The Detroit Lions will have to get over this first obstacle before having a better 2020 season
The first obstacle for the Detroit Lions to overcome in an attempt to bounce back following two down seasons under head coach Matt Patricia is their own division. The NFC North is one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL and has been a continuous stumbling block for the Lions.
And last season was no different. Every team in the NFC North division posted a record of 8-8 or better in 2019 except for Detroit. As the divisional champions, the Green Bay Packers recorded an impressive 13-3 last season, which was tied for the best record in the NFC.
The Minnesota Vikings weren’t far behind with a 10-6 record. And the Chicago Bears, after winning the NFC North in 2018 with a 12-4 record, posted an 8-8 record last season.
As for the Lions, they finished last year with a disappointing 3-12-1. And despite not posting a loss in their first three games of 2019, Detroit went 0-6 against their divisional rivals.
Here’s what John Breech of CBS Sports wrote about Detroit after ranking the NFC North third overall in his 2020 NFL Divisional Power Rankings.
"” … this is the only division in the NFL that has produced three different winners over the past three seasons. Also, the NFC North is one of just just two divisions that has sent all four of its teams to the playoffs over the past four years.”"
The Lions do have a few things working in their favor in the NFC North. As Breech mentioned, this division has been highly competitive over the past three years with the Vikings winning the crown in 2017, the Bears the year after, and the Packers last season.
Also seemingly aiding Detroit is the fact they added several key pieces in the offseason. With their first two high draft picks, the Lions landed cornerback Jeff Okudah and running back D’Andre Swift. Both figure to play significant roles as rookies, with Okudah presumably sliding in the starting spot left vacant following the offseason trade of three-time Pro Bowl corner, Darius Slay.
The Lions also added some key free agents like cornerback Desmond Trufant, linebacker Jamie Collins, and offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. All of whom also figure to start in their first season in Motown. Detroit also traded for safety Duron Harmon, who figures to add some much need experience to the secondary as he played in Patricia’s multiple defense during their time together in New England.
Throw in a new defensive coordinator in Cory Undlin and the fact it will be the second year under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s system in the Motor City, and the Detroit Lions appear to be primed for a bounce-back season in 2020. But first, they’ll need to prove themselves against their NFC North rivals as Detroit will face the Chicago Bears in Week One and the Green Bay Packers the week after.