Detroit Lions Podcast 2016 Season Predictions

To suggest that the consensus expert view of the Lions 2016 season looks bleak is a massive understatement. The national media has ragged on Detroit, consistently making predictions of them ranking in the mid-twenties of a 32 team league. The common thought around this decision? What it basically boils down to is that without Megatron the Lions will be a shell of a team. This theory has been thoroughly beaten down in numerous articles on this site and now, two preseason games watching the Marvin Jones/Matthew Stafford connection, provides the perfect opportunity to come out of nowhere as they did in the second half of last year and prove the doubters wrong. The most significant factor that can help them do this is their strength of schedule. Detroit will play the AFC south and NFC east as their rival divisions this year, arguably the two worst in the league last season, as well as New Orleans and Los Angeles as their random division games. While several players will need to step up in order to capitalize on this weak draw, the Lions are ideally set to shock the league this season. With that lets get into the 2016 Lions season predictions:

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Week 1 @ IND: WIN

This may seem controversial to some, but the Colts are a highly overrated team. Many have chalked up their disappointing 8-8 season to a few key injuries and some bad Luck (pardon the pun) suggesting that they will be automatically back in the playoffs with Luck back to his old self. The fact remains though that there are some fundamental flaws with this team. Even if Andrew Luck comes back to perfect form and he gets it going with his various weapons, are those new young pieces on the offensive line really going to improve his protection in the very first game of the season? Not to mention Frank Gore in the run game who wasn’t himself last year and is now 33 years old, or that potential dumpster fire of a defense with arguably no starter above the league average outside of Vontae Davis. The Lions have a great match-up here on both sides of the ball and should capitalize. Record: 1-0

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Week 2 vs TEN: WIN

Heading back to Detroit for the home opener, the Lions have another lovely setup against the rebuilding Titans. I personally really like Tennessee with the pieces they currently have and what they are trying to do, but they are still extremely young and inexperienced with plenty of holes left to fill. The main point of concern will be finding someone, or a combination of people, to cover Delanie Walker who is a bit of a match up nightmare. Shutting down a pretty hard nosed run game should also be a priority although a lot of stacked boxes should help with that. At the end of the day with our receiving corps matching up against Jason McCourty, Perrish Cox, and Brice McCain there isn’t a lot to be concerned about. Record 2-0

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Week 3 @ GB: LOSS

The Packers have a rather difficult start to the season, going to Jacksonville against the new look scrappy Jags before hosting the Vikings and then Detroit. They have a significant chance of being 1-1 through those games with an outside shot, yet real possibility, of being 0-2 with a rusty Jordy Nelson and a few weaker position groups. With this in mind however, a good team desperate for a win at home should be tough to beat. As much as I want to write the Lions win in Lambeau, they have to lose sometimes and this seems like a natural place for that to occur. The one thing that would potentially change predictions is if Green Bay ends up being without Nelson, who is currently recovering from another knee injury. It is clear from last season that this is not the same offense without him, and in turn, even with a slow start and a slightly improved defense, Green Bay becomes a much more beatable team without him in the lineup. Regardless, this projection has to assume he will be available. Record: 2-1

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Week 4 @ CHI: WIN

Oh the Bears. Every year they go out and make free agency splashes as if they’re actually still contenders, their fans still clinging to their predictions that 2010’s success is still going to come back around over half a decade later. For some reason they can’t see when its time to blow the whole damn thing up. Big arrivals have led to yet another round of early offseason buzz which has quickly died off after they got goose egged by Denver at home in the first game of 2016. Of course its only preseason but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to identify that a couple linebackers weren’t going to fix this team. The o-line continues to be extremely shaky, especially with their center Grasu gone for the season, Kevin White looks like a third round rookie instead of a 2nd year top 10 pick, and there is still a clear unrest in the lineup as they continue the conversion from the traditional Bears base 4-3 defense into a new look 3-4. Despite all these issues though, there’s still enough talent there that a good quarterback could revive this team into a playoff push. Unfortunately for the Bears their quarterback is Jay Cutler, who will instantly get grumpy and mope his way to another sub .500 finish. Record: 3-1

