Detroit Lions OVER 6.5 wins (-115)
The Lions are coming off another trying campaign, at least on paper, as they went 3-13-1 in head coach Dan Campbell's first year at the helm. Considering they started the 2021 season with eight consecutive losses, there's actually reason for optimism in the Motor City heading into 2022.
I'll admit, I had my doubts as to whether Campbell's kneecap-biting philosophy would work, or whether the players would even buy into their hard-nosed head coach's vision. A funny thing happened after that 0-8 start as the positive momentum began to build with a tie against the Steelers and from there the Lions went on to win three of their final eight games with some tight losses in the mix.
Football Outsiders ranked the Lions as having the league's third-highest injury impact last season, with Jeff Okudah, DeAndre Swift and T.J. Hockenson just a few of the key names that missed considerable time. Luck was certainly not on the Lions side in 2021.
With an underrated defense that welcomes back a number of key parts that missed time last year, not to mention a sneaky-good offense led by the aforementioned Swift and one of 2021's breakout wide receivers in Amon-Ra St. Brown, the needle is certainly pointing up for the Lions on both sides of the football.
Most left QB Jared Goff for dead after he was dealt from the Rams in the Matt Stafford deal last Summer. He appeared in 14 games with the Lions last season, completing better than 67% of his passes with 19 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. Working behind an even stronger, dare-I-say elite offensive line in 2022, I'm expecting Goff to build on last year's steady performance. Keep in mind, the Lions did work to upgrade their offense in the offeseason, adding veteran wide receiver D.J. Chark and using a high draft pick on Jameson Williams (who is expected to return from injury in October).
The defense, which was by no means toothless last season, figures to improve with Jeff Okudah, Romeo Okwara, Ifeatu Melifonwu and others back healthy after missing considerable time last year. Detroit made a big splash with the number two overall draft pick, selecting one of the most dominant defenders in all of college football in Aidan Hutchinson.
Scheduling works in Detroit's favor this season as well. Note that seven of the first eight opponents they faced last season were true playoff contenders. This year, they'll have the opportunity to get off to a solid start with two of their first four games coming at home against the likes of Washington and Seattle. They'll also close out the 2022 campaign with a very manageable stretch that includes the Jaguars, Vikings and Bears at home and the Jets, Panthers and Packers on the road, with that last game coming in Week 18, when the Pack could be resting their starters.
We can currently grab the Lions win total OVER 6.5 but I would anticipate that number potentially bumping up to 7.0 by the end of the preseason. Keep in mind, the Lions will be featured on this year's edition of HBO Hard Knocks so the spotlight will be firmly planted on Dan Campbell's crew in August.