Detroit Lions predictions, odds, and preview for the 2023 season

246
 

Detroit Lions 2023 season preview and predictions

This appeared in the original VSiN NFL Betting Guide released on June 29, 2023.

 

Top NFL Resources:

Matt Youmans: Dan Campbell is part coach, part caveman. He has talked about biting kneecaps and kicking in teeth. He’s a wildly emotional tough guy who’s not too shy to cry on camera. Formerly a punch line, his team is suddenly the favorite to win the NFC North. The Lions have earned respect in the betting market, but it’s not always easy to win when it’s expected. It’s worth remembering that Campbell’s record in Detroit was 4-19-1 before his team got hot and went 8-2 down the stretch. Be careful assuming the Lions will simply take the next step up.

Offense

Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and Aaron Rodgers each threw more interceptions than Jared Goff last season. Goff put up elite numbers, passing for 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions. In the final 10 games, when the Lions won eight times, Goff passed for 17 touchdowns with one interception. His offensive line is also elite and led by center Frank Ragnow and tackles Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell. Goff was sacked only 23 times in 17 starts. The bad news for Detroit is wideout Jameson Williams, a former first-round pick, will miss the first six games for a gambling-related suspension. The good news is Goff still has plenty of weapons — wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown, Marvin Jones Jr. and Josh Reynolds, rookie tight end Sam LaPorta and running backs David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. The Lions ranked fifth in scoring offense (26.6 ppg), and coordinator Ben Johnson is back to call the plays.

Defense

Aidan Hutchinson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2022, lived up to the hype while recording 9.5 sacks as a rookie. Detroit is loaded with defensive line and linebacker talent. Middle linebacker Alex Anzalone made a team-high 125 tackles and will be flanked by Jack Campbell, one of the team’s first-round picks. The secondary also has playmakers, led by cornerback Cameron Sutton, safety Kerby Joseph and rookie Brian Branch, a second-round pick from Alabama. Detroit ranked last in total defense (392.4 ypg) and 28th in scoring (25.1 ppg), but its numbers improved dramatically in December and January, so expect significant improvement from a unit that made progress and added key personnel in the offseason.

Outlook

The betting public is piling on the bandwagon by betting the Lions Over their win total and to win the division and Super Bowl. A contrarian handicapper would tap the brakes. Not so fast. Yes, everything looks impressive on paper for a team that appears primed to make the playoffs, yet it’s still a Detroit team that went 3-13-1 in 2021 and started 1-6 last year. Goff is not quite Mahomes, the quarterback he will face in Kansas City in Week 1, and Campbell is not Andy Reid. DraftKings opened the Lions as favorites in 12 of their 17 games — and favorites of 3.5 points or more in six games. While it’s easy to root for Detroit to get over the hump and win the division and a playoff game for the first time since the early 1990s, you need to see it to believe it sometimes with a traditional loser. Ten wins is attainable, and another 9-8 finish is certainly realistic in a weak division. This win total is just a lean Under 9.5, not a bet.

This appeared in the Updated VSiN NFL Betting Guide released on August 31, 2023.

Michael Lombardi: If you are “all in” on the Lions hype train, there has been zero evidence this summer that the train is heading to the correct station. That isn’t to imply the train is lost. Rather, the Lions have held back playing their veterans and taking the games seriously this summer. The Lions expect to pick up where they left off last year, which is being a great offense and a defense that can get a few stops. 

We are going to assume they improved on defense, particularly at corner, where the Lions are counting on Emmanuel Moseley and Cam Sutton to cover man to man. We are also going to assume that their pass rush will improve and that Jared Goff’s 1.2 interception percentage will continue to hold true, even though his career numbers with the Rams were 2.3. But Goff was solid last season. He made all the right throws off of play-action, and after the debacle in Dallas when he threw two interceptions, Goff only had one more the rest of the season. When protected in this offense, Goff can make all the throws. And if Jahmyr Gibbs is a better version of D’Andre Swift, the Lions’ offense can become even better, and that’s not an assumption.

Player to Watch: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

Wunderkind offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is back after flirting with the head-coaching ranks on his quest to take his multifaceted attack to new heights. His return should mean great things for this franchise, but it’s specifically huge for Amon-Ra St. Brown. The third-year wideout has looked like a superstar every step of the way in training camp. This offense wants to run the ball more than most. But St. Brown is the focal point of this attack, and he brings an underrated ability to the table. And it’s easy to envision the Sun God hitting another level after posting 106 receptions last season. He’s likely going to work on the outside more through the first six weeks with Jameson Williams suspended. But you can trust in the Sun God to figure it out. – Benjamin Raven, MLive (@BenjaminSRaven)

VSiN NFL Betting Tools:

NFL Odds | NFL Betting Splits | NFL Matchups | Parlay Calculator