The DLP Staff Releases Their Season Predictions For The Detroit Lions For 2017.
I can not help but see the Lions as a team that will be unable to run the ball and will be unable to pressure the quarterback without blitzing. The secondary on the field is essentially the same one that couldn’t cover a slot receiver over 6′ tall, and couldn’t handle tight ends. Jarrad Davis will do a better job in the nickel package than Thurston Armbrister did, but until Tahir Whitehead is on the sideline there is an easy completion on the field.
Unless the Lions do something extreme to their defensive end group they’re going to be relying extensively on rookies. Rookie defenders do not typically come game ready outside the first few rounds. In the early weeks of the season, the Lions face a lot of veteran quarterbacks. Those quarterbacks are going to see mismatches in the slot on both sides of the field, and they will not see pressure. That is a very bad combination and the Lions will likely stumble out of the gate.
It is not until week six that I see a team with a roster that is not equal to or better than the Lions. Jim Caldwell’s staff has had trouble getting the team ready for the season in two consecutive years, I see a rocky start in the immediate future for the Lions because of their youth and history.
Detroit has a tough test at first against the Cardinals, but while the line will struggle with David Johnson, the linebackers will bail them out. The Giants and Falcons will be too much for Detroit, they have too many weapons on both teams.
Detroit is sweeping Minnesota hands down, even with Dalvin Cook the Vikings still have Sam Bradford at quarterback. The Panthers and Saints will be better than last season, but Detroit got better as well and will be too much for both teams.
Remember that issue with too many weapons? That happens against Pittsburgh and Green Bay and Detroit loses back to back. Detroit won’t beat Green Bay at all again this year, sadly.
The Browns should be an easy victory against a rookie quarterback, and the Bears are still the Bears, a clean sweep again in 2017. Finally, Baltimore is banged up badly, and they won’t be able to recover too well. The Bucs are a sneaky team in the NFC, they will shock people and again, they have weapons that will be too much. Cincinnati and Detroit will be fighting for a playoff spot in week 16, expect that to be a close win.
I think the Lions will go 10-6. If the Lions can have any type of consistent running game they should have a better offense than they did last year. Ameer Abdullah staying healthy would is probably the key to that happening. They still have one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL leading them on offense so they’ll be okay on that side of the ball.
On the defense, they will obviously need to find a pass rush. Ziggy Ansah needs to be more productive than he was last year. The Lions did get more athletic at linebacker which should help them cover backs and tight end, an area where they struggled mightily last season.
They have a tough start to the season, weeks two through four will be tough. The second half of the year isn’t awful. There are some games such as Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati that really could go either way. Those games could determine whether the Lions can return to the playoffs this season.
Rod Wood’s push for home games pays off for the team with victories against the Cardinals week 1 and the Packers week 17. I see the Lions splitting AFC North, losing to the Steelers and Bengals in close games. I see them playing well against an injury riddled Ravens team and passing by the Browns, whose secondary does not look to be improving with the release of veteran cornerback Joe Haden. I think the Giants air attack will be hard to overcome. They have a solid defense that could hold off Stafford and company if they get ahead early.
The Lions will also split with their NFC South opponents in my prediction. The improved offense of the Buccaneers may be too much for a Detroit on the road. The Falcons are the defending NFC Champions whose running game is likely to cause headaches for the defense when they are also asked to account for star receiver Julio Jones and Matt Ryan in the passing game.
I think the Panthers rebound this season, but don’t hit their stride until the latter half of their season when their younger players become more comfortable in the scheme. Thus, they lose to the Lions in Week 5 of the regular season. The Lions have matched up well against the Saints recently and I think they secure another victory this season.
Overall, I have the Lions going 10-6 on the season. Going 5-1 in the division with one loss in Lambeau and securing a wild card berth for the third time in four years.
I think that this will be a very similar season to 2015 for the Lions. Their first half of the season is much harder than the second half, so I think they will struggle to start the year and finish strong.
The hardest stretch of the schedule is the first four weeks, when the Lions play the Cardinals, at the Giants, the Falcons and at the Vikings. I think going 2-2 in this stretch would be a huge victory, but I think they will probably start the season 1-3, just as they did last year in 2016.
Next, they play the Panthers and at the Saints before going on the bye week. I think they have a good shot at beating Carolina because of Carolina’s weaknesses on the offensive line, in their receiving corps and in the secondary. Although the Lions have beaten the Saints in each of the last three years, I think the Saints will finally beat Detroit this year, giving the Lions a 2-4 record at the bye.
Coming off of the bye, Detroit plays the Steelers at home. I think that Detroit will win this game in an upset, as Ben Roethlisberger started to regress some towards the end of last season. I think the Lions will fall to the Packers the next week in Lambeau field, but Detroit will get a two winning streak started after that in Chicago, at home against Cleveland and home against the Vikings, bringing their record to 6-5.
I think both of the next two games, at Baltimore, and at Tampa Bay are very bad match ups for the Lions, and they will drop both of the games, although they should both be winnable. These are two teams that will be in the playoff hunt, and they will each get big wins against Detroit, bringing the Lions record to 6-7.
Detroit will then get on another winning streak, beating the Chicago Bears in Ford Field and winning a tightly contested game in Cincinnati. Going into week 17, their record will be 8-7 and there will potentially be a playoff spot on the line against the Packers. However, I don’t think Detroit’s roster is strong enough to overcome Aaron Rodgers, and the Lions will finish the season at 8-8, narrowly missing the playoffs.
I think that the Lions have a chance to progress this season from what they did last season. The defense is looking better, there are more weapons on offense, and I think Matthew Stafford is hungry this year. Especially after his finger injury caused the team to lose the last few games of last season.
The Lions are playing three highly efficient running backs in the first 3rd of the season. David Johnson, Devonta Freeman, and Dalvin Cook. It will be a test of the defense to stop the run. I think they will be able to do that against the Cardinals and the Vikings, but Matt Ryan has too many options for the Lions.
The Giants defense with Jason Pierre-Paul and Landon Collins will be a difficult opponent for most teams this year, and I think will cause the Lions some trouble.
Coming off the bye, the Lions play the Steelers and at the Packers. This will be a difficult schedule for the Lions, and I think they will fall to both teams. The Bucs, Bears, and Bengals are teams that the Lions should be able to compete well with. I think Stafford has enough drive in him to bring W’s those weeks.
While I think the Packers will sweep the team, I think that by week 17 the Lions will have the division on lock. With two more wins than last year, I see Matt Stafford’s Lions going into the playoffs at 11-5. From there, anything could be possible.
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