Ladies and gentlemen, please direct your attention to the hottest sleeper team in the nation, your very own … Detroit Lions?
Yep, that’s right. Despite four consecutive last-place finishes in the NFC North and a combined record of 17-46-2 over that quartet of years, the Lions are starting to catch the attention of some well-respected NFL watchers. It may have started in earnest on May 16, when Mina Kimes tweeted, “God help me, I’m drinking the Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid,” on an episode of ESPN’s NFL Live.
“The Lions have an excellent offensive line, a super-solid running back, a group of pass catchers that’s not only incredibly talented but I think has diverse and complementary skills,” Kimes said.
God help me I’m drinking the Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid pic.twitter.com/nkNpMLZ1F2
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) May 16, 2022
The conversation was centered on who the Lions might go after in the quarterback market next year, and Kimes is worried the Lions might do so well this year, they’ll knock themselves out of contention for a top pick in what is shaping up to be a quarterback-heavy draft class.
While Kimes was bullish on the Lions, Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis was positively full steam ahead when discussing the team on a recent edition of the Bill Simmons Podcast.
“We know I really like their rest advantage, and they have the fifth easiest schedule based upon who they play this season,” Sharp said, noting that the Lions’ schedule is super-friendly, with only one Thursday game (Thanksgiving) and no travel west of Texas. “And so they’re a team — look, I think with the Lions, you want to swing big with these guys. Either you don’t want to back them, or you back them to have a really turnaround season.”
Could the Detroit Lions be a sleeper team to win their division?@BillSimmons and @SharpFootball examine their schedule and what they could do to win their division: pic.twitter.com/m7aZY7p4Bb
— The Ringer (@ringer) May 22, 2022
Sharp also noted the Lions’ strength on the offensive line, and said the Green Bay Packers — less Davante Adams, who now hangs his helmet in Vegas — are not the juggernaut they have been in recent years.
Even Peter King has taken note, placing the Lions 20th in his preseason power rankings.
“I did some reporting on the Lions in Detroit this month, and I’m higher on them than most,” King wrote for Pro Football Talk. “Consider how hard they played in a disastrous rookie year of coach Dan Campbell, and how, despite winning only three games, they were 11-6 against the spread, indicative of a team outperforming expectations. Consider a schedule that includes eight games against the NFL’s netherworld (Giants, Jets, Carolina, Jacksonville, Washington, Seattle, Chicago, Chicago). Consider a team that entered December winless and finished 3-3, though the last one was against the Pack playing out the string. This is one of the most interesting teams in football and, their starved fans hope, for the right reasons.”
Sportsbooks are lagging
So with all this steam building, has the Lions’ sports betting ship sailed? Is it too late to stow away?
Nope. Plenty of room aboard the ship, as it turns out.
To win the NFC North, odds are as high as +1200 at Caesars and PointsBet. To make the playoffs, Detroit is as high as +485 at BetRivers. To win the NFC, the Lions are +7000 at PointsBet. And to go all the way and raise the Lombardi trophy? Try odds as high as +15000 on BetMGM.
And if you’re looking for something a bit more vanilla, the team’s win total is set at 6.5 at DraftKings, with -120 on the over. At FanDuel, you can bet the Lions to win 10+ games at +420.
Finally, looking ahead to week one of the season, the Lions are 4.5-point home underdogs to the Philadelphia Eagles at -110 on FanDuel, and +172 on the moneyline.
Photo: Raj Mehta/USA TODAY