The Detroit Lions finished the 2022/2023 season with a bang, winning 8 of their last 10 games. The Lions offense looked extremely efficient during the streak, led by a surprising overall season performance from their QB, Jared Goff. During this streak, the abysmal defense of the early season was showing more and more signs of competence; not the league’s best, but not the worst either (as they once were!). This leads all Lions fans to ask one specific question: How are we going to next year, given this late winning streak/performance?
First off, let’s take a look at the home schedule. The Lions have a total of eight teams; the bears, Vikings, Packers, Falcons, Panthers, Broncos, Raiders, and Seahawks. Starting off, the Lions have some easy wins the can *hopefully* bank on. The Bears, who the Lions just swept this year, are amidst a rebuild, and will not improve in the win column. Safe Win #1. The Packers are in the middle of a QB dilemma, and have no current idea on who will lead them this coming season. For this reason, this is Safe Win #2, banked by a strong home performance. A third safe win would be against the Broncos. Russell Wilson struggled this season, only showing a few glimmers of his old, Seattle self. Though the Broncos defensive is strong, I don’t see them stopping this newfound, electric Lions offense. Lastly, the Lions should beat the Atlanta Falcons. Similar to the bears, the Falcons are a rebuilding team with a young QB. Their defense is nothing special, just like the offense. Safe Win #4.
Next up, opponents who could put up a fight, and wouldn’t surprise me if they leave Detroit with a win. The Vikings offense is going to be hard to stop, but their defense has gaping holes. At home, I think the Lions get the Win. The Panthers should be in the safe win column, but after the Lions week 16 performance in Charlotte, I’m reluctant. The Panthers, who look to draft a QB this upcoming April, are always a team that lurks around, beating good teams and losing to inferior ones. Combining these unpredictable performances along with a new head coach, there is no accurate prediction for this game. Reluctantly, I give the Panthers the nod over Detroit in this one. Lastly, the Raiders and the Seahawks. Both had quite opposite seasons, with one team greatly over performing, while the other greatly underperformed. Against Detroit last year, the Seahawks won, head to head. This year, I believe the result will be different. As for the Raiders, losing Carr won’t hurt them, but really doesn’t help either. Without him, Adams and Jacobs simply can’t carry this team to a productive season, even with defensive help. Detroit wins this one, but closer than most may think.
Flipping over to the tougher part of the schedule, the away side. The Lions have a significantly harder visiting resume, including the Packers, Bears, Vikings, Chiefs, Chargers, Saints, Bucs, Cowboys, and Ravens. Depending on how the Lions play this year, this away schedule could be the brick wall stopping the Lions from making the ever-elusive playoffs, but optimistically, it isn’t as bad as it seems at face value. To start easy, the Lions will beat the Bears and Saints. The Bears for reasons stated above, and the Saints simply due to the Lions being the better, superior team. Granted, the Saints new coach should improve, and they just gained some draft capital for head coach Sean Payton, but these assets should still require a few years to pan out well for the Saints. In division, the Lions won’t go undefeated, but instead they repeat this year’s performance, 5-1. Whether they drop a game to the Packers or Vikings away I can’t say, but count on one of these teams taking the Lions down at home.
Continuing on, I think the Lions can beat the Bucs, even in Tampa. With the recent retirement of Tom Brady, as well as their below-lackluster performance in 2022, the Lions are the better team. This leaves the Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys and Ravens. This looks daunting, to say the least. The Chiefs, fresh off their AFC Championship win & subsequent trip to the SB, will be difficult to beat, especially in Arrowhead. Lions L. The Cowboys, in Dallas, have given the Lions issues. On the opposite end of the Lions second-worse performance this year, the Cowboys look to keep their Detroit winning-streak alive. Lions L. The Chargers are similar to the Lions on the offensive side, having a fun-to-watch/electric play style, but their defense gives them an edge the Lions don’t have. Khalil Mack x Joey Bosa is a menacing combo, not to mention home field advantage. Lions L. Finally, The Lions travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens. Currently, Lamar Jackson’s future in purple is in jeopardy, which really evens the odds. I feel that without Jackson, the Ravens aren’t horrible, but not good enough to win consistently. Lions W.
Although this outlook is optimistic, it may in fact happen. The Lions surprised many this year, even if it was in interesting fashion (1-6 > 9-8). If the offense continues to dominate, and the defense improves, which it had been, we may see a new era of Lions football; winning. With that being said, I have the Lions going 7-1 at home, and 5-4 away, giving an aggregate record of 12-5, and finishing first in the NFC North.