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2023-2024 NFL Team Preview: Detroit Lions

The Lions were the darling team of NFL fans to start the season last year, a cute storybook team from Hard Knocks that wasn't good but was easy to root for because they were fun. That all changed in the second half of the season. The Lions ended the season as one of the hottest teams in the league if not the hottest, finishing 8-2 in their last 10 after a 1-6 start for a 9-8 record that just barely missed the last wild card spot. This is a team that is being taken seriously going into this season, as they are the clear favorite to win their division according to oddsmakers. With high expectations for the first time in a long time, how will this young team respond in 2023-2024?

Coaching Staff

HC: Dan Campbell: Whether or not you believe Dan Campbell knows the X's and O's as well as other coaches contending for a playoff spot, there is no denying the culture that he has created everywhere he goes. Even when he was an interim coach in Miami he rallied his group to not fall apart and earned a lot of respect from the rest of the coaching staff. His players want to play for him and they go all out all the time, you have to respect that.

OC: Ben Johnson: Many Lions fans on social media believed retaining Ben Johnson was the best move of the off-season, and it is not a crazy statement. Last season the Lions put up numbers worthy of a top 10 offense in both the rushing and passing departments. Johnson helped four players on the offense earn Pro Bowl honors, and he now has rookie RB Jahmyr Gibbs to draw up plays for. The desire to hire Ben Johnson from teams around the league speaks loudly enough that I don't need to say much more, he is highly regarded around the NFL and there is reason for it.

DC: Aaron Glenn: Glenn has some work to do on his side of the ball and the success of the team completely relies on it. Even in the last 10 weeks of the season in the time period when the Lions were winning games, they were 27th in EPA/play allowed. Looking at their defensive line, I struggle to see how they can improve their run defense unless Glenn can figure out a way to force the runner outside where Aiden Hutchinson can set the edge and Jack Campbell can meet them there, but up the middle will be a challenge that I am looking forward to watching them try to figure out.

Key Off-Season Additions

DB C.J Gardner-Johnson

CB: Cameron Sutton

CB Emmanuel Moseley

G: Graham Glasnow

RB: David Montgomery

RB: Jahmyr Gibbs (R)

LB: Jack Campbell (R)

TE: Sam LaPorta (R)

Key Off-Season Losses

RB: Jamaal Williams

CB: Mike Hughes

S: DeShon Elliott

DT: Michael Brockers

WR: DJ Chark

RB: D'Andre Swift

I really like what the Lions did this off-season. They strengthened their secondary with three really solid additions, added an inside linebacker that I believe can be a day-one contributor, and two rookies that can contribute on the offense right away as well. I wish they had done more for the defensive line in the run game but other than that, I believe they improved their roster on both sides of the ball and did not lose much.

Depth Chart Strengths

  1. OL: Last season the Lions had a strong running game that was a key component in some of their wins. While Jonah Jackson has had some issues at Left Guard, the rest of the line is rock solid. The tackles, Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell allowed only 6 combined sacks between the two, Frank Ragnow is as good as it gets in the center spot, and in the Right Guard spot Graham Glasnow was signed, and former Eagle Halapoulivaati Vaitai will definitely rotate in.

  2. Top CBs: With their off-season additions, a previous position of weakness has now become one of strength. Gardner-Johnson is a game-changer, Moseley has been great in the time he's been able to remain healthy, and Cam Sutton is an underrated but very effective player. I am worried about their depth, as I am not a fan of their backups, but their starting and nickel packages should be strong to start the season.

Depth Chart Weaknesses

  1. DT: This team was not good at stopping the run last season, and while they improved on their pass defense in the spring/summer, the run defense has stayed mostly the same. I don't trust Alim McNeill, Isaiah Buggs or third-round rookie Broderic Martin to get the job done against high-powered run games, and the Lions face GB twice and CHI twice as well as SEA, BAL, LV, and DAL.

  2. Weak and Strong-Side LBs: While I like Jack Campbell in the middle, Alex Anzalone gets slower with every year which will hurt them in coverage as well as in the run game, and Charles Harris does not provide versatility on the other side. While second-year players Malcolm Rodriguez and James Houston will contribute in positive ways, it is somewhat telling that they are still in backup positions coming into the season.

Schedule Prediction

Week 1: @ Chiefs: LOSS

Week 2: vs Seahawks: LOSS

Week 3: vs Falcons: WIN

Week 4: @ Packers: LOSS

Week 5: vs Panthers: WIN Week 6: @ Buccaneers: WIN

Week 7: @ Ravens: LOSS

Week 8: vs Raiders: WIN

Week 9: BYE

Week 10: @ Chargers: WIN

Week 11: vs Bears: WIN

Week 12: vs Packers: WIN

Week 13: @ Saints: WIN

Week 14: @ Bears: LOSS Week 15: vs Broncos: WIN Week 16: @ Vikings: LOSS

Week 17: @ Cowboys: LOSS

Week 18: vs Vikings: WIN



In terms of any of these game predictions that may be surprising, I'll go through a few. Week 4 at Lambeau Field on Thursday night. They will be playing their second Thursday night game after traveling to Kansas City for a tough season opener, home for two games, and then into the lion's den. Granted the team is not what it once was but there is still enough talent on the Packers to split the season series with Detroit, especially at home after playing their previous game at home as well. Week 10 at the Chargers on Sunday afternoon. While I think the Chargers are a very talented team, their defensive scheme/strategy allows for a lot of running up the middle, a bend-don't-break type of style like the Giants played last year, the Lions controlled the game against the Giants pretty handily. The Chargers had trouble all year last year against running teams regardless of how good they were record-wise. Lastly, week 14 at the Bears. I think this will be a classic letdown situation, if my predictions are right and they're coming off of four straight wins off of their bye week, they'll be feeling pretty good going into this game. Chicago will give them everything they've got no matter what position they are in the standings and their running scheme has given Detroit issues in the past including last season, a split here is feasible in these circumstances to me. I think the Lions improve over last season, whether that means a playoff berth or not, I have to imagine it is enough for at least a wild card in the weak NFC but there have been cases in the past where 10 wins are not enough because of tiebreakers. This team is on an upward trajectory and while there are still some holes to fill on the roster, Lions fans should be pleased this season.


Vegas has this win total at 9.5, with my record prediction at 10-7, there is no value in betting this spot in my opinion.


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