The Detroit Lions were one of pro football’s best success stories in 2011 and then one of the NFL’s foremost disappointments in 2012. What will the 2013 NFL betting season bring for this franchise?
Best Offseason Move:
The Lions’ signing of running back Reggie Bush was one of the best moves of the offseason for any NFL team. This is a perfect fit between player and organization, the right match of a position player and an offense’s larger needs. The Lions can throw the ball vertically, with quarterback Matthew Stafford flinging the ball down the field to receiver Calvin Johnson and – when needed – to other targets such as tight end Brandon Pettigrew and receiver Nate Burleson. Johnson and Pettigrew both dropped large numbers of passes in 2012, contributing to the Lions’ problems, but they are both immensely gifted and did not have a problem getting open. The point remains that Detroit is a formidable vertical-passing team. What the Lions needed was a change of pace player, and Bush is exactly that. No, he’s not the best between-the-tackles runner. His body isn’t powerful enough and his style isn’t rugged enough to be a 35-carry-per-game workhorse. However, Bush fits the mold of a Marshall Faulk kind of running back, one who can get 15 carries as a setback but then become a devastating receiver in his own right. With Johnson and Pettigrew clearing out space on downfield routes, Bush can be a check-down back for Stafford, and he can also be a factor on delay patterns or wheel routes along the sideline. Bush gives Detroit a chance to substantially expand and diversify its offensive playbook, increasing the Lions’ options on a number of fronts. This is a pickup that enables Detroit to become a much better team, chiefly because Stafford won’t always have to look – or throw – way down the field. He now has a safety valve in the flat. Stafford gets hit way too much; Bush can be the man who enables Stafford to preserve his body for the next several seasons.
Worst Offseason Move:
The Lions have needs at defensive end, but those needs pale in comparison to the team’s linebackers and safeties, which were poor even in the playoff season of 2011. The Lions have had problems tackling, and that’s primarily a linebacker issue, secondarily an indictment of the team’s safeties. Detroit needed to think of its back seven when beefing up its defense, but with its first pick, the organization opted for defensive end Ezekiel Ansah of Brigham Young University. Ansah has the makings of a good player, and there’s merit to the notion that one should draft the best athlete available. However, Detroit had the fifth pick in the draft, and that’s a spot in which a team should generally try to meet a need. The Lions might get production out of Ansah – they probably will – but they needed production more at linebacker and safety than at defensive end, and that could prove costly.
How They’ll Finish In The Division:
The Lions won’t be 4-12 as they were last season. Football betting fans know that there’s too much talent in the stable for that to happen. However, this team was so deficient in its response to 2011’s prosperity that one can’t rely on this team to deliver the goods in 2013. The Lions can’t be expected to make the playoffs; they can only be expected to improve. A break-even record sounds just about right… and that will likely get coach Jim Schwartz fired.
Super Bowl Odds: +2650