it was imperative that the Lions find some pass-rushers along the outside to take away some of their double-teams. While Suh and Fairley wreaked havoc in opposing backfields last year, they also hurt the team by combining for 15 penalties. If they can at least cut that number in half, they will live up to their full potential.

The Lions signed safety Glover Quin from Houston to play alongside Louis Delmas, who is an absolute stud but cannot seem to stay healthy. They spent a second-round pick on Mississippi State’s Darius Slay to compete for a starting job with Dwight Bentley, a 2011 second-day draft choice. Whoever wins the job will be opposite of Chris Houston, who was given a new 5-year deal this offseason.

The linebacker position is a bit concerning. Stephen Tulloch is pretty solid in the middle, though he and DeAndre Levy could stand to do a much better job in run support. Detroit will be counting on Ashlee Palmer, who barely played in 2012, to take over at strongside linebacker for the first two downs. That’s not great news for Lions fans heading into 2013.

I believe that the Lions will be one of the most improved teams in the league this year. They had everything go wrong last season, but with the talent on hand, I have no doubt they’ll come back hungry and make a run at the playoffs in 2013. Stafford has another weapon in Reggie Bush, who will only help make this offense more explosive than it was last year. The defense is in good hands up front and in the secondary, though the linebacker corps leaves little to be desired. I have pegged the Lions to finish in 2nd place in the NFC North with a 9-7 record overall.

Projections
NFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
2nd
4-2
9-7
Over 8
Lions Resources
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About the Author: Jack Jones has been one of the top experts on the site while competing against roughly 80 of the best handicappers in the world each year. He has made most of his money on the hardwood. In fact, he has finished in the Top-5 in college basketball each of the last three seasons (#5 2011-12, #5 2012-13, #3 2013-14). He was also the No. 1 NBA handicapper from 2012-13. As of early April, Jack has compiled an 802-631 basketball run that has seen his $1,000 game players profit $124,030. He was the No. 3 College Football handicapper in 2012-13. While he doesn't have any top finishes in the NFL, he has produced steady profits without killing his clients. Jack also was your No. 7 MLB handicapper in 2009 and backed it up with a No. 8 MLB finish in 2010. No matter the sport, the one thing you can count on with Jack Jones is that he won't leave any stone unturned. You'll know why he is on a game with his detailed analysis, and more times than not, you will come out well ahead against your book. Head on over to Jack's premium pick page to see what he has in store for tonight!
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