Predicting wins and losses with the NFL season still four months away is as good as one’s chances of winning the lottery. The Lions 53-man roster has yet to be determined and there will always be players that underachieve and players that come out of nowhere and surprise us. With that said, it is still fun to look ahead and see how the Lions match up with their opponents at this point in time. It should be noted that my predictions are based on the roster the Lions have now and the assumption that all their players stay healthy as well as the players of their opponents.
Week 1: Rams at Lions
The Rams have improved their team by leaps and bounds this off season. For starters, the front office hired head coach Jeff Fisher who led very successful teams in his time at Tennessee. Hiring Fisher led to a successful draft where they picked up 10 new players.
Sam Bradford was injured most of last season and was playing under a difficult offensive scheme where he had little talent around him. With all the improvements the Rams made this off season, they still failed to find a go-to receiver for Bradford and they still have much room for improvement. In week one they should be no match for the Lions who are ready to make a deep playoff run.
Prediction:Lions win 28-13
Week 2: Lions at 49ers
This game will be intriguing for a number of reasons. For starters, the media will no doubt build up the conflict that took place at the end of the game last year when the Lions suffered their first loss of the season to the 49ers.
After the game, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz chased down 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh after Harbaugh apparently slapped Jim Schwartz on the back. Also, as I just mentioned, the Lions did suffer their first loss of the season to the 49ers. I think this game could go either way, but the Lions will be out for revenge on a nationally televised staged so I give them the slight edge.
Prediction: Lions win 20-17
Week 3: Lions at Titans
This game has a few variables because we don’t know who the Titans will start at quarterback. Will it be the veteran Matt Hasselbeck or their future franchise quarterback Jake Locker? Either way it shouldn’t matter as the Lions know who their quarterback is. If Jake Locker is the quarterback, then it will be a tougher game for the Lions. Locker adds another dimension to the Tennessee offense with his legs and he has played well against good opponents. If Locker starts for the Titans, this game could get interesting, especially if the Titans get an early lead.
Another factor in this game is Titans running back Chris Johnson. Will we see the Chris Johnson who ran for 2,000 yards from two seasons ago? Or will we see the Chris Johnson that looked like he was quiting on plays last season? Either way, expect the Lions offensive onslaught to be on full display against a Tennessee secondary that is still rebuilding.
Prediction: Lions win 34-21
Week 4: Vikings at Lions
The Vikings were absolutely awful last season, blowing big leads and winning just three games, but for whatever reason they played the Lions close both games last season. Expect Adrian Peterson to be 100% and to be even more effective with an improved offensive line.
Also, Viking quarterback Christian Ponder will have another year under his belt and Matt Kalil protecting his blind side. The Vikings’ pass rush gave the Lions fits last year, however their secondary is still horrendous. With the addition of another slot receiver in Ryan Broyles, Matthew Stafford should be able to get the ball out quick. Bottom line is the Lions have a plethora of talent at the receiver position and the Vikings have no answers for it.
Prediction:Lions win 35-21
Week 5: bye
Week 6: Lions at Eagles
Oh boy, this is a team that presents real trouble for the Lions. Although I think the Lions defense will be improved, this is an Eagles team that has just as much offensive firepower as the Lions.
Up until this point, I gave the Lions the edge in every game because the previous teams could not match the Lions point for point. Well to put it simply, the Eagles can. The Eagles beefed up an already talented defense through the draft that could cause the Lions serious trouble. I don’t see how the Lions win this game.
Prediction: Eagles win 24-17
Week 7: Lions at Bears
The Lions have had really bad luck at Soldier Field the last two times they played the Bears. Matthew Stafford suffered a shoulder injury that ultimately sidelined him for the 2010 season and yet the Lions would have won that game had the touchdown that Calvin Johnson caught in the final minutes counted (curse you NFL rule book, it was a catch!).
Last year when the Lions played the Bears, Matthew Stafford had his worst performance as a Lion throwing four interceptions (he did have a dislocated finger on his throwing hand) which resulted in one of the Lions’ most lopsided games of the year.
Unfortunately, I don’t see the Lions’ luck turning this year in Soldier Field as far as wins are concerned. However, this being a Monday night game, I do think the Lions give the Bears a run for their money and put some serious points on the board.
Prediction: Bears 34-31
Week 8: Lions at Seahawks
The Seahawks improved their roster this off season through the draft and free agency. They added quarterback Matt Flynn who played for the Packers last season and torched the Lions in week 17 when the Lions had every reason to win the game.
However, there is no way Matt Flynn torches the Lions this year (if he even starts, Seahawks have an open QB competition). These two teams should match up well with each other, but the Lions have a big edge because they play at home.
Prediction: Lions win 21-10
Week 9: Lions at Jaguars
Despite their bad record last season (5-11) the Jaguars actually had one of the best defenses in the league ranking in the top 10. The Jaguars also gave their quarterback Blaine Gabbert a go-to receiver in Justin Blackmon via the draft.
Don’t forget the Jags also have a top five running back in Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jags will be much more improved this season and their record will ultimately be based on if they can get the passing game going (8-8 is what I expect them to finish). I think the Jags have one more year before they figure it out on offense. Lions will struggle at times on offense but the Jags’ lack of offensive firepower will ultimately keep them from winning.
Prediction: Lions win 17-7
Week 10: Lions at Vikings
As previously stated, the Vikings match up really well with the Lions. The Metrodome is one of the toughest places to play because of the noise, but I still don’t see the Vikings beating the Lions this year.
Adrian Peterson has given the Lions defense trouble over the years, especially last year. While the Lions have a great front seven, because they line up in a wide nine they are more susceptible to runs, especially on counters. If the Lions don’t get out of the wide nine on first and second down they could find themselves getting burned for long runs.