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Week 5 vs PHI: WIN

The Eagles are definitely a team in transition at this point. There’s some solid vets like Jason Peters and Fletcher Cox, some good up and coming young players like Zach Ertz and Mychal Kendricks, and some place holders, namely Sam Bradford. While they could have attempted to build for short term contention, they are currently looking at the future, drafting Carson Wentz second overall in this years draft. With Lane Johnson the Eagles’ young right tackle facing a ten game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, I see no way they put the future face of the franchise out on the field in this early stage, especially after he received a cracked rib in his first game. This bodes well for the Lions. Sam Bradford isn’t going to beat Detroit through the air with a starting WR line of Jordan Mathews, Nelson Agholor, and Rueben Randle (or even newly acquired Dorial Green-Beckham). Leodis McKelvin, Rodney McLeod and company are not going to stop the Lions passing attack. That’s basically the ball game right there. Expect the key match-up here to be Jim Schwartz’s Philly d-line versus the young Lions o-line, however as long as they can keep the pressure to a minimum the Lions should run away with this one quickly, especially at the start of a three game home stand. Record: 4-1

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Week 6 vs LA: WIN

If the Eagles are a team in transition then Los Angeles is a team in clear rebuild. At the same time though, the Rams might actually be the bigger threat of the two teams. Sure Case Keenum and Jared Goff are battling out the QB position, but their offensive line is a complete mess of young squandered talent, and Kenny Britt is still inexcusably their starting wide receiver. That being the case, there are several redeeming qualities that make them look feisty. Their defensive line is still as deadly as ever, they have a sneaky good linebacker group despite ditching James Laurinaitis. Of course, Todd Gurley cannot be ignored in the backfield. If I were defensive coordinator Teryl Austin I would just put eleven guys in the box and see if the Rams could make an open completion as there is truly no other team with such a massive difference between their passing and rushing attack. Again the key to this game (outside containing Todd Gurley) is keeping Mathew Stafford’s jersey clean. If the Detroit o-line can do that, the predictions are for another smooth sail to a victory. Record: 5-1

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Week 7 vs WAS: WIN

There are some who think very highly of the Redskins. I am not one of those people. This is a team built upon a precipice, like a massive boulder in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. If Kirk Cousins falls apart again (predictions point in that direction), or if Matt Jones continues to play like he did later in the season, or if Jordan Reed gets hurt as he always manages to do, or if Josh Norman fails to live up to expectations as many expect him to, the boulder tips and this hype machine all comes tumbling down. I expect several of those things to occur by week seven, making Washington one of the more beatable teams on the Lion’s schedule. Have Darius Slay lock up on Garcon, send a safety high to cover for Jackson’s speed and there’s another victory and a three game sweep on the home stand. Record: 6-1

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Week 8 @ HOU: LOSS

I think the Texans look really tough this season, but not for the conventional reasons. Many strong predictions for the Texans point to the offensive improvements like their rookie wide receivers, quarterback Brock Osweiller, and running back Lamar Miller. While the receivers have looked good for rookies, Osweiller has been nothing short of a hot mess, and Miller is still a question mark. This offense will rise and fall depending on whether Miller can be the next Arian Foster. With a jumbled up injury riddled o-line, a quarterback that doesn’t seem to be providing much real support, and a looming knowledge that he’s never quite been able to break out his entire career, that will be a very difficult task to accomplish. The thing that should really concern teams about the Texans is their defense. They have always had a good unit but have always been bugged by one or two key losses or issues that hangs them up from being elite. This year however everyone is healthy (outside the precautionary sitting out of JJ watt) and more importantly Jadeveon Clowney seems to have started to figure out the NFL game. The man looks absolutely terrifying when on his game and with another half a season under his belt, he should be tearing up o-lines around the league, something that does not bode well for Taylor Decker and company. The Texans are coming off a short week and a road trip but I see the Lions win streak coming to an end here. Record: 6-2

