A Detroit Lions season preview including some predictions and hot takes for the 2020 NFL Season.
Welcome to part two of Chris Robbins’ Detroit Lions storyline season predictions. In part one found here, we covered the first eight games of the 2020 Detroit Lions schedule, and some possible plot twists that could emerge in the first half of the season.
As a general reminder and disclaimer, things like injury projections are not meant to be wished, hoped for, etc. and are purely to help promote realism within the narrative presented. Expecting the Detroit Lions to remain perfectly healthy over the course of 16 NFL games is not reasonably realistic, and while most of the things I predict to happen probably won’t, leaving out things like injuries seemed a bit too unrealistic for the ultimate objective I set out for when I first started doing these. With that out of the way, below is part two – the second half of the season.
Week 9- At Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings’ already weakened secondary is banged up as Anthony Harris is out for two more weeks including this game due to a nagging ankle injury. This leaves Harrison Smith as the team’s lone playmaker in the secondary, but fortunately for the Vikings, the Detroit Lions are still without their starting two receivers. Hockenson has another rough outing as he only notches two catches for 12 yards in the first three quarters, which has halted the Lions offense. Going into the 4th down by 12, Lions OC Darrell Bevell is forced to make an adjustment. Run Hockenson and Swift out wide as the team’s two starting wide receivers.
The plan works. Swift eats up all the underneath routes as Stafford exploits him as the hot read, while Hockenson becomes the deep target and comes down with a huge 25-yard catch on a crucial third and 15 to extend a late drive. But that’s not all. Bevell has one more trick up his sleeve.
The Detroit Lions are in a third and two situation from the five and put Kerryon Johnson at QB out of wildcat. They take Stafford out of the game for a play and run a 3 RB look with Peterson, Kerryon, and Swift all on the field at the same time, along with Hock and James. A true power set. The Vikings are caught with 12 men on the field, giving the Lions a first down. However on the next play, Kerryon Johnson gets his legs taken out from underneath him fighting for the extra inches he needs to get a TD by Anthony Barr, and it’s later revealed he will miss the next month. However, he comes up big in that moment, getting across the goal line.
The Lions D comes up with a huge 4th and two run stuff from Danny Shelton up the middle to secure a Lions victory 21-20
Week 10- At Washington Football Team
With eight games over, half of the season, the Lions sit at 5-3. While this is better than what some analysts were projecting for the team, the team is still a game behind the Vikings and Packers for the division and out of the playoff picture.
The good news, they have Washington coming to town. The bad news, Marvin Jones is out for this one, and Kenny Golladay is still out for two more weeks, while Kerryon is also out for four games. However, the defense does its part, led by Jeff Okudah who unlike Darius Slay in 2019 shuts down Terry McLaurin and the Detroit Lions walk out of Washington with a relatively uneventful 21-10 win.
Week 11- At Carolina Panthers
Detroit now sits at 6-3, which has fans buzzing about a potential playoff appearance. Fans start to see the process that led to this point, and things appear to be coming together… Until they fall apart.
The Panthers follow the Cardinals game plan from week three for how to attack the Lions offense, and Jeff Okudah looks like a rookie while Trufant struggles against his former divisional rival.
Teddy Bridgewater takes his time as the Lions pass rush struggles even against a relatively poor Panthers OL, and Da’Shawn Hand suffers a minor injury in the first quarter that keeps him out the remainder of the game.
The Detroit Lions also lack any answer for how to contain Derrick Brown on offense, who wins his matchup vs Frank Ragnow, netting not just one, but two sacks on Stafford, Ragnow’s first two sacks allowed on the season, while Christian McCaffrey dominates Jahlani Tavai and Jamie Collins for an easy three touchdowns.
All buzz on the Lions crashes down to a blazing halt, as the team falls to the Panthers 35-24.
Week 12- Vs Houston Texans (Thanksgiving Day Game)
The Lions, fortunately, have a short week after the loss to the Panthers, as they return home for Thanksgiving against the Texans. Houston has been having a tough season, as Watson looks human against even league average teams like the Colts and Titans.
The Detroit Lions, however, stick to their own script and do their own thing. Fortunately for them, it works. Desmond Trufant shuts down Brandin Cooks due to the athleticism factor, while Okudah takes away the Texans #2 options, which helps lead the Lions back to the Win column.
