Trivia Question: Who is the only team since the start of the Super Bowl era to never play in one? If you guessed the Detroit Lions you were correct!
Lions have not only never seen their team play in a Super Bowl, but it was also a full decade before the first one that Detroit had won and played the NFL championship (1957), which at the time was their third title in six years. Their quarterback was Bobby Layne and he had been hurt late in the season and missed the playoffs. In the off-season, Lane was traded to Pittsburgh and history has it as he left the Motor City, he claimed the Lions would not win another championship for 50 years. “The Curse of Bobby Layne” remains intact.
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Most Detroit fans have never heard of Layne and it’s been a couple of generations since the Lions were part of the NFL hierarchy. According to Betonline’s NFL odds, that streak will continue and Detroit is not expected to even be a factor in NFC North, let alone trying to win their conference or more.
What aspects could hold these Lions back, let’s count the ways.
Division Odds: +900 (Last)
NFC Odds: +3300 (T-13th)
Super Bowl Odds: +6600 (26th)
Season Win Total: U7 (-120)
Quarterback: Matthew Stafford is starting his 11th season having never won a playoff game. Always known for his arm strength, that is now just something TV announcers say, trying to come up with a positive attribute about him. Stafford is coming off his lowest passing rating since 2014, his fewest touchdowns in since 2012 and his lowest amount of passing yards as the fulltime QB in what used to be known as Motown. The continual coaching changes and different offensive coordinators never helped and also having almost zero for a running game placed everything on the former Georgia signal-caller. But scouts if asked if Stafford ever reached his potential and you would have a 50-50 split.
Rest of Offense: The Lions have tried to build an adequate offensive line since Barry Sanders retired, which is 20 years ago this season. Though they have four starters returning, their best lineman, T.J. Lang retired and no guard was drafted to replace him. Stafford was really lost when Golden Tate was traded last season. That was his go-to guy. Marvin Jones Jr. is a dependable receiver and Kenny Golladay has an upside, but Danny Amendola is 34 and is coming off his worst year. With Darrell Bevell the new OC for coach Matt Patricia, giving the ball to RB Kerryon Johnson should help the entire offense.
Defensive Front Seven: Patricia’s forte is defense and Lions defensive line went from one of the worst in the NFL to among the finest. Tackle Damon Harrison is arguably the best run-stopper in the league and DE Trey Flowers followed Patricia from New England to Detroit. A’Shawn Robinson and Romeo Okwara should only improve. The linebacking core is mostly average. Most NFL teams did not have rookie linebacker Jahlani Tavai taken before the 4th round, but Patricia wanted him badly and grabbed him in the second round. He’s a big-bodied backer like he had in New England and he’s the only one in Detroit.
Secondary: Corner Darius Slay returns coming off a below-average season for him. Free safety Quandre Diggs is also back but everything in the secondary will be new and different. The Lions brought in a host of new players with the hope they having more playmakers and guys who can bust up plays. Will this happen, keep a watchful eye.
Lions Level: Unless Green Bay or Minnesota implodes, it’s hard to see anything really positive happening for Detroit. There are elements that could go their way, especially if the defense keeps improving. Still, for NFL picks, Patricia’s squad appears to have a 20 percent chance at eight wins, with an 80 percent chance at seven or six victories. The Curse continues.
Doug Upstone wrote this for SportsBookReview.com.