The NFC North hasn’t been kind to the Detroit Lions. The last time they finished anywhere above the bottom of the division was the 2017 season, in which they placed second.
Since then it’s been a tale of life being hard at the bottom, rather than the more glamorous concept of life being hard at the top, but the team will be hoping the 2021 season could be theirs. The Buccaneers got proceedings going, hosting the Dallas Cowboys in the first game of the regular season. What, however, lies ahead for the Lions? And who, if they’re going to have a successful season, can make it happen for them?
What can the fans expect from the Lions?
One thing is clear: the Lions begun with a tough schedule. They’ve lost their first two games, versus the 49ers and the Packers. Additionally, while citizens around the US will be digging into a succulent turkey at Thanksgiving, the Lions will be having guests that weekend in the form of the Chicago Bears — and the Chicago lads will be in no charitable mood when they hit Ford Field.
This difficult schedule and start could be one of the many reasons why sportsbooks aren’t giving the Lions very good odds. Anyone who ignores the oddsmakers and puts their faith in the team will be celebrating for some time if the Lions bag the Super Bowl trophy. The team have received betting line odds of +15,000.
But what else can we expect to see happen?
The Lions will struggle
It’s no secret that the Lions struggle in the NFL, and there’s likely to be more of the same toil for the team and agony for the fans. The defense requires some major work. Despite all the doom and gloom forecast for the team, the Lions aren’t lying down and accepting status as one of the weakest teams in the NFL. They’ve made some big adjustments to try to turn things back to the days of season 2017.
One big change has been the arrival of quarterback Jared Goff, from the Rams. Goff is tough and highly capable but has looked to be going off the boil in his last few seasons. Without the right supporting players around him, he’s going to find it hard to exert the impact he would like to this season. Some believe signing him for the club is just a stopgap and that 2021 will prove Goff isn’t the quarterback of the future. It’s a harsh judgment and prediction, but some people out there are making it.
Rushing and reception will lack a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver
The Lions may have rolled the dice slightly by signing Jared Goff, but someone needs to be able to collect the passes and run with the ball, too. Highly experienced wide receiver Kenny Golladay has upped sticks for the New York Giants, and wide receiver Marvin Jones has joined the Jacksonville Jaguars. That leaves Goff and his colleagues with Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond, Quintez Cephus and Amon Ra-St.Brown out wide. Defenses aren’t exactly quaking at this.
Who can give the team a fighting chance this season?
Much has been made of the weakness of the Lions, and how well they fare this season will depend on several players raising their game. If the players below can bring their A-game, the Lions might surprise the spectators in the stands and at home. Let’s start with the key man, Jared Goff.
In his quarterback career from 2016, Jared Goff has thrown 107 touchdown passes, but he was running out of steam last season, putting teammates on the receiving end of 20 and, the season before that, 22. This is much different to the 28 of 2017 and the 32 of 2018.
There’s a lot of pressure on Goff to turn things around, but his success will depend on the rest of the offense. Experts are expecting him to throw a lot of intercepted passes this season, as until 2020, these had been creeping up slightly. Work may be required.
This season could be wide receiver Quintez Cephus’s moment to show his team, the division and the wider NFL what he’s made of. Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams both came in as free agents, and Amon Ra-St.Brown joined the team on this year’s NFL draft, but they’re not up to the standard of Golloday and Jones. Someone has to stand and deliver; that someone is Quintez Cephus.
Jamaal Williams has joined the Lions after four years with division rivals the Green Bay Packers, where he had a commanding impact as a wide receiver. In 2020, he notched up 505 yards and two touchdowns on 119 carries. Add to these stats totaled yards of 236 and a touchdown on 31 receptions. The battle will be on with D’Andre Swift to be the team’s number one running back, but this is Williams’s moment if he seizes the opportunity.
The Lions have been struggling in more recent years, and a grueling schedule won’t make their campaign in the NFL any easier. All is not lost before it’s even started, however. The team has some promising players who, if they can get their game together, could influence the Lions’ fortunes for the better.