What is interesting about the Lions’ defense is that they get gashed for long runs, but when it is third and short or fourth and short they stop their opponents almost every time. The Lions should save the wide nine for third down against the Vikings to try and slow down Adrian Peterson.
Week 11: Packers at Lions
This should be the Lions’ best chance to beat the Packers. The Lions should feel confident; they are riding a three game winning streak and have the Packers at home. The Packers, much like the Eagles, have the ability to match the Lions point for point, and they have a defense that is stronger than the Lions at this point. However, the Lions are playing at home and they played the Packers really well in the first half last year on Thanksgiving moving the ball at will.
Although the Lions moved the ball well, it didn’t translate to many points. The second half was an entirely different story, of course, (Suh stomp) but I think the Lions give their fans a real show and knock the Packers back a few steps.
This is my boldest prediction, I think the Lions really send a message to the Packers.
Prediction: Lions win 31-13
Week 12: Texans at Lions
If the Texans’ accomplishments from last year transition to this year, they might be the best team in the league. The Texans made it to the playoffs without their best defensive players (Mario Williams) and without their top two quarterbacks.
By the way, their third string quaterback led them to a playoff win, and did I mention he was a rookie? Imagine what kind of a team the Lions would’ve been last season had Drew Stanton started. Let’s just say that the Lions would’ve probably been drafting in the top ten once again.
The only real advantage the Lions have against the Texans is that they are playing at home. Because the Lions are playing at home, and because the Lions offense is evenly matched with the Texans, and more importantly because it’s Thanksgiving and it’s time the Lions win a Thanksgiving game, I have the Lions winning.
Prediction: Lions win 23-20
Week 13: Colts at Lions
Yes, the Colts have their franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck and yes, he looks like he is going to be really good. Do I think they have any chance in beating the Lions? Absolutely not.
The Colts did a phenomenal job in getting their quarterback of the future. Luck is highly intelligent when it comes to x’s and O’s and has the savvy it takes to play quarterback.
The Colts also gave Luck a birthday present when they drafted his college roomate Coby Fleener in the second round. I give them two thumbs up for that, but they have, by far, the most building to do of any team. The Colts let all their prominent stars leave in free agency and are completely rebuilding. This team reminds me of the 2008 Lions who went 0-16. Colts have their work cut out for them.
Prediction: Lions win 49-10
Week 14: Lions at Packers
If the real season plays out the way my mock season did, then the Packers are going to be pretty ticked after their loss to the Lions in week 11. This time around, the Lions won’t have home-field advantage or the chip on their shoulder. One could argue that the Lions haven’t won in Lambeau Field in 20 years, so the Packers will have the mental edge. I would argue that there is a reason the Lions haven’t won in Lambeau Field 20 years, and after the whooping the Lions put on the Packers in week 11, the Lions don’t stand a chance.
I see this game getting ugly for the Lions. Once again, the Lions are forced to play at Lambeau Field in December. I’d give the Lions a slight chance if this game wasn’t being played in the peak of cold weather. The Packer’ stadium has been nicknamed ”the frozen tundra”, and they seem to be the only team that knows how to win in that weather.
Prediction: Packers win 35-14
Week 15: Lions at Cardinals
The Cardinals have a solid defense and a solid offense. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they don’t have a quarterback to get them over the playoff hump, and they will be playing a Lions team that is bouncing back from the worst loss of the season. The Lions should have a solid day on defense and the offense shouldn’t have any trouble scoring.
The Cardinals have a chance to be dangerous in this game if they can jump out to a good start. Adding Malcom Floyd via the draft was a great pick up for the Cardinals. Floyd should compliment Larry Fitzgerald well. It’s possible the receiving tandem of Floyd and Fitzgerald present a real threat to a young Lions’ secondary, but if the Cardinals find themselves playing from behind, they will be in for a long day. It will be interesting to see who starts for the Cardinals at this point in the season. Will it be Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, or maybe someone else? If the Cardinals get their quarterback situation figured out (which is unlikely), they could be a formidable match up for the Lions.
Prediction: Lions win 35-17
Week 16: Falcons at Lions
The Falcons played the Lions really well last season beating them at home 23-16 in week 7. The Lions have made more improvements to their roster then the Falcons and maintained all but one of their starters from last season.
However, the Falcons have an extremely talented receiving corps in Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, and Roddy White that could pose a serious threat to the developing Lions’ secondary. Because this is another team that the Lions have something to prove to, and because it’s another home game, the Lions should beat the Falcons.
Prediction: Lions win 23-17
Week 17: Bears at Lions
This could be a pivotal game depending on how the Bears and Packers seasons are going. I expect the Lions, Packers, and Bears to be within a game or two of each other and each team splitting the season series one to one.
Now that I’ve given away my prediction for this game, here’s why I think the Lions win. At this point, the Lions are primed to secure a bye in the playoffs but only if they win this game. The Bears will be close with the Lions and should also be competing for home field advantage in the playoffs. With home field on the line for both teams, I expect this game to go down to the wire. I think both teams have a hard time stopping the other and it comes down to whoever has the ball last. On a side note I’d like to thank Roger Goodell for making week 17 a week between division rivals, it really makes the last game thrilling.
Prediction Lions win 45-42
Overall, I have the Lions going 13-3, winning the division, and securing home field advantage. I fully expect the Lions to make a deep playoff run even if they don’t meet the standards of my mock season. Let’s hope our running backs stay healthy and that Calvin Johnson doesn’t fall to the Madden curse. Bottom line is football is all about staying healthy. If the Lions stay healthy there is no telling how good this team could be.