Detroit Lions 2016 Season Predictions

Will the Detroit Lions celebrate in Indianapolis? Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Will the Detroit Lions celebrate in Indianapolis? Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions open their season against the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday at 4:30 ET.  If the national media’s predictions are correct, the Lions are going to be a bottom five team this year, Matthew Stafford is going to crumble under the young offensive line without Calvin Johnson, the defense is predestined to give up 500 points on the season, and Marvin Jones is overpaid. 

If the fanatics and nescient radio show call ins are to be believed, Jake Rudock should be the starting quarterback, Jim Caldwell is going to be simultaneously fired and handed an extension, and the Lions are going 11-5 and making the wild card.  Neither extreme is likely to be correct this year, and most signs point to the Lions hovering around .500, while brining new and young talent through the team.  Before the first game is played, it is time to break down some predictions from yours truly, a noted specialist* in prognostication.

 *in failure


Ezekiel Ansah

In all likelihood, the real “Most Valuable Player” will be Matthew Stafford.  More often than not, when a good quarterback plays 16 games, he is technically the most valuable player on the team.  A quarterback touches the ball on every play unless the team is trying to incorporate an inchoate system such as the wildcat in 2008.  So predicting a quarterback like Stafford to win MVP is a tedious exercise.

While Ansah was the likely MVP of last season as well, even though Darius Slay would like a word with whoever (me) is awarding these artificial accolades, this roster iteration sets up Ansah even better than the last.  The defensive line is easily the strength of this team, and with the depth and talent allocated to defensive tackle specifically, Ansah will not be the sole focal point of opposing offenses.  He may not top the 14.5 sacks he had last year, but sacks are a fickle stat anyway.

Breakout Player

Marvin Jones

Similarly to how Golden Tate took the league by storm in 2014 after signing with the Lions in free agency, Marvin Jones is looking to have his career year in Detroit.  Sporting a 1.9% drop percentage on 65 catches last year, Jones has remarkably consistent hands, again, similar to Golden Tate (2.3% in 2015 via Sporting Charts).

Jones will see an uptick in his usage this season, after being the 3rd target in Cincinnati over the past few years.  Calvin Johnson left around 150 targets after he hung up the cleats, and Jones is the beneficiary.  While Tate, Eric Ebron, Theo Riddick, and Anquan Boldin will all see their fair share of targets, it is Marvin Jones who I suspect will take over the prototypical number one receiving role.  Expect over 1,000 yards and somewhere between 4-7 touchdowns.

Best Game

December 26, at Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions outside linebacker DeAndre Levy (54) during the third quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

It does seem that every time the Lions play the Cowboys, something memorable happens.  The flag pickup in 2014.  The Stafford sneak in 2013.  The 24 point deficit comeback in 2011.   This year looks to be no different.  On December 26th, the Lions play the Cowboys at JerryWorld on

Monday Night Football.  This sets up to be a massive game for both teams so late in the year, if their respective seasons are not dead by then.  Even if there are no playoff implications, the potential story-lines are endless.  Predicting this to be the game of the year is almost too easy.

Pro Bowlers

2.5  (Ansah, Levy, Stafford)

No, nobody on the Lions got halved like Dewey Cox’s brother.  I simply think Stafford might sneak in because of how many quarterbacks drop out of the Pro Bowl each year, and for that I give a half credit to.  Stafford suits Jim Bob Cooter’s offense far more than Joe Lombardi’s fiasco offense.  If he continues to excel like he did in the second half of 2015 he should see enough votes.

If DeAndre Levy plays anything like he did in 2014, he could finally get the national recognition he deserves with a Pro Bowl appearance.  Pro Bowls are notorious for sending players that should have appeared the year prior to this year’s game.  Levy could get his due a few years later, considering his injury-plagued last season.  Ansah flew onto the national radar with his 14.5 sacks last season, and with another strong showing, could be going to Orlando in a five months.

Record Prediction


If you read this piece earlier in the offseason, I broke down the upcoming season using predictive stats based on last year’s results.  Here are the bullet points from that article that I base my prediction from.

  • Record in one-score games: 4-4 in 2015.  Teams generally hover around .500 in one-score games, and usually balance out if an anomaly occurs one year.  The Lions were 6-1 in those games in 2014.  It is possible they might see another dip this year.
  • Turnover margin: -6 in 2015.  Obviously, better turnover margin equates to more wins.  Stafford was much better at limiting turnovers with Cooter, and could see an improvement in this area over the year.
  • Point differential: -42 in 2015.  Using the point differential with the Pythagorean Theorem equation, the Lions should have won 6.95 games last year.  The same theorem found that teams who finish with their “correct” win total, neither improve nor decline the following year.

Of course, the Detroit Lions could be a team who defies expectations, because that happens every year with a few teams.  However, after seeing them throughout the preseason, I tend to side with a 7-9 record.

What about you?  What predictions do you have for the 2016 season?  Will Jim Caldwell keep his job?  Make your predictions known in the comments!

Next: Lions take care of their own, extend Theo Riddick and Sam Martin