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Week 9 @ MIN: WIN

If you threw out the quarterbacks I think it would be a pretty fair statement to suggest the Vikings have the most complete roster in the NFC North. Their defense should again be solid, Adrian Peterson is still himself, and their receivers have even improved from last season. The issue is that Teddy Bridgewater thus far has been a pretty significant disappointment and his mystery shoulder ailment is not helping his case. The key here will be to attack the Vikings most obvious flaw – their offensive line. An already poor unit has lost one of its better players in Phil Loadholt and should be ripe for outside pressure. If the Lions defense can regularly pressure Bridgewater and stop runs between the tackles, they will be able to put up enough points on the other side of the ball to win against Minnesota. U.S. Bank Stadium will not be a very friendly place to play next year but catching the Vikings on a short week after a road trip should be a great time to pull out a win on the road. Record: 7-2

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Week 11 vs JAX: LOSS

Jacksonville is a really dangerous team on both sides of the ball. Their offense looks great with Bortles growing into a solid gunslinger and a great array of weapons along with one of the better running combos in the league in Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon. Then on top of that you have all those additions on the defense from Dante Fowler to Jalen Ramsey. The talent level on this team is extremely high, the only concern is if they can find a way to come together quickly. I believe they should be on the same page by week eleven. The number two corner of the Lions does not match up well against a big bodied number two receiver like Allen Hurns, and the team as a whole might be overwhelmed here by a better roster. Despite the general stereotypical predictions of the Jaguars and the Lions coming off a bye week I have them taking this one from us at home. Record: 7-3

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Week 12 vs MIN: LOSS

In the first rematch game of the season I have the Vikings taking their revenge on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Rolling off the bye week into a loss puts the Lions in a tough situation to rebound against another difficult team. This should be an intense defensive battle, as the crowd helps eliminate the Vikings offense while the Vikings defense, with a games worth of film at their disposal, tighten up against the Lions offense. Same keys as before, which should be helped significantly by extra false start penalties, but this game will focus far more on our offense’s need to be successful. The line will have to stay strong to let Stafford get through his reads, and lesser targets will need to step up and contribute as the big names deal with tougher players covering them. In the end, Minnesota sneaks the win out in a tight one. Record: 7-4

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Week 13 @ NO: LOSS

I had this as the most likely “weird loss” of the season. Every year a contending team seems to whiff against a team they typically should beat and I see the Saints as that for the Lions this year. Their defense is still dreadful, however the offense should be quite good with Michael Thomas looking great taking over for Marques Colston, combined with Brandin Cooks in the slot, Ingram in the backfield, and of course Brees in the pocket. Health and some veteran acquisitions should help improve the Saints lineup on both sides of the ball, as well as some more reasonable and effective defensive schemes from new coordinator Dennis Allen. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to suggest the Lions could head down to the Superdome in a slump and lay an egg against a hostile crowd. I see this as a shootout that will come down to whoever has the last bullet. Put that down in my predictions as a Saints victory for now but don’t be shocked if the Lions pull this one away too. Record: 7-5

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Week 14 vs CHI: WIN

Playing Chicago at home is always a great way to snap out of a slump. If my prior predictions of their team is correct, the Bears should be basically playing for pride at this point in the season. Potentially, if things get bad enough, they may trot Bryan Hoyer out on the field as the starter. At the same time however, based on the events that have happened to the Lions at this point in the season, this game will be massively important for them. On a three game losing skid with a divisional game on the line and the Vikings and/or Packers at least breathing down their necks if not past them in the standings, this will be a must win game. I do not see them disappointing against a tuned out Bears team. Record: 8-5

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Week 15 @ NYG: WIN

The Giants are a team of big names and little substance. They have proven nothing on offense outside of the Eli to Odell connection, and the back seven of the defense is less than impressive. While they might have developed a run game by this point with a breakout from Paul Perkins, they don’t even have an o-line capable of sustaining it. The key to this game will be on the tackles limiting outside pressure. The Giants are planning on running all their pressure off the defensive ends as they are starting two run stuffing space eaters at the defensive tackle position. A lot of quick throws and outside runs should help keep the pressure at bay. I don’t suspect many issues after that. Record: 9-5

