The Detroit Lions had a rough 2019 season for reasons that were both within and outside their control, but they are ready to turn the page and get going on 2020.
When 2020 comes, the Lions could be expected to do some major damage on the field and make one of the more impressive worst to first type turnaround. Recently, Bill Barnwell of ESPN took a look at picking out some teams he thinks will improve in 2020, and the Lions were on the list.
Detroit’s season will benefit from the fact that they have an easier schedule, a healthy quarterback and a chance at winning some of the absurd amount of close games they lost in 2019.
“The FPI also thinks Detroit will be aided by a softer schedule. It is projected to have the fifth-easiest schedule in the league this season; while it has to play the NFC South, it will get four games against the AFC South and six against an NFC North division that looks better on paper than it does to the algorithm. Every schedule projection is subject to change given the nature of this upcoming season, but the Lions should have an easier road ahead.
They will be better in the fourth quarter in 2020. They’ll get a healthier Stafford. They’ll most likely have a healthier offense altogether, given that they ranked 29th in offensive adjusted games lost last season. I’m concerned about the propensity for players to leave Detroit and play better after getting away from Patricia, and that might impact the Lions’ ceiling, but I do think they’ll be a better football team this season. Their chances of competing for the NFC North title are better than you think, in part because of who and what we’ll talk about tomorrow.”
The reasoning has plenty to do with how Barnwell expects the Packers to take a step back this season and perhaps struggle a bit. That, combined with some uncertainty in Chicago and Minnesota, could make the Lions quietly a team on the rise in 2020.
Folks will undoubtably laugh, but the Lions could be a good bet to improve dramatically in 2020 as the metrics are showing.
Lions Predicted for ‘Huge Leap’ During 2020 Season
Yet another person has said the Lions could be expected to have a huge leap season. According to Bleacher Report and writer Maurice Moton, the team could be expected to be one of a handful in the NFL who take a big next step this coming season on the field and do some bigger winning.
Why is that? Here’s a look at what Moton wrote:
“Matt Patricia’s two-year, 9-22-1 head coaching record doesn’t inspire optimism.
But on a positive note, quarterback Matthew Stafford will play a second year in coordinator Darrell Bevell’s system, which flourished with the 32-year-old on the field.
Before back and hip injuries derailed Stafford’s season, he was second in touchdown passes (19) and fourth in passing yards (2,499) through Week 9.
With his experience and the addition of rookie dual-threat running back D’Andre Swift, Detroit’s offense poses a bigger threat.
The Lions traded cornerback Darius Slay but replaced him with No. 3 pick Jeff Okudah. He has exceptional footwork, change of direction and ability to lock up wide receivers in one-on-one man coverage.
Patricia will coach a few more familiar faces from his days in New England in defensive tackle Danny Shelton, linebacker Jamie Collins and safety Duron Harmon.
Last season, Detroit ranked 26th in scoring defense and allowed the second-most yards. Shelton can plug some holes on the interior of the defensive line, while Collins will strengthen the pass rush and cover the middle of the field. In 2019, he recorded a career-high seven sacks to go with seven pass breakups and three interceptions. Harmon has the range to help Okudah deep downfield if needed.
The Lions finished 2019 on a nine-game losing streak and didn’t win a contest without Stafford. His return alone should help Detroit double its victories from 2019.”
Stafford, as well as an improved defense, should figure to be huge factors for the Lions this season. The team will get their quarterback healthy and also quietly made improvements to the defense which could lead in quite a turnaround for the team. If the team is to do some big winning, it will have to be their defense which leads the way in a big way.
To that end, Moton is right. Having a healthy quarterback leading a solid offense as well as a improved defense could be a winning formula for the team.
Analyst Projecting Great Lions 2020 Record
This isn’t the only good projection for Detroit. Recently, the question was posed regarding what team analysts are taking a leap of faith on for the 2020 season. According to Shaun O’Hara, the Lions are that team, and he thinks they could make more than just a little bit of noise this coming season on the field. In fact, O’Hara is putting all his faith in Detroit.
— GMFB (@gmfb) July 24, 2020
“When you look back at what happened last year, before Matthew Stafford got hurt, he was lighting it up. When you look at Detroit and what they did this offseason, the infusion of talent on offense and defense. The Lions to me, I know they didn’t win a single game in the division. Their offense is very underrated. I think this offensive line is much improved. I think altogether the Lions, in that division, they’re going to be a contender. I’m not just saying they’re going to go 8-8.”
Most expect the Lions to simply go 8-8 or thereabouts most seasons at best, so O’Hara’s comment is a significant leap of faith in the team indeed. With modest improvements on defense, Detroit’s offense could be set to have a major season on the field which could lead in them winning big and having a better record than many predict.
The momentum is building as it relates to the Lions being a team to watch during the 2020 season, and many see an easy turnaround in the cards.
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