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NFL Sneak Peak – The Detroit Lions

NFL Football Futures Betting – 2009 NFL PreSeason Analysis – Lions Football Gambling

I’m not sure how much can really be said about the Detroit Lions’ 2008 season except that they lost every game and were near the bottom of the NFL in almost every meaningful category.

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Where does an organization go when it was 0-16 (7-9 ATS) the year before?

Is there any hope that Lions fans will have smiles on their faces this season?

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Odds To Win NFC North

Minnesota Vikings +160
Chicago Bears +180
Green Bay Packers +200

To Win Super Bowl: +15000
To Win NFC title: +8000
To Reach Conference title game: +4000
Over 4.5 wins -125
Under 4.5 wins -105

Okay, let’s start at the awful beginning. The Lions were 30th in the league in rushing yards, 24th in passing yards, 30th in first downs, 31st in third-down efficiency, 31st in time of possession, 27th in points scored, 32nd in total defense, 32nd in rushing defense, 32nd in yardage allowed per pass, 32nd in interceptions, 32nd in first downs allowed, 29th in third down defense and 32nd in points allowed.

So you see, it’s not quite as simple as drafting a rookie underclassman at quarterback with the first overall draft pick.

Naturally, the team fired coach Rod Marinelli, and finally they fired Matt Millen, who headed up the football operation. Into the head coaching spot steps Jim Schwartz, the former defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. There may have been better candidates interviewed that did not want to come near the job, but we’re not going to hear that from the Detroit organization.

The defense was not only last in the league, it allowed more points (517) than any other team in history. Gunther Cunningham, long respected as a defensive coordinator and formerly head coach in Kansas City, will handle the defense for Schwartz. He’s got this team out of the Tampa 2 and into more man coverage, and after intercepting just one pass, they intend to get more aggressive with Phillip Buchanon and Anthony Henry brought in to start at cornerback, and second-round draft pick Louis Delmas (Western Michigan) given every opportunity to snag the free safety spot.

There were other upgrades on the defensive unit. Grady Jackson, who played with Atlanta last year and signed a free agent deal, will probably man one of the defensive tackle slots, and fourth-round small college draftee Sammie Lee Hill is being looked upon as someone who can help both now and in the future. The major acquisition on defense is five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson (trade from Seattle), who will play one of the outside spots, next to Larry Foote, who came over from the Steelers.sportsbook genericsports 250x250 mybanner Lions NFL Betting Preview

Matthew Stafford was the draft’s #1 pick, and obviously he is considered the future of the franchise, but it is likely that he’ll be brought along slowly, which means that Daunte Culpepper, who claimed he showed up in his best shape ever to the mini-camp, would start the season at quarterback. Culpepper, who was signed off the street by Detroit last year, threw for 786 yards and four TD’s, with six interceptions, but there could be a new beginning for him, inasmuch as he is being reunited with Scott Linehan, fired as Rams’ head coach last year, who was Culpepper’s offensive coordinator in Minnesota in 2004 when he threw for 4717 yards.

There are wide receivers who can make this work. Calvin Johnson is one of the best in the business, and he came through big last year, gaining 1331 yards, nailing 21 plays of twenty or more yards, and scoring 12 times. To complement him, the Lions have brought in Bryant Johnson, who was with the 49ers last year and also served as the third wide receiver for Arizona, and they made two bold draft choices, taking solid, speedy wideout Derrick Williams out of Penn State and tight end Brandon Pettigrew from Oklahoma State, a tremendous player who should be an instant hit in Motown.

I like Kevin Smith, who gained 2567 yards in his last season at Central Florida and showed some flashes that he could be a legitimate go-to back in the process of notching 976 yards. The Lions may create a “two-headed” situation with him and Maurice Morris (a free agent from Seattle), because they would like to pound the ball a lot more. Terelle Smith, who is regarded as a solid fullback, came over from the Cardinals to blast some holes.

When you leave it up to Jason Hanson, you’ve got the kicking situation in pretty good hands. Hanson, who holds the NFL record for most field goals from 50-plus yards, was 21 of 22 last year, including a perfect eight-for-eight from beyond 50. Aaron Brown, a draftee out of TCU, could add some life to the return game, as could the aforementioned Derrick Williams and Phillip Buchanon.

I like the new infusion of talent in Detroit, and see this team taking on a bit of a different character. The big variable is whether they will throw Stafford into the fray at some point early or midway through the year. The guess, though, is that if Culpepper is playing reasonably well, and this team is respectable, that will wait or be done at a very opportune time. I’ll go with the Lions to finish with more than 4.5 wins, and that is priced at -125 in the BetUS NFL football futures betting odds.

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  1. The Lions will be a better team in 2009 simply because they have to be, as they can’t get any worse. Looking at their schedule I see them winning 4 to 5 games which is right on the mark with their current odds.

  2. Matt Martz says:

    The Detroit Lions were glad to see the 2008 season come to an end as they finished 0-16, the worst season of any team in NFL history. As a result the Lions ended up with the #1 pick in this years draft and snagged QB Matthew Stafford. Have the Lions landed their franchise quarterback? We will have to wait a few years to see. One improvement in 2009 will be the Lions defense. With the additions of free agents, DT Grady Jackson, DT Chuck Darby, LB Julian Peterson, and LB Larry Foote, who makes his way over from the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Lions defense should be much better this season. Detroit and will go 4-12, but anything will be an improvement over last year’s debacle.