Thirty long years ago in 1993, the Detroit Lions finished their season with a 10-6 record, good enough to win them the division. For three decades the Lions have tried and failed to achieve the status of division champions again, but now things may finally be changing in The Motor City. With the arrival of Dan Campbell as the team’s new head coach came a new mentality for the team. One that would take on the identity of the city defined by grit, and create a culture, unlike anything the franchise had ever experienced. After showing massive strides toward the end of the 2022 campaign it is apparent that Campbell and GM, Brad Holmes, have this organization primed to dominate the division for years to come.
After starting 1-6 I would have had a hard time believing that Detroit would finish 5-1 in the NFC North, sweeping both the Bears and Packers. Now sitting at the end of the regular season I find myself expecting similar superiority to be put on display entering next season. Noting the downward trajectory of the Green Bay Packers who have long dominated the division, Detroit’s talented youth is more valuable than ever. Two consecutive draft hauls following the hiring of Brad Holmes as GM yielded eight new starters and brought the team’s average age to just 25 years old. The influx of talent obtained through the draft will only continue in 2023 as Detroit owns four picks in the top sixty of a loaded draft class.
With ample spending come free agency the Lions can also look to add key veteran pieces in positions of need, preferably on the defensive side of the ball. After Jared Goff led this team on its late-season surge it became clear that the rebuild was likely further along than most originally believed. Assuming the offense can deliver even close to as much as it did this past season, moves to upgrade the defense through free agency and the draft could put Detroit in the position to compete as soon as this year.
The door is currently as open as it has ever been for the Lions to leap into the driver’s seat of the NFC North. Eleven of Minnesota’s thirteen wins came by just one score, a feat that will be difficult to repeat next season. While the aforementioned Packers may finally make a QB change after a disappointing season. The flashes of youth in Chicago and Detroit are just a sign of things to come; both organizations are primed to make big leaps as soon as next year thanks to draft capital and cap space. A change of guard is occurring in the NFC North, and the Lions are the ones on the way up.