Detroit Lions: nfl FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The 2021 NFL season will be the Detroit Lions' 91st, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily been a successful century for one of the league's most title-starved franchise. Having last won a title over 60years ago, it hasn’t been fashionable to place a futures bet on the Detroit Lions in some time.
Not even in the Barry Sanders era did the Detroit Lions odds of winning a championship rise into the upper echelons of the NFL. From '89-'98, the Lions reached the conference finals only once, getting blown out by the Washington Redskins in 1991. Few probably bet on the Detroit Lions in that game, either – they were fourteen-point underdogs.
Since Sanders' retirement, the team has tumbled, reaching double-digit wins only twice. In 2008, the Detroit Lions odds of winning a championship were almost nonexistent. Instead, gamblers more likely bet on the Detroit Lions to lose every single game. Which, historically, they did, becoming the only team (at the time) to ever go 0-16 in a single season.
Fans have to go back to the 1950's, before the AFL-NFL merger, to find any modicum of sustained success. With a team highlighted by Hall of Famers on both sides of the ball, the Lions appeared in four Championship Games that decade, capturing three titles (the title game would only be dubbed "The Super Bowl" in 1967). A vicious defense, led by Hall of Famers Yale Lary, Joe Schmidt, and Jack Christiansen, complimented a competent offense highlighted by a pair of Hall of Famers, running back Doak Walker and quarterback Bobby Layne. This was the heyday of Detroit Lions football, and it was over a half century ago. If there was ever a time to bet on the Detroit Lions, that would've been it.
Recently, however, the Lions have more been known for wasting generational talent than for using it. Sanders' brilliance resulted in one division title (in '93, the Lions' last) and one playoff win. Calvin Johnson played in two playoff games in nine seasons, even racking up 211 receiving yards in a 2011 loss to the Saints. Ndamukong Suh led a 2nd-ranked defense in 2014, only to leave in free agency a year later.
Now, fans debate the Detroit Lions odds of breaking the .500 mark. Optimism for a recent turnaround reigned after HC Jim Caldwell led the team to an 11-5 record in 2014 and a surprising playoff appearance in 2016. But in 2017, with another playoff spot within reach, the Lions lost to the 5-9 Bengals, a game in which the Detroit Lions odds had them as a 3.5-point favorite, even on the road. A subsequent win over the rival Packers in Week 17 was not enough to get them into the playoffs, and Caldwell was fired immediately thereafter.
The Lions then turned to Mike Patricia to lead the team, with disastrous initial results. QB Matthew Stafford regressed in 2018, then got injured in 2019, leading to two last-place finishes in the NFC North. The best bet on the Detroit Lions, it seemed was that they would finish in the cellar.
Yet room for optimism remains. Stafford is healthy again, and the team drafted Georgia RB D'Andre Swift in the second round. 2019 first-round pick TJ Hockenson, after seeing his season end prematurely on Thanksgiving, is hoping a Stafford return will lead to a break-out sophomore campaign. For some reason, the team shipped out Pro Bowl perennial CB Darius Slay, but replaced him with veteran Desmond Trufant and 2020 third overall pick Jeff Okudah, who seems to have Slay-like potential. For the Detroit Lions odds of making a playoff run to increase, they Lions will have to hope the pair of cornerbacks improve its 31st-ranked defense.
That was supposed to be Patricia's calling card, having been the defensive coordinator in New England for six seasons, including three Super Bowl victories. Fans may point to the 2018 season, Patricia's first as head coach, when the defense ranked 10th overall. Unfortunately, with the lack of personnel, it may be hard to bet on the Detroit Lions to replicate the defense's success in 2018.
Patricia was fired during the 2020 season, replaced in the offseason by Dan Campbell, who appears that he will be a players' coach. In a huge trade, the Lions dealt Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and a slew of draft picks. Goff led the Rams to a Super Bowl just three seasons ago, so we'll see if he's motivated to try and resurrect his career in the Motor City.