2021 Detroit Lions Betting Preview
The Lions finished last season just 5-11, and it marked the end of the road for head coach Matt Patricia and the end of an era for quarterback Matthew Stafford who is now the starting QB for the Rams. Jared Goff comes to Detroit in return for Stafford in that trade, and Dan Campbell replaces Patricia Detroit spent its offseason doing its best to retool at the foundational positions. They brought in some fresh front seven players on defense and drafted Penei Sewell, an offensive tackle, in the first round.
The Lions embark on a rebuild under a new regime, but this team has some intriguing pieces in place. The Lions bring back offensive tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow, two of the best offensive linemen at their respective positions, as well as second-year first-round cornerback Jeff Okudah who’s expected to progress significantly this season. Detroit does have some talent to build around moving forward.
2020 Detroit Lions Team Stats
Points For: 377 (23.6 per game), 20th of 32
Points Against: 519 (32.4 per game), 32nd of 32
Passing Yards Per Game: 256.5
Rushing Yards Per Game: 93.7
Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 284.9
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 134.9
Key Offseason Transactions
It started with a whisper – the Lions may be willing to part ways with Matthew Stafford. By January 31, before the playoffs were over, Detroit had turned the page on a 12-year run with the most talented quarterback in franchise history. As part of the trade, the Lions acquired two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and former #1 overall pick Jared Goff.
Along with Stafford, the Lions said goodbye to their top two wide receivers from last season in Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Detroit signed veterans Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman and drafted Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round to replace them. However, the incumbent running back D’Andre Swift and tight end T.J. Hockenson will handle a bulk of the targets in the passing game.
The Lions also reshuffled on defense as they let veteran cornerbacks Desmond Trufant, Justin Coleman, and Daryl Roberts walk. Quinton Dunbar, a free agent signing, and Jeff Okudah, last year’s first-round pick, will be the starting corners. My favorite free agency acquisition for the Lions this year was defensive lineman Michael Brockers, a player who will provide immediate toughness upfront.
Detroit’s draft class was built with just that in mind – toughness upfront – as their first three picks were offensive lineman Penei Sewell and defensive linemen Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill. New Lions’ head coach Dan Campbell said the team would “bite a kneecap off” in his introductory presser, so that offseason approach makes perfect sense as Detroit looks to build an identity of doggedness.
2020 Detroit Lions Betting Stats
ATS +/-: -5.5
Total +/-: +5.3
2021 Detroit Lions Betting Preview
The Lions were often pushovers last season, particularly defensively, as that unit wouldn’t have been able to stop Pop Warner football players, much less NFL pros. That porous defense led to Detroit hitting the over in their games at a higher rate (62.5%) than all but four teams. I expect that narrative to change significantly this year as the Lions get tougher on both sides of the ball.
Detroit was surprisingly decent-ish against the spread last year as seven teams had a worse record ATS than them. Perhaps that has more to do with Vegas perceiving them like such a bad football club, which they were than on-field success, but the Lions were able to overachieve in some ways last year. They should have a solid record against the spread again this year as I expect the Lions to be a physical club and a tough out for most teams.
While I expect the Lions to put up more of a fight on defense this year, their offense will surely be worse without Stafford, Golladay, and Jones. It doesn’t help that they play in the same division as three playoff hopefuls in the Packers, Vikings, and Bears; the Lions face the sixth-toughest schedule in the NFL this year (tied with the Bengals) in terms of cumulative opponent win percentage.
2021 Detroit Lions Super Bowl Odds
The Lions currently have +25000 odds to win the Super Bowl this season. Only the Texans have worse odds at +30000. Detroit won four NFL Championships from 1935 to 1957 before the Super Bowl era, but they have not made it to the Super Bowl since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. They are the oldest NFL team to never appear in a Super Bowl and the only franchise operational for the entire Super Bowl era never to make it. Additionally, the Lions are the only NFC team to never appear in the Super Bowl. That’s a lot of poor history working against Detroit this season, and it would be shocking if they made it to the Super Bowl this year, to say the least.
2021 Detroit Lions Playoff Odds
Currently listed at +600 to make the playoffs, the Lions have the second-longest playoff odds in the NFL, ahead of only the Houston Texans. Detroit has only won one playoff game since 1992, although they do have eight playoff appearances since 1992 and three since 2010. However, the Lions’ new head coach Dan Campbell has never coached a team to the playoffs and led the Dolphins to just a 5-7 record in 12 games as head coach in 2015 – that’s his only head coaching experience. It isn’t easy to imagine this as a playoff club in 2021, but the Lions aren’t as far away as some may have you believe.
2021 Detroit Lions Win Total Odds
The Lions have the second-lowest projected win total at 4.5 this season, ahead of just the Texans at 4 wins. With Jared Goff at the helm, the Rams won an average of 9.4 games per season from 2016 to 2020. However, that Los Angeles team had far more talent on both sides of the ball than this Detroit group, and Goff also had the luxury of working with one of the best offensive minds in the NFL in Sean McVay. It’s tough to project that same level of success for Goff and the Lions, particularly their difficult schedule. However, 5 wins over a 17-game slate seem pretty obtainable, and I lean towards the over on that particular bet.
2021 Detroit Lions Players Futures Odds
There isn’t really an MVP candidate on the Lions’ roster for this season. Jared Goff is probably the best candidate, but he’s a long shot at , and even if he puts in a career year in his new home, it’s unlikely this team is good enough to have an MVP-caliber player. D’Andre Swift is listed at , just ahead of Alvin Kamara and Jonathan Taylor, probably overkill for the second-year running back.
An offensive lineman has never won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, but it’s possible that Penei Sewell comes in and is an All-Pro-caliber player right away. He’s that talented, and the six teams who passed on him for other players could potentially regret that decision. Sewell is listed at to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Amon-Ra St. Brown follows close behind at +8000, and he could be the team’s top wideout sooner rather than later, so perhaps he’s a value.
The Defensive Rookie of the Year winner is likely not on the Lions’ roster with so many talented defenders in this draft class. Still, it’s worth noting that Detroit did select two talented defensive linemen in the draft. Levi Onwuzurkie has +3500 odds to win DROY, and Alim McNeill has +5000 odds. A true defensive tackle hasn’t won the DROY award since Aaron Donald in 2014 and Sheldon Richardson the year before him, but perhaps one of these two bucks that trend this season.