Can Lions win 7 or more with healthy Stafford?

June 17, 2020 11:48 PM

If there's one NFL coach sitting on the hot seat entering 2020, it's Matt Patricia. The 45-year-old former Patriots defensive coordinator has gone a lackluster 9-22-1 (.297) in two seasons as head coach of the Detroit Lions. Even worse, he regressed from Year 1 to Year 2, falling from 6-10 in 2018 to 3-12-1 last season, including 9 straight losses to end the season. General Manager Bob Quinn is riding shotgun on the hot seat right next to Patricia. Both the coach and GM could be canned if the Lions put together another losing campaign. Simply put, it's win now mode for Detroit.

Luckily the Lions return their best and most important player in 2020: quarterback Matthew Stafford. The 2009 No. 1 overall pick was limited to just 8 games in 2019 after suffering a season-ending back injury in Week 8. In his place the Lions were forced to start David Blough and Jeff Driskel, who went a combined 0-8. 

Detroit was incredibly active this offseason. The Lions handed out big contracts to former Eagles offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai and former Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins. Detroit also signed former Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant, former Patriots defensive lineman Danny Shelton and former Bears backup quarterback Chase Daniel. Detroit also traded for former Patriots safety Duron Harmon. In the Draft the Lions selected Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah 4th overall and added Georgia running back D'Andre Swift in the second round. 

So what do oddsmakers expect out of the Lions in 2020?

Detroit's win total is 6.5 across the board. After going 3-12-1 last season, one might assume the under is a lock. However, oddsmakers are juicing up the over at nearly every sportsbook, signaling a combination of smart money and house liability on a 7-9 or better season. This speaks to what a difference a healthy Stafford is expected to make.

DraftKings is hanging over 6.5 at -130 (under + 107). FanDuel is offering over 6.5 at -135 (under + 115). PointsBet is even higher, posting over 6.5 at -150 (under + 125). Circa Sports opened at 6.5 but has recently moved up to 7, which indicates they took in sharp money on the over. 

One disadvantage Detroit will need to overcome is their schedule. The Lions' 2020 opponents went a combined 134-121-1 (.525) in 2019, giving Detroit the 5th-toughest schedule in the NFL.

Here is the full Lions schedule

Week 1: vs Bears

Week 2: at Packers

Week 3: at Cardinals

Week 4: vs Saints

Week 5: Bye

Week 6: at Jaguars

Week 7: at Falcons

Week 8: vs Colts

Week 9: at Vikings

Week 10: vs Redskins

Week 11: at Panthers

Week 12: vs Texans

Week 13: at Bears

Week 14: vs Packers

Week 15: at Titans

Week 16: vs Buccaneers

Week 17: vs Vikings

The Lions haven't made the playoffs since 2016. Don't expect that to change in 2020. Detroit is a -335 favorite to miss the postseason at DraftKings and a + 260 underdog to make the postseason. 

Detroit is + 600 to win the NFC North, the worst odds of all four teams in the division. The Vikings are the favorite at + 150 followed by the Packers + 170 and Bears + 425.

The Lions are + 3000 to win the NFC and + 6600 to win the Super Bowl.

In terms of player props, Stafford's over/under passing yards is 4,100.5 and passing touchdowns 26.5. Stafford threw for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in only 8 games last season. Stafford is + 5000 to win MVP and + 700 to win Comeback Player of the Year, trailing only Ben Roethlisberger + 350 and Rob Gronkowski + 400.

Kenny Golladay's over/under receiving yards is 1,100.5. Last season Golladay finished with 1,190 yards.

Marvin Jones' over/under receiving yards is 875.5. Jones finished with 779 yards in 2019.

Swift's over/under rushing yards is 725.5. 

Patricia is + 5000 to win Coach of the Year. 

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