Detroit Lions: Jumping into the rabbit hole of predictions
As far as preseason expectations are concerned, it’s once again the Detroit Lions versus everyone else as fans get ready for 2019.
I’m not a huge film buff. But any time I see a movie trailer that catches my eye, I make sure to check it out on Rotten Tomatoes first to see if it’s worth watching the whole thing. Taking all sorts of reviews from just about everyone, experts and non-experts, critics and fans alike, it gives a pretty strong idea of if a particular movie is good or not.
If more than 75% of the critics give a positive review, it’s considered ‘Certified Fresh’ (AKA it’s a ‘good’ movie). Using the same basic idea, I poked around at various preseason ratings and predictions to see how good people think the Detroit Lions are heading into 2019.
Don’t shoot the messenger, but here’s what I found …
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press: Projected record of 7-9
One thing that stands out in Birkett’s analysis is that he doesn’t consider an exceptionally tough NFC North among the main reasons for a record below .500. While most seem to think the NFC North is among the best, if not the best division in the whole league, Birkett says it will be easier to maneuver than last year, and is “not as strong as it once was”. But yeah, still only seven wins.
Nate Davis, USA Today: Projected record of 3-13
Davis says the Lions’ home schedule in particular is too tough, the Vikings and Packers will both be better, and seems to think that two west coast trips (two months apart) will be too much to cope with. Now personally, I’m not always a ‘glass half full’ guy with the Lions, but to make all those positive offseason moves and come away with half as many wins as last year, with all the early season turmoil and then crying ‘Uncle’ halfway through? That hurts, Nate.
Madden 20 video game: 80 overall team rating (tied for 23rd out of 32 teams).
Unless you’re playing on Rookie mode, winning a Super Bowl on Madden with the Lions could be just as unlikely as them winning the real thing. Even the Patricia-ball defensive unit only rates as an 80, with more than half the league ahead of them on the game. I don’t play Madden anymore, but I’m guessing the hack of tossing outside sweeps to Barry Sanders on every play and letting him go off for 300+ yards a game doesn’t work like it did in Madden 95.
Oddsshark.com: +8000 Super Bowl odds (tied for 24th out of 32 teams).
The local sports writer isn’t betting on the Lions, the national writer isn’t either, the video game wouldn’t put its money on them, so it’s no surprise that the gamblers aren’t either. Moving down the lineup, things don’t look too much better for the Honolulu Blue.
Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report: Projected record of 6-10.
Conor Orr, Sports Illustrated.com: Projected record of 4-12.
Elliott Harrison, NFL.com power rankings: Lions are 20th overall (this would equate to about a 7-9 record if they finished the season 20th).
Michael Rothstein, ESPN.com: Projected record of 8-8.
Now we’re getting somewhere! Finally, someone who doesn’t expect the Lions to have a losing record this year. With that said, no talk of any playoff hopes or contending for any sort of title.
Athlon Sports: Predicted finish of 4th place (last) in NFC North.
Et tu, Athlon? Maybe it’s personal bias, but Athlon always feels pretty legit to me. Hard to argue too much with what they have to say.
My Prediction for the Lions
Before I followed the Rotten Tomatoes model, I probably would have put the Lions at 9-7 for my pre-preseason prediction. They did more or less exactly what they set out to do during free agency, and both sides of the ball look better on paper than going into last year.
Matt Patricia continues to surround himself with people that can tolerate him (that probably comes off sounding cynical, but I do mean it as a positive), and a defense that clicked at the end of 2018 could be nasty (much better than an 80 overall rating, I should add).
Even so, the consensus is that the Lions are once again going to struggle. Not a single writer or expert (or bookie, or video game designer, etc) expects the team to finish with a winning record. Therefore, I can hope all I want for Stafford and Co. to go 14-2, win the Super Bowl, and we all get ice cream sandwiches. But the Rotten Tomatoes method has spoken when it comes to what we can expect …
Payne Schanski, SideLion Report: Predicted record of 6-10. In terms of defying expectations in 2019, it’s the Detroit Lions. vs Everybody, same as usual.