Just four active franchises have never reached a Super Bowl, and the Detroit Lions are one of them. Any shot that drought ends this year? Most likely not, but let’s predict the Lions’ 2017 regular-season results.
The Detroit Lions had a solid 2016 season and probably saved Coach Jim Caldwell’s job by finishing 9-7 and making the playoffs for the second time in three years – they were dominated in a wild-card loss in Seattle. Frankly, I’m not sure if the Lions were good, lucky or both. Matthew Stafford led an NFL-record eight fourth-quarter comeback wins last year. There’s only so many times you can play with fire and not get burned.
Detroit’s season essentially ended in Stafford’s final fourth-quarter comeback victory: 20-17 over the visiting Chicago Bears in Week 14. Stafford ran for a go-ahead, 7-yard touchdown with 3:17 left, but he severely injured this middle finger on his throwing hand earlier in the game and struggled overall. Stafford had been considered an MVP candidate to that point, but he wasn’t the same the rest of the season. The Lions were in position to win their first division title since 1993 but lost their final three with Stafford hurting and then the playoff game in the Pacific Northwest.
This is a contract season for Stafford, the former No. 1 overall pick out of Georgia. So he could soon become the highest-paid player in NFL history at around $25 million a season. The Lions opened preliminary talks on a new deal with Stafford around the NFL combine, but no contract is expected until this summer. Stafford, 29 and entering his ninth NFL season, is coming off one of the best years of his career. He threw for 4,327 yards with 24 touchdowns.
The Lions will look a bit different on the field as they have unveiled some very sharp new uniforms. Detroit upgraded the offensive line in free agency by signing Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang but still have questions at running back. The team largely focused on defense in the draft. The Lions are +400 third-favorites on NFL futures to finally win their division again. I only see that if Green Bay loses Aaron Rodgers to injury for multiple games.
Lions 2017 Win Total At SBR’s Top Sportsbooks: 8
Capper’s Projected Record: 7-9
Lions Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, Arizona, 1 p.m.
Detroit opened at -2.5 on NFL odds for Week 1 vs. the Cards and has won its past season openers at home. WIN
Week 2: Monday, Sept. 18, at NY Giants, 8:30 p.m.
Detroit’s lowest-scoring game last season was a 17-6 loss at the Giants on a very cold day in Week 15. Should be no weather concerns this time. This also marks the first of five games the Lions play this season against opponents who qualified for last year’s playoffs. LOSS
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Tough short week assignment to face the defending NFC champions and that high-powered offense. LOSS
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
The Lions absolutely stole a game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 9 last year, winning 22-16 in OT on a Stafford 28-yard TD pass to Golden Tate, who did most of the work. LOSS
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, Carolina, 1 p.m.
If the Lions are 1-3 here as I project, it’s must-win game or Caldwell goes right back on the hot seat. WIN
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, at New Orleans, 1 p.m.
It’s Detroit’s third straight season playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and the Lions won the past two. It was 28-13 in 2016. LOSS
Week 7: BYE
Nice spot for a bye week in between facing four likely Hall of Fame quarterbacks in a row.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29, Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m.
If you have to face that Steelers’ offense, best to be coming out of the bye week to do so. WIN
Week 9: Monday, Nov. 6, at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m.
So, the Lions face Cam Newton, then Drew Brees, then Ben Roethlisberger and now Rodgers. Yikes. Detroit lost 34-27 at Lambeau last year in Week 3. LOSS
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Finally a QB break: Cody Kessler or Kevin Hogan or Brock Osweiler or even perhaps rookie DeShone Kizer. Browns are in the select group of teams with Lions to never play in a Super Bowl. WIN
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Usually the Lions are at home on the Sunday ahead of their Thanksgiving Day game, but not this year. Detroit lost 17-14 at Soldier Field last year. LOSS
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 23, Minnesota, 12:30 p.m.
Turkey Day rematch with the Vikings as Detroit won 16-13 in 2016 on a late Darius Slay interception and Matt Prater 40-yard field goal as time expired. WIN
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
The benefit of the Thanksgiving game is extra rest and preparation heading to Baltimore, always one of the toughest places in the NFL to play. LOSS
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
This marks the only time that Detroit plays a second straight road game; at least Stafford & Co. won’t need worry about cold weather. LOSS
Week 15: Saturday, Dec. 16, Chicago, 4:30 p.m.
This is an NFL Network game and thus we could see the Lions’ awesome new Color Rush uniforms for this one. As noted above, Lions’ 2016 season went down the tubes in their Week 14 comeback win over the Bears with the Stafford injury. WIN
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
The Lions last played in Cincinnati in 2009 when they dropped a 23-13 contest. Detroit generally does not fare well in outdoor cold-weather games as this should be. LOSS
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Hey, the Lions did beat the Packers in the final game of the 1993 season to win their last division title. But these Lions have lost three straight to the Packers and the past two at Ford Field. WINCheck Out An In-Depth Analysis Of Lions 2017 Schedule