Detroit Lions 2021-2022 Season Preview, Odds and Win Totals

Head Coach Dan Campbell is in his first year of the Detroit Lions' rebuild for 2021.
Head Coach Dan Campbell is in his first year of the Detroit Lions' rebuild for 2021. / Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services,

When you search first year Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell on Google, the No. 3 suggestion to follow his name is "Lions."

"Coffee" and "Kneecaps" are 1 and 2 respectively.

Maybe it's a new tactic that the head coach is using to put the conversation from the media on himself, rather than the roster expected to finish near or at the bottom of the NFC this season. For Lions fans, they're used to it. Their team hasn't finished in first place in the division since 1993, and haven't won a playoff game since 1991.

Campbell will bring a larger-than-life personality as the head man in the Motor City following the Lions' termination last season of both GM Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia. Detroit also parted ways with longtime franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford, sending him to the L.A Rams for former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff and several draft picks. Plus, even with all the changes on offense, the Lions ranked dead last in the NFL in 2020 in points and yards allowed.

Armed with future draft capital and an emphasis on building from the trenches out, the Lions will approach the 2021 season in a way we haven't seen before in quite some time: a concrete plan.

Detroit Lions 2021 Team Outlook

In Goff, the Lions and their new quarterback get a fresh start in Detroit. After taking the Rams to the Super Bowl in his third season in L.A, Goff has regressed heavily over the last two seasons. His touchdowns, yards-per-completion and yardage all went down, as did his confidence. Lions new GM Brad Holmes is a believer in their newly acquired QB, considering he was a part of the Rams front office that selected him No. 1 overall back in 2016. Despite all that, he's 42-27-0 as a starter in his NFL career, and will have a shot at redemption under new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.

Goff's offensive line got an immediate boost with the selection of Penei Sewell in the draft, who's set to start immediately on the right side. Taylor Decker, who was drafted the same season as Goff in the first round, signed a new deal for the Lions after a very solid year protecting Matt Stafford's blind side, and Jonah Jackson, Fraak Ragnow, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai round out the rest of the line from left to right. The Lions begin the 2021 season with the 10th best offensive line rankings according to Pro Football Focus.

Running back is also an area of intrigue as D'Andre Swift enters his second season out of Georgia. Swift had 10 total touchdowns a season ago, and may initially split carries with newly signed Packers running back Jamaal Williams.

At receiver, the Lions are very shallow, as tight end T.J. Hockenson could end up being the team leader in receptions in 2021. Hockenson finished second behind Marvin Jones in both targets (101), receptions (67), and touchdowns (6). He'll likely become the immediate go-to weapon for Goff in the middle of the field.

On the outside, the outlook for 2020 is bleak. Tyrell Williams has a similar skillset as Jones, who left for the Jaguars, but "The Gazelle" hasn't caught more than 43 receptions over the last three seasons, which makes him an unreliable weapon to be a No. 1 receiver. Along with Breshaud Perriman, second-year player Quintez Cephus and 4th round receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, the cupboard is quite bare for Goff.

Defensively, the positive news of finishing dead last a season ago means you can only go up from here. The Lions gave opposing quarterbacks all day to throw in Matt Patricia's defensive scheme, so that's been updated with a new look from new D.C. Aaron Glenn.

They'll line up in a 3-4 scheme with Michael Brockers and Nicholas Williams on the end positions, with Trey Flowers and Romeo Okwara set on the edge. Okwara led the Lions with 10 sacks last year, with Everson Griffen finishing second with just 3.5.

Jamie Collins remains a staple of their interior linebackers core, leading the Lions with 101 combined tackles a season ago. In the secondary, last year's top-3 pick, cornerback Jeffrey Okudah should be fully healed from a core injury that cut his season short. Quinton Dunbar and Corn Elder join the secondary via free agency, and Tracy Walker and Will Harris should start the season as the primary safeties.

Detroit Lions 2021 NFL Draft

With the Bengals taking Ja'Marr Chase at No. 5 overall, that allowed the highly talented Sewell out of Oregon to fall all the way to No. 7 for the Lions as they snagged the top rated offensive lineman on the board. In Rounds 2-3, the Lions loaded up at defensive tackle, going back to the Pac 12 with Washington defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike and then the ACC with NC State's Alim McNeill.

USC's Amon-Ra St. Brown has been a popular sleeper name mentioned in many fantasy football circles this year as the Lions' fourth round pick. With Detroit likely in catch-up mode on offense for most of the season, St. Brown could be a viable candidate to lead the Lions' receivers in targets this season.

Detroit Lions Team Odds: Division (+2250), Conference (+7500), Super Bowl (+15000)

It's safe to say that the oddsmakers at WynnBET Sportsbook are not anticipating any surprises from the Lions in 2021, putting them far behind the rest of the NFC North division at odds of +2250. The Packers remain the favorites in the division with the Vikings and Bears behind them in their respective odds.

Should the Lions somehow make it to the playoffs, an NFC Championship victory would pay out at 75/1 this year, the same odds as a Kansas City Chiefs perfect season. A Super Bowl championship would pay out double that amount, coming in at WynnBET at 150/1 odds.

Detroit Lions Regular Season Win Total: 5.5 WINS | OVER (+145), UNDER (-180)

Ben Heisler: 

Let me try to start off on a positive note by saying that there are a few things I commend the Lions for doing this offseason. Brad Holmes has been a long-time qualified candidate for a GM-role after nearly 20 years with the Rams. Dan Campbell is not everyone's "cup of coffee," but compared to Matt Patricia, any coach with a pulse and something interesting to say will always feel like a massive upgrade.

