2017 Over/Under Wins Forecast: 8
If you’re looking for a volatile squad, the Motor City is the place to be, as the Lions haven’t posted back-to-back winning seasons in more than 20 years.
While showing marked signs of improvement last year, which led to nine wins and a Wildcard berth, the Silver and Blue have yet to establish a consistent power running game.
Making matters worse is the fact that franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford continues to absorb an excess amount of punishment.
Among NFL quarterbacks, only Blake Bortles has been sacked by the opposition (140) more than Stafford (126) over the last three seasons.
GM Bob Quinn deserves credit for investing much of his draft capital in shoring up the offensive line and has even gone a step further in the offseason by signing highly-coveted linemen T.J. Lang and Ricky Wagner.
Coming off a Pro Bowl season, Lang is among the best at his position, particularly in pass protection, but Detroit is getting the Michigan native on the back end of his illustrious career.
The soon-to-be 30-year-old showed signs of wear last season by experiencing a lingering hip issue and a foot injury.
Furthermore, starting left tackle Taylor Decker reportedly suffered a shoulder setback in OTAs which should prevent him from being active for at least part of the season, according to several news services.
A general lack of depth at wide receiver and Ameer Abdullah’s durability and ball-security concerns are other factors that might hold the offense back from being among the top units in the league.
Defensively, the Lions should benefit greatly from the addition of first-round pick Jarrad Davis, whose agility to slip blockers and keen instincts versus the run and pass should pay immediate dividends at middle linebacker.
But Ziggy Ansah’s sack regression from 14.5 sacks in 2015 down to two last year was unexpected. They’ll need the BYU product to return to his past dominance if they hope to sniff the postseason, especially considering the team’s continued struggles on the back end.
The Lions featured a middle-of-the-road secondary in terms of passing yards allowed, but they surrendered the second-most touchdown passes (33) in the NFL.
One-time Oakland Raiders’ first-round pick D.J. Hayden has been brought in to line up across from Darius Slay as a starting cornerback.
But it’s doubtful that he’ll be the answer given that he’s missed 19 out of 64 games in the past four years. Even worse, is a stat that was recently provided by Josh Dubow of the Associated Press highlighting the fact that Hayden has committed the same amount of penalties in his career (35) as interceptions, sacks, passes defensed and fumble recoveries.
The schedule won’t offer Jim Caldwell’s boys any lay-ups, as the Silver and Blue face off against the Giants, Vikings, Saints and Packers on the road in the first half.
The last five games, similarly, include three daunting road trips versus the Ravens, the Buccaneers and Bengals followed by a Week 17 home matchup versus Green Bay.
Projected Record: 8-8. The typical highs and lows aren’t conducive to establishing any sustained momentum. The sportsbooks have this team all figured out.