It took the Detroit Lions years to finally get the kind of lockdown Defense it needed to make a deep run in the NFC Playoffs and now that they finally got it... Poof! Money and Free Agency hurt them.
All of a sudden the two young anchors of the Detroit Defensive Line—Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley—fled to Miami and St. Louis respectively to help their new teams improve their needing Defensive units. So what now? And does this necessarily mean that Detroit’s D will immediately regress? Let’s look at that as well as some Trends, games the Lions should be worried about along with some new players who will be calling the Motor City home now and make a couple of Futures or Regular Season game picks for the NFC North’s Lions for our readers.
Detroit Lions: What Goes Up, Must Come Down, Spinning Wheel Got to Go ‘Round
The Detroit Lions (11-5 in 2014) and 2nd-year Head Coach Jim Caldwell (8-9 ATS) have three bad things going for them according to the research my and my crack staff (my Maine Coon cat Sir Louis Smudge) have done this hot, July morning in the Mojave Desert: 1—Detroit lost the two anchors of its DL, and not just two regular starters, but two big and futuristic NFL stars in NT Ndamukong Suh—the prize of the Free Agent signing period who went for the Big Bucks and the sunny South Florida weather and signed with the Miami Dolphins—and DL Nick Fairley, who also decided to go, he heading to the NFC West and the upstart St. Louis Rams. And what happens when a boat loses its anchor(s)? It floats away usually, although Detroit (33/1 to win Super Bowl, bet365) did sign Free Agents NT Haloti Ngata (Ravens) and DT Tyrunn Walker (Jaguars) to help the DL and the rest of the players on Defense from losing confidence. 2—The Minnesota Vikings look like they could be on the Upswing with RB Adrian Peterson back in the fold and running mad and QB Teddy Bridgewater maturing, and, the Green Bay Packers totally own the division, own the Lions (6-2 ATS L8) and are looking to own the NFC. So, Detroit (+450 to win NFC North, bet365, SkyBet, Paddy Power, BetVictor) could be in for a long season. And, 3—The start of the Lions Regular Season schedule is rated X. My god, you may want to hide the wife and kids and wrap your dog some aluminum foil before beholding the horror that awaits Detroit from Weeks 1 through 5. Ready? Week 1: @ Chargers (Chargers -1½; Total: 45½, Pinnacle); Week 2: @ Vikings; Week 3: Broncos; Week 4: @ Seattle; Week 5: Cardinals. Those five teams combined to go 53-32 SU record last season, so, looking at that schedule in a negative light, the Lions could possibly start 0-5 if everything goes wrong, possibly burying some sports gamblers’ Futures bets by Halloween as well as maybe Detroit’s postseason hopes. Maybe this team peaked in 2014. This season will be a big test and this is a tough team.
The positives? Detroit was 7-1 at Home last season (5-3 ATS) and has created a reality where this team now actually does have some expectations of protecting their Home turf. And the Lions Defense only allowed 282 points last season, although how much losing Suh and Fairley ends up affecting that dominance remains to be seen. It sure seems like it can’t be good for business in the Motor City, but at least Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew went out and signed aforementioned Free Agent DL Ngata and Walker to make sure that the DL stays intact and mean. Detroit (50/1 to win NFC, Ladbrokes) does have some nice depth at the QB spot with Stafford, Kellen Moore, Dan Orlovsky and Waiver pickup (Patriots) Garrett Gilbert (SMU), like the St. Louis Rams, the Lions will be able to weather any Injuries although riding the golden arm of starting QB Stafford (85.7 QBR, 4,257 yards, 22 TDs in 2014) will be Detroit’s Plan of Attack, and maybe more so now. And the Lions have a plethora of guys for Stafford to get the pigskin to, including perennial All-Pro WR Calvin Johnson (71 receptions, 1,077 yards, 8 TDs), WR Golden Tate (99 receptions, 1,331 yards, 4 TDs), RB Joique Ball (223 rushes, 860 yards, 7 TDs), Rookie RB Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska), TE Brandon Pettigrew, TE Eric Ebron, WR Corey Fuller and WR Greg Salas, among others. Another area of brightness for the Lions comes in their +7 Turnover Differential Margin last season (27 Takeaways - 20 Giveaways =), which tied for the 6th best mark in the league last season, but that was with the combined 628 pounds of Sumo monsters Suh and Fairley. It seems betting the Lions Regular Season Team Win Total (8½ Under -140, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) Under seems appropriate with the pressure of those huge DL losses, the brutal schedule and the talent of the Packers and Vikings.