But it's largely in the personnel that I think the Lions are making improvements. Detroit is building from the inside out, not focusing on quarterback and key weapons around him until the interior line is built. They spent this draft adding impactful players on both sides of the line and that's a foundation for long term success once they find their franchise quarterback. Goff's contract has two more years on it, and he can provide stability in the midst of a rebuild.

The Lions won't be judged this year on record, but more on stability, growth and development. If Campbell can showcase that in his first year, then this is a team on the right track to success. But 5.5 wins even with an extra game added to the schedule seems very unlikely. I'll take them to finish at 4-13 with some silver linings to feel good about despite the likely worst record in the NFC.



Donnavan Smoot:

Poor Detroit. First the city had NBA rookie Jalen Green completely decimate the city’s entire aura and now it will have to sit through another year of terrible football. The Lions lost Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. all in one offseason and all they have to show for it is Jared Goff.

The Lions are officially in a new era with Goff and Dan Campbell taking over the reins. However, it’s going to be a rough start to their tenure in the motor city. The Lions gave up the most points and yards in the NFL in 2020 and are expected to be one of the worst defenses again. Detroit was near the bottom in nearly every category and that’s not where you want to be, especially when your coach was a defensive coordinator in his last job. 

Offensively, the Lions weren’t terrible. They had the 20th ranked scoring offense, but as I mentioned earlier, they lost a majority of their playmaking. Goff didn’t have a great season last year, and will likely get worse without the weapons or the scheme McVay provided him with. 

Detroit is going to struggle and we know that. The main thing to look for is whether they will win the No. 1 overall pick or not. It’s going to be a long season, hopefully the draft will be the light at the end of the tunnel.



Peter Dewey: 

Dan Campbell can yell about how much he wants to win, but the Lions aren’t winning many games with this current roster. 

Not only did Detroit downgrade at quarterback with the Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff trade, but it lost its top receivers in Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones this offseason as well. D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson are going to have a lot on their plate to carry this offense, and Goff doesn’t give me much confidence in the Lions being able to make something out of nothing. 

Amon-Ra St. Brown is an intriguing rookie wideout, but the Lions biggest problems may not even be on offense. Detroit had the league’s worst defense in terms of yardage and points allowed last season, and unless that changes drastically, the Lions are going to be in the basement of the NFC North again in 2021.

Count me out on the Lions going over last season’s win total of five, and I’ll take the -180 juice for them to hit the under.  



Iain MacMillan:

I thought the sport of football had advanced to the point where head coaches who yelled vague motivational messages and who believed that all you have to do is work hard and you can win were a thing of the past, at least at the NFL level.

Dan Campbell can tell his players to bite his opponent's knee caps, and make them do up-downs at practice all he wants, but how is he going to perform when it’s Week 7 and the opposing coach devises a perfect gameplan to shutdown his offensive scheme? No amount of jumping jacks and “hard-nosed football” will save him then.

The Detroit Lions are widely believed to be compete with the Houston Texans for the title of worst team in professional football this year. While I think they’ll be a terrible squad, I don’t think they’ll be quite at the level of the abysmal Texans.

Jared Goff will have a chance of a career resurgence, after looking subpar at best with the Los Angeles Rams the past two seasons.

Where the Lions will need the most help is on defense. They ranked dead last in 2020 in opponent yards per game, allowing an average of 419.8. They made very few moves this offseason to add depth to their defense, so expect another rough outing this year.

The Lions are going to be bad, and there’s not much more to say.



Will the Detroit Lions Make the Playoffs? | MISS THE PLAYOFFS (-1200), MAKE THE PLAYOFFS (+600)

Ben Heisler: 

"Playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs?"

I just hope the Lions can win a game; more specifically four games which is what I projected for the season. The team is in full rebuild mode, slowly trying to bring in core pieces to eventually find a long term franchise quarterback that will get them to the playoffs down the road.

This just won't be the year it happens. To quote ESPN's Fran Fraschilla when discussing Bruno Caboclo at the NBA Draft several years ago, they're "two years away from being two years away."


Donnavan Smoot:

Let’s keep this very simple. Detroit isn’t going to make the playoffs. The Lions will be last in the NFC North and they will be picking at the top of the draft. Dan Campbell can talk about kneecaps all he wants, but it won’t change the fact that he has a bad football team in front of him. 

The Lions are on tank watch and it will be interesting to see how quickly their season gets lost. 


Peter Dewey:  

There isn’t much to say about the Lions’ playoff hopes, as there’s no way they find themselves around .500 this season. 

The NFC North is going to be the Green Bay Packers’ division to lose, and while the Lions could play spoiler and steal a game from someone that they aren’t supposed to, they aren’t going to find themselves in the wild card hunt this season. 


Iain MacMillan:

Even if you think the Detroit Lions won’t be the worst team in the NFC, you have to at least admit they’ll be the worst team in the NFC North. I’m a Chicago Bears truther, and I even think they’ll be a significantly better team than the Lions.

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. Maybe Dan Campbell is more than just a loudmouth with the mentality of a rural high school football coach from the ‘80s. Maybe Jared Goff will show everyone that he’s a top quarterback in the NFL. Maybe all of that will be true, but I certainly won’t be betting on it.



Every day from the start of NFL Training Camp, the BetSided team of Ben Heisler, Donnavan Smoot, Peter Dewey and Iain MacMillan are breaking down the win totals, playoff and Super Bowl odds for every team in the NFL.

Check back Wednesday at 1 p.m. EDT when we preview the betting outlook for the Baltimore Ravens and check out our earlier team-by-team betting previews.


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