NFL Team Preview: Detroit Lions

The purpose of these previews is to provide a quick and dirty look at what the outlook is for each NFL team in 2019 according to my own philosophies and hot takes when it comes to pro football. That said, let’s take a quick report card look at where we came from, what’s expected, and the logic that drives my principles when evaluating NFL teams.

CategoryDetroit
Division:NFC North
SB Odds:80/1
Division Odds (Moneyline):+1100
2018 Rank Rushing Yds/Gm:23
2018 Rank Against the Run:10
2018 Rank Against the Pass:8
Returning Starters Offense:9
Returning Starters Defense:8

You may notice passing rankings are not included in my cute little NFL team report card. The reason for that is without at least one of, a top-10 ranked running game or top-10 defense, it generally does not matter how good your quarterback is. If you don’t believe me, read this genius’s irrefutable thorough analysis of elite quarterbacks, and how these two attributes correlates to their ability to win anything of note.

Now that you’re fully indoctrinated into my non-quarterback driven league cult, let’s do a quick run down of Detroit’s significant roster takeaways for this season.

Impact Additions – Acquisitions that are projected to start or have major rotational roles in 2019

5: DE Trey Flowers, CB Justin Coleman, TE Jesse James, WR Danny Amendola, TE T.J. Hockenson

Impact Losses – Departures that had started or had major rotational roles last season

4: OG T.J. Lang, DE Ezekiel Ansah, S Glover Quinn, RB LeGarrette Blount

Difference Makers – Players who are widely considered among the best at their position heading into 2019

3: CB Darius Slay, DT Damon Harrison, DE Trey Flowers

Potential Breakout Candidates – Second or third year players that are logical selections to make “the leap” in the upcoming season based on past performance

2: OG/C Frank Ragnow, RB Kerryon Johnson

How it could work

What started out as an abomination in 2018, the defense ended up being a borderline top-10 unit by season’s end. No doubt, the mid-season acquisition of Snacks Harrison helped immensely. And, it isn’t a reach to suggest substantial improvement from this group in 2019.

Free agent additions of All-Pro defensive end Trey Flowers, and cornerback Justin Coleman are huge upgrades at positions of great need. Mix in an emerging A’Shawn Robinson (“pictured” below) in a contract year, a sneaky swoop of Mike Daniels off the scrap heap, and alleged defensive guru, head coach Matt Patricia has a lot more to work with on paper in his second year.

Why it wouldn’t work

But, even more than the creator of that Face App thing needing to be executed, the Lions need high picks in recent years to live up to their price tags. Second year improvements from center Frank Ragnow, and the tantalizing Kerryon Johnson are a must for the offense to go to another level.

It also wouldn’t hurt if former first rounders, left tackle Taylor Decker, and middle linebacker Jarrad Davis proved to be more than adequate NFL starters. And, what absolutely positively cannot happen is T.J. Hockenson becoming the Lion’s next Eric Ebron.

See, that’s not just a swing and a miss like Teez Tabor in the second round. For any rational Lions fan to watch Ebron go from being an ostracized draft bust, to besting Travis Kelce in touchdowns the very next year is mother fucking disturbing.

It’s not only a referendum on Stafford, but the entire organization. It’s gives credence to Lion’s fans darkest fears that these guys simply don’t have clue.

That’s where Patricia brings some hope. New England has always gotten blood from a stone when it comes to player development/production, regardless of the price tag. If he brought 60% of that to Detroit, there’d probably be a statue of him next to Robocop.

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Final Prediction

But, right here? Right now? On paper, outside of three players currently rostered, most positions can be characterized as question mark, hole, NFL average, or potential entering 2019.

There’s path for Detroit to compete for the division, but so many things need to pan out at once. With the AFC West added to the schedule, and three teams in their own division thinking Super Bowl, I’ll go under the 6.5-7 wins on the year.

Coming up next, we’re heading to Green Bay where tight ends do not go to die.

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