2021 NFC North preview: How do the Detroit Lions stack up?

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell (Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell (Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press) /
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Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Detroit Lions outlook

The Detroit Lions need more things to go right than any other team in the division to contend. That is true mostly due to the regime change, less talent overall, and roster reconfiguration that has happened with the new offensive and defensive philosophies. Solid play from both lines could be an advantage in a division filled with uncertainties in the trenches, though.

That being said, most teams have the advantage of coaching continuity and established player leadership that the Lions do not enjoy as much of. The whole division has tough matchups with AFC North and NFC West teams, which should lower the number of wins needed to win the North.

We think the Detroit Lions are on the outside looking in but have a chance to be the division wildcard if they can pull together early. Jared Goff has to be efficient, the run game has to work, and the passing game has to move the sticks enough to keep the defense rested some.

Defensively, they have to generate some pressure with Brockers, Flowers, Okwara, and rookies like Onwuzurike to not hang the secondary out to dry. In other words, we need complementary football from 53 men for 60 minutes every week to have a shot at contending for the division. It wouldn’t hurt for a couple of teams to have the seeds of discontent bloom into locker room drama, either.

We see a more optimistic 2022 but perhaps a 5-8 win season coming our way. It’s difficult to imagine going above .500 in the first year of this change, needing upgrades almost everywhere, with a tough schedule, but we expect to surprise people with how hard they have to play to beat us, too.

The Green Bay Packers will probably win the division assuming Rodgers comes back, we believe the Minnesota Vikings will storm back into second, while the Chicago Bears stay pretty even figuring out their quarterback situation, and for the Lions to hold onto last place with the final records being closer than the eight-game difference from ’20.