Four years ago, the Lions were the laughingstock of the NFL;
the first 0-16 team in league history.
Obviously, things could only improve once the Ford family took the keys
out of bottom tier GM Matt Millen’s hands.
After more than a decade of futility, Detroit made the leap from a 2-14
bottom feeder in 2009 to an improving 6-10 team in 2010, to a 10-6 playoff team
Despite their leap up in the standings, the Lions were not
money winners for their supporters in 2011, finishing with a modest 7-7-2 ATS
mark. Detroit showed guts and moxie,
rallying back from double digit deficits on the road against the Raiders, Cowboys
and Vikings. But they did not play their
best football down the stretch, just 5-6 SU after their 5-0 start, before
getting blown out by the Saints in their playoff game (3-8-1 ATS in their last
The Lions faced a harder than average schedule in 2011, but
still outgained their opponents by 0.4 yards per play. They finished +11 in turnovers.
Detroit will enjoy great continuity, with head coach Jim
Schwartz, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Gunther
Cunningham all returning, as well as the vast majority of assistants. QB
Matthew Stafford joined Dan Marino, Tom Brady and
Drew Brees as the only QB’s in NFL history to throw for more than 5000 yards
last year, and Calvin Johnson remains the single most dangerous pass catching
weapon in all of football.
But Detroit couldn’t run the ball
at all in 2011. They had a subpar
offensive line, leaving Stafford in danger of getting hurt, as he did in both
2009 and 2010. For the Lions to repeat
their success from last year, offensive balance would certainly help!
The Lions defense was a sieve last
year, both against the run and against the pass – a bottom tier unit. Their defensive front four remains capable of
wreaking havoc in opposing backfields. But
the back seven has numerous holes thanks to offseason salary cap limitations,
most notably in a secondary that got torched against every good passing offense
they faced in 2011.
Wiseguy money poured in against the Lions all summer,
despite the fact that their schedule is quite a bit easier than last year’s
slate. Two months ago, you could have bet the Lions Under 9.5 wins at modest
juice. Last month, you could have bet
the Lions Under 9.5 wins at heavy juice.
Right now, you can only bet the Lions Under 9.5 wins with exorbitant
vig, with O/U 9 the current prevailing number.
Ted Sevransky has been a Las Vegas-based pro capper at Covers Experts for over 10 years. He can been heard on ESPN, Fox Sports and more.