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Week 16 @ DAL: LOSS

Dallas is looking like a really good offense this season whether Tony Romo or Dak Prescott is under center. The o-line is fantastic, the running back committee should be the best in the league, Terrence Williams across from Dez Bryant is in a contract year, and the defense by this point should have their pass rushers DeMarcus Laurence and Randy Gregory back in the fold. Barring a total collapse to start the season, I have the Cowboys running away with the NFC East division. To be successful here, the Lions will have to find success throwing on a slightly weaker Dallas secondary and find a way to soften up the Dallas o-line on the other side of the ball in order to contain the run game. If Eziekiel Elliot is allowed to get into open space on a regular basis this will be a long game. As much as I would love the Lions getting their revenge in prime time at AT&T stadium, I have them dropping this one in a close one. Record: 9-6

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Week 17 vs GB: WIN

At this point Green Bay should have their playoff spot all locked up with Minnesota and Detroit fighting it out for a wild card position, based on my projections. In Detroit, in a must win game for the playoffs, the final game of the season, against a divisional rival, the crowd will be at its ultimate height and that’s not even including the possibility of Rogers and or others sitting. The Lions take this game with the help of the home crowd and head to the playoffs.

Final Record: 10-6

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Predictions from the rest of the staff at DetroitLionsPodcast.com

Case:

Whether it ends up a 5 or 12 win season, you won’t count me among the surprised. Talented but potentially highly flawed, this team is desperate for solid coaching (8-8)

R.J.:

The amount of talent on this team vs. the schedule as it looks now could bode well for the Lions. If Jim Bob Cooter can get the offense moving quickly we should have the offense to match a good defense. One way to win games is to score more points than your opponent, I think that’s something the Lions may actually be able to do this year. (11-5)

Kyle:

I tried to be as critical as possible but the more I look at the schedule, there’s no reason they can’t go 11-5. Assuming the o-line is improved and Levy is back to taking away short throws, the playoffs are a possibility. (11-5)

Brandon:

Detroit will sweep the Bears again, but split the wins with Green Bay and Minnesota. Detroit takes losses to Green Bay, Minnesota, Houston, Washington, and New York. Detroit does have a favorable schedule with playing at Green Bay week 3 and at Chicago week 4, so the weather won’t be a factor for those games. They have a Monday night football game at Dallas week 16 which will be huge for both teams. Detroit finally has the depth in the receiving game to help the offense out. Defense has depth in the line and DeAndre Levy is back which is huge. The major factor is the offensive line. If they can succeed, this will be a good season. If they fail, a repeat of last year, possibly worse, will happen. (11-5)

Chris:

I’ve had a difficult time making predictions about the Lions this year, they feel like a team that could go 4-12 or 12-4.  Either extreme would require some sort of massive event to happen.  If I take the schedule into account and how well Matthew Stafford has been running this offense, I feel like this team should get 10 wins this year, ending up at 10-6.  I don’t think Caldwell sees another season in Detroit, even if 10-6 gets the team into the playoffs, but that’s a conversation for another time. (10-6)

In the end I think we all have found a similar theme. This is a very talented team with lots of potential but also lots of questions. If things go the right way they most definitely are a playoff team. If things go wrong however, they could easily be headed for the basement. While we won’t know which direction they head until the games are played, we believe there is more reason for hope than misery for the Detroit Lions 2016 season.

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About the Author

Adam Ostermeier
Adam Ostermeier is a staff writer for detroitlionspodcast.com. From Toronto, Ontario, Canada, he has been a fan of the Lions for close to a decade and has a wide range of knowledge and experience with numerous sports. Watch for him on the reddit or send him a tweet, he will answer any of your questions and try not to be smug to the best of his ability.