I do not blame Detroit Lions fans if they are currently unable to stomach any discussion about their team.
As a former Atlanta Falcons fan who had his world turned on its head following 28-3, I understand that feeling more than I care to admit. It led to a meltdown of nuclear proportions and the decision to divorce myself from the cursed Atlanta franchise for the sake of my mental health.
Some will say that I am a terrible fan. They may be right. But I refused to allow my life to be controlled by a football team any longer, at least not the one that had done so for the better part of two decades. To be fair, I realigned myself with the arguably more cursed Buffalo Bills, so my suffering has only continued.
I am not encouraging Lions fans to do the same. They are in an entirely different scenario moving forward than the Falcons were and have suffered far greater pain than any playoff loss, no matter how catastrophic, could ever create.
The beautiful thing about sports fandom is, rain or shine, there is always another season right around the corner. And while Lions fans may not be ready to discuss next season yet, I can't hold off any longer.
Going into this season, expectations were the highest for Detroit than they had been in decades. Those expectations will rightfully seem mild to the hype that will surround the franchise heading into the 2024-25 NFL season. But will it be deserved?
The short answer is yes.
Detroit Lions 2025 Super Bowl Odds
Detroit already captured its first, and potentially most important, win of the 24-25 season this week in a time that it needed it most.
While Dan Campbell is the unquestioned leader of the Detroit Lions, it is no secret that he has benefited from quality coaches on both sides of the ball.
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is arguably the hottest coordinator name since Kyle Shanahan was on the market, leaving the Falcons to take over in San Francisco following the Super Bowl collapse.
The difference between the two is that Johnson announced this week that he will be returning to Detroit for what figures to be one last run before he takes one of the most lucrative head coaching deals in recent memory.
While the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders will be devastated he chose to turn down interviews with their franchises, it is rumored that many teams balked at Johnson's asking price for a head coaching position. My response? Good for him.
As things stand, Johnson is the "Belle of the Ball" for the entire NFL. And unless things completely fall apart in Detroit next season, his legend will only continue to grow. Why leave a great situation for one that is not perfect, especially when your value will (in all likelihood) continue to grow?
It is a decision that could lead to changing tides across the league as far as coordinators are concerned. Having said that, there are only 32 NFL head coaching jobs on the entire planet, and guys work their whole lives to have the opportunity to be the leader of any franchise, regardless of how tumultuous.
What about Detroit convinced Ben Johnson to wait at least one more year for his opportunity?
It all starts with the weapons at his disposal. Detroit has unearthed an embarrassment of riches on the offensive side of the ball that would have any offensive coordinator salivating.
Amon-Ra St. Brown has blossomed into one of the truly elite WR1s in all of football.
Sam Laporta's rookie year all but cemented him as one of the top-five tight ends in the league.
And the two-headed monster of David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs has been so dominant that no one even bats an eye at the fact Detroit spent a top-12 pick on a running back who will only receive, for the foreseeable future, a maximum of 50% of the team's carries.
Each of the four aforementioned guys scored at least ten touchdowns this season, making Detroit the only team in the entire league with four players in the double digits. And while there are certainly those who question whether or not Jared Goff can lead this team to glory, it is evident that Ben Johnson is fully bought in on him.
Goff is not flashy. He is not the dynamic quarterback that teams crave in this day and age. He looked pedestrian at times this season when his offensive line wasn't fully healthy.
Why, then, is one of the league's best offensive minds so confident in Goff?
First of all, he is dependable. Goff has only missed three games in three full seasons with the Lions, all of which came in the first.
Secondly, he has improved tremendously against the blitz. Goff has a reputation for being poor against pressure, but this season's stats paint a much different picture. Goff was blitzed on 255 dropbacks in the regular season, where he threw for 1,885 yards, the most in the league for quarterbacks under pressure. He did throw six interceptions, but it is important to note that five came in games where at least one offensive line starter was out.
Lastly, and most importantly, Jared Goff is good enough to get it done. Following a season that saw him finish second in passing yards, fourth in touchdown passes, and seventh in completion percentage, only a handful of quarterbacks undoubtedly give you a better chance to win next season than Goff, and none of them are in the NFC.
Goff will soon be due for a contract extension, as next season is the last on his current deal. There will be questions about whether or not he is worth what he will command, as well as the concerns that always come with pouring so much of your cap into one player.
Goff's contract negotiations will undoubtedly be on the minds of Lions fans, but I am focused on next season. And unless something catastrophic occurs, he will be their quarterback for at least one more year.
Everyone is familiar with the much-maligned Detroit secondary by this point. And while I do want to get into the struggles the Lions' pass defense faced, I would be remiss not to at least mention their rushing defense. As with anything in the NFL, the bad stats are the ones that draw the most attention from pundits.
There is a reason that Ben Johnson is not the only Lions' coordinator who received interest from teams with head coaching vacancies this offseason. Defensive Coordinator Aaron Glenn may not be as "sexy" a candidate as Johnson, but he has still been considered for multiple openings. Why are teams so high on Glenn, even with his defense's struggles against the pass?
The answer is simple: Detroit was elite against the run this year.
The rush defense Glenn has built in Detroit is good enough to provide a platform to build the rest of the defense around moving forward. One of the most underrated aspects of this surprising Lions' season was the fact that the defense against the run was the second-best in the entire league, allowing only 88.8 yards per game.