Lions Win 28-17.
Week 13- At Chicago Bears
In meeting #2 between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, the Lions receive help from a good friend – Marvin Jones. The Bears are without Kyle Fuller for this one, so the Lions really look to force that matchup disadvantage as much as possible, at which they find success in the first half. The Bears try and adjust to bracket him in the second half, but all that does is leave Hockenson and Swift open to run RB/TE concepts with little resistance. Unfortunately the Lions run game never really gets going, and they aren’t able to chew clock, however, as Mitch Trubisky attempts a comeback. After the Bears bring it within six, the Detroit Lions still try and force the run on the Bears front, as Akiem Hicks forces a fumble on third and three in the red zone, which is recovered by Roquan Smith for an 85-yard touchdown. The Lions are now down by one point, with only 65 seconds left on the clock. Stafford forces a pass to Marvin Jones in double coverage which is picked off by Eddie Jackson and thus seals the Lions loss.
Week 14- Vs Green Bay Packers
The Lions now sit at 7-5 and with four games remaining have three daunting foes on their schedule and one team that they’re roughly equal to. The Green Bay Packers are tied with the Detroit Lions at 7-5, and are in a battle for the 7 seed in the playoffs. The good news for the Detroit Lions is that Kenny Golladay returns, and three of the remaining games are at home. This proves huge as Aaron Rodgers really struggles in this one as Aaron Jones is forced to leave a few plays in due to a rolled ankle. With the run no longer a real threat, the Lions are able to shut down Davante Adams as Jeff Okudah leads the charge for the secondary and steps up against his division foe. Trey Flowers gets his revenge on David Bakhtiari netting a sack and a half, and the Lions hold off the Packers 28-20 to move to 8-5. Their first .500 season under Patricia.
Week 15- At Tennessee Titans
The Lions last regular-season road game is being played outdoors in a snowy Tennessee. The Lions practiced outside in a December snow system of their own, which helps, but holds no guarantees. Stafford is quite banged up by this point in the season, and after the refs missed a late hit call on the QB’s final pass attempt of the game vs Green Bay, he will be limited against the Titans defense, notwithstanding the weather. Stafford’s OPOY and CPOTY take huge hits this week, as the QB barely hits 150 passing yards late, and a lot of those came on a 40-yard chunk play by TJ Hockenson. However, it’s the emergence of D’Andre Swift that really shines in this one. With AP starting to slow down late in the year and Kerryon still out, Swift had to step up in this one, and he did with a 100-yard rushing game, his first of his young career. Unfortunately for the Lions, Derrick Henry was even better, and led the Titans to a respectable 21-14 win over the Lions in a game where both teams looked like they would be wildcard, but not Super Bowl, contenders.
Week 16- Vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Detroit Lions are very familiar with Tom Brady of course, due to the team’s ties to New England. This game also could have strong playoff seeding implications as well, as the Bucs are unlikely to win the NFC South due to a cruising New Orleans Saints team.
It’s clear early on, though, that the Bucs weapons are just too much against the Lions man coverage scheme.
Chris Godwin easily outmatches a young rookie in Jeff Okudah which results in him getting benched for Amani Oruwariye to start the second half, while Desmond Trufant struggles against his former rival Mike Evans. Even Tracy Walker has a rough game as Rob Gronkowski wins consistently against him in one on one coverage.
Meanwhile, Stafford takes a huge shot from Vea, which makes the minor injury he suffered vs Green Bay even worse. After throwing two picks and down by 21, the Lions decide to give Stafford a breather in the second half by putting in Chase Daniel. While he does a little bit better than a hurt Stafford did in the first half putting up two TDs and the defense rebounds with Amani Oruwariye and Trufant switching matchups in the second half as a halftime adjustment, the Detroit Lions ultimately prove they are not ready to play with the big boys just yet and fall to 8-7 against the Bucs by a score of 38-21.
Make sure to check out part 3 of my series to see where the Detroit Lions end up, and what the playoff picture might look like tomorrow!
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow @C_Robbins_ on Twitter, and leave me your thoughts on the Detroit Lions Subreddit! Check out some more of Chris’s articles for The Detroit Lions Podcast here.