Detroit Lions QB Depth: Matthew Stafford—Kellen Moore—Dan Orlovsky—Garrett Gilbert
Who’s New and Could Have an Impact? Free Agent Signing NT Haloti Ngata (Ravens), DT Tyrunn Walker (Jaguars), Rookie OG Laken Tomlinson (Duke), Rookie RB Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska), Rookie CB Alex Carter (Stanford), Rookie DT Gabe Wright (Auburn), Rookie FB Michael Burton (Rutgers), Rookie CB Quandre Diggs (Texas), Rookie OT Corey Robinson (South Carolina), Undrafted Free Agent Rookie RB Rasheed Williams (Alfred State), Undrafted Free Agent RB Desmond Martin (Wayne State)
Who’s Gone? NT Ndamukong Suh (Dolphins), DL Nick Fairley (Rams), RB Reggie Bush (49ers)
Possible Losses on Schedule: Week 1 NFL Picks: @ Chargers; Week 2: @ Vikings; Week 3: Broncos; Week 4: @ Seahawks; Week 5: Cardinals; Week 8: @ Chiefs; Week 10: @ Packers; Week 12: Eagles; Week 13: Packers; Week 14: @ Rams; Week 15: @ Saints; Week 17: @ Bears
Some Good Potential Betting Spots in Regular Season: Fading the hungry Lions when they play their NFC North rival Vikings both Away at Minneapolis in Week 2 and Home at Ford Field in Detroit in Week 7 seems smart with the Lions a woeful 1-4 ATS L5 in Princeville and 2-6 ATS L8 overall versus the Purple People Eaters on Minnesota. Also, betting against (fading) Detroit against future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in Week 15 at the Superdome in the Big Easy and laying whatever small points would be a solid Trend pick with the Saints 5-0 ATS L5 against Detroit and New Orleans 5-1 ATS L6 at Home against them. Who dat? Dat da Lions getting trampled by a Bourbon Street parade and hit in the mane by a bunch of Black and Gold beads, bruh. And what might be a good spot in which to back the Lions? How about when they play the Bears at Home in Motown in Week where Detroit is a sparkling 5-0 ATS L5 against Chicago? With Jay Cutler at QB—a cigarette-smoking guy the team tried to unload to the Tennessee Titans on NFL Draft night—the Bears may be a team Detroit ends up liking beary, beary much in 2015 because it can beat them and know they’ll likely finish below them in the division...probably last if that meow mean 4th place.
Any Good Lions Futures Bets Now? Betting the Lions Regular Season Team Total Under 8½ -140 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) seems like a wise move at this point in Time as if this Detroit team is really headed for some regression in 2015, it may take a month or so for the Oddsmakers and the General Public to figure that out. With a driven Green Bay Packers (-275 to win NFC North, bet365) team poised to get back to the NFC Championship Game again and maybe even Super Bowl 50 this time around, backing Detroit to win the division may be dead money before the season even gets going, with the Lions facing that aforementioned brutal early season schedule and the Minnesota Vikings (9/1 to win NFC North, bet365) possibly being a Dark Horse team on the Upswing in the coming 2015 Regular season, which kicks off on Thursday, September 10th at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro with the Patriots and the Steelers.
Recent Relevant Trends: Lions 5-1 ATS L6 vs Bears, 5-0 ATS L5 Home; Lions 4-1 ATS L5 vs Broncos; Lions 1-4 ATS L5 vs Chargers; Lions 1-5-3 ATS L9 vs 49ers, 1-4 ATS L5 Home; Lions 2-6 ATS L8 vs Vikings, 1-3 ATS L5 Home; Lions 0-5 ATS L5 vs Saints, 1-5 ATS L6 Away; Lions 1-5 ATS L6 vs Cardinals but 4-0 ATS L4 Home; Lions 1-4 ATS L5 vs Seahawks Away
Players to Watch: WR Golden Tate, Free Agent NT Haloti Ngata (Ravens), DT Tyrunn Walker (Jaguars), Rookie Laken Tomlinson (Duke), Rookie RB Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska), Rookie CB Alex Carter (Stanford), WR Calvin Johnson, RB Joique Bell, Free Agent S Taylor Mays (Bengals), CB Rashean Mathis, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, DE Darryl Tapp, TE Eric Ebron, Free Agent K Matt Prater (Broncos), Free Agent Claimed Off Waivers QB Garrett Gilbert (Patriots), WR Lance Moore
Detroit Lions Futures Book Pick: Detroit Lions Regular Season Team Total Under 8½ -140 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Bet Against Detroit Lions in Regular Season: Week 2—at Minnesota Vikings; Week 4—at Seattle Seahawks; Week 7—vs. Minnesota Vikings at Home
Bet on Detroit Lions in Regular Season: Week 6—vs Chicago Bears at Home