Now, you may look at that stat and assume the reason the rush yards directly result from teams targetting the Lions' susceptible secondary. There is some merit to that argument, but when you look at the deeper metrics, the Lions still hold up against the league's top rushing defenses.
Expected Points Added (EPA) is a stat thrown around in NFL circles, but what does it mean? It takes a look at each play on either side of the ball to determine the number of points being added or taken away on a per-down basis.
The Lions ranked third in Defensive Rush EPA at -0.174. This means that every run play opponents attempted against Detroit's defense resulted in a net loss of .174 total points. So for every 20 rushing attempts against its defense, Detroit's opponents' expected total points dropped by 3.48.
But, as we are frequently reminded, the NFL is a passing league. Just as other teams have been interested in bringing Glenn on board to lead their franchises, some Lions fans wouldn't mind seeing him exit because of his struggles against the pass.
Now that the Washington Commanders filled the final head coaching opening of the offseason by hiring Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn, those fans will have to wait.
As we saw with the Philadelphia Eagles. coordinator turnover is a massive detriment to good teams looking to repeat success. Still, Lions fans are not out of line for wanting more from Glenn's secondary.
The secondary gave up the sixth most passing yards per game in the league, which was a huge contributor to the Lions allowing the 10th most points per game. Detroit's Defensive Dropback EPA (points added/taken away per opposing QB dropback) was .08, eighth worst in the NFL this season.
The struggles with opponents' Dropback EPA practically eliminated the defense's success against the run, bringing the Lions' total Defensive EPA down to -.008, ranked 21st in the league this season.
Since 2012, only two teams have made the Super Bowl while ranking 21st or lower in Defensive EPA. The 2016-17 Atlanta Falcons and the 2017-18 New England Patriots both overcame their defensive struggles to reach the Super Bowl, but both fell to opponents with more robust defenses. It is worth noting that both teams were the number one team in Offensive EPA, while the Lions finished this season ranked 6th.
If the trend remains the same, and in the NFL it usually does, either Detroit improves its offense from sixth to the best in the entire league (which is not of the question), or it improves on the defensive side of the ball if it wants to take the next step.
Lions' GM Brad Holmes has done an exceptional job of both drafting and signing the right pieces for Glenn's defense since he took over in 2021. Holmes's list of hits is extensive, including names like Aidan Hutchinson, Alex Anzalone, Malcolm Rodriguez, Kerby Joseph, and Brian Branch.
With Holmes' successful draft record and the fact that Detroit is a more appealing free-agent destination than ever, it is more than fathomable that the Lions could add the necessary pieces to reach new heights defensively, especially with their coordinator returning.
Pair defensive strides with the offense and coaching staff returning largely intact, and Lions' fans may soon forget all about the pain they currently feel.
So, we've talked about the offense, defense, coaches, and general manager. By this point you (hopefully) understand that the Lions are in good shape heading into next season, but what should you do with that information?
Detroit is currently tied for the fifth-best odds for the 2025 Super Bowl at +1200. Of the teams with equal or better odds than the Lions, only one is in the NFC (San Francisco 49ers +550). I am not here to argue Detroit should be ranked above any of the teams in front of it -- I am here to explain the value in a Lions +1200 Super Bowl ticket.
Regardless of whether or not the 49ers are able to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs next week, there is no argument that the AFC is currently a much stronger conference top to bottom than the NFC. Because of that, as we have seen this postseason, there is a much greater chance that several of the league's best teams will cannibalize themselves before even having an opportunity to face whoever makes it out of the NFC.
At the current prices, I don't have the stomach for a future on any of the AFC teams (yes, even the Chiefs) because of the overall quality of the conference. And while the 49ers rightfully earned their place in Super Bowl LVIII, nothing from their NFC Championship victory over Detroit makes me feel comfortable picking them over the Lions, especially at less than half of the value.
As far as the other NFC teams valued near the Lions, I am confident in Detroit's ability to, at the very least, maintain the gap that existed this season. The Philadelphia Eagles are having yet another offseason of coordinator turnover and are facing the retirement of arguably their most important offensive player in Jason Kelce.
Mike McCarthy and Dak Prescott have done nothing to show that they can lead the Dallas Cowboys to postseason success, and are also dealing with the loss of Dan Quinn.
I think the Green Bay Packers are the most likely team valued behind Detroit to lessen the gap next season, but they still have a very young team and a defense in desperate need of revamping. Jordan Love exploded down the stretch this season, but even if he continues on his trajectory, I don't think it will be enough to catch the Lions, at least not next season.
Vegas has already shown that it is impressed with the Lions' offseason moves, moving their odds from +2000 to +1200 since it was confirmed that both Ben Johnson and Aaron Glenn are returning. With that quick of a trigger, Vegas is already giving itself coverage for the Lions next season.
After more additions on the player side, and certainly after a few wins next season, I expect the odds to drop even more drastically.
It would've been nice to catch Detroit at +2000, but I still see significant value at +1200 and don't expect it to be available for long.
Can the Lions (yes, the Detroit Lions) make their first Super Bowl next season? Or better yet, actually win the damn thing?
I, for one, am a believer.
I am taking the Detroit Lions to win the 2025 Super Bowl at +2000.
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