Betting over/under proposition bets, part 3: Detroit Lions, 5 wins

Thursday, 03 June 2021 19:47 EST

With the no. 3 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected All-American left tackle Joe Thomas out of Wisconsin. Thomas was thought of as a “generational player” (though the term itself was far from the vogue expression it is today) and sure enough, he was.

Immediately put into the starting lineup for Opening Day ’07, Thomas went on to start 187 consecutive games at the position and play over 10,300 consecutive snaps for the Browns, a streak stopped only by a triceps injury which ultimately led to his retirement after the ’17 season. His accolades included his naming to 10 Pro Bowls, six All-Pro teams, the NFL’s All-2010s team and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Thomas also appeared in exactly zero playoff games, having spent his entire career amid the Browns’ 17-year postseason drought. His résumé demonstrates that his pass protection was immaculate for 10 years, yet Hall of Fame skill apparently means little when the protectee is along the lines of Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer, etc. etc.

Betting Detroit Lions under 5 wins since 1957...So what does this have to do with the line

Detroit Lions over/under 5 wins (-130/+110)

?

Let’s put it this way: Penei Sewell, meet Joe Thomas.

Sewell, taken at no. 7 overall by the Lions, is a monster of a man who, judging by the hype, is deemed the surest thing at left tackle since at least Jeremy Tunsil – if not Thomas himself. An all-time type of individual career may await Sewell but in the immediate-term future, well…

The firing of head coach Matt Patricia (and whoa, did that dude go down in flames like few before) has got to be considered an improvement, though the Lions managed to re-sign just nine of a possible 29 free agents in the offseason regardless. Notable pickups included DL Michael Brockers coming over in the Matthew Stafford trade and (maybe) WRs Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman. All in all, not exactly a plethora of plusses amassed there.

New head coach Dan Campbell’s professional coaching career consists mainly of serving as tight ends coach for the New Orleans Saints for the past five seasons; NFLbets isn’t sure why they didn’t go with Anthony Lynn, a reasonably successful HC with the “Los Angeles” Chargers the past four seasons, but these are the Lions and Lynn will serve as OC. One might consider Lynn a job vulture, expecting him to slowly metaphorically circle Campbell as the Lions head to another sub-.400 season, but in Detroit even the excoriated get three seasons on the sidelines.

And then there’s Jared Goff. The Detroit brain trust loosed themselves of easily the greatest Lions QB ever and who at 32 years old again went for 4,000+ passing yards – and without a top-20 wide receiver for Goff. The optimistic Lions fan (if the subspecies hasn’t become extinct by now) hopes that Goff merely needs a fresh start to resurrect a career that appeared so promising back in November 2018 when leading his Los Angeles Rams to a 54-51 MNF win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Since that game, Goff’s numbers – excepting attempts; more on this momentarily – have been in steady decline. In the 39 games since the out-of-control Monday night, Goff has managed one fourth-quarter comeback win against five such wins prior. And in the intervening period, he’s shed an average of 45 yards per game and 1.2 yards per attempt. Goff was 26 when the 2020 season ended; he’s 4-8 years ahead of the curve in terms of average decline.

Another scary truth for Detroit is that Goff will likely have less to work with than in Los Angeles. One can place quite a bit of blame for the Rams’ downturn of the past two seasons on the disappearance of a once-fearsome running game fairly enough – but the situation in Detroit is likely worse. The Lions have consistently produced a bottom-5 run game since Barry Sanders was romping; Adrian Peterson joined the team for 2020, got just over 600 yards and the Lions finished 30th in rushing yardage. If Goff goes anywhere near his league-leading 626 pass attempts of 2019, figure the Lions to a bottom-8 NFL team.

Considering the 2021 Detroit Lions schedule

Looking at the Lions schedule for 2021, NFLbets is having real trouble conjuring up more than five wins. Let’s say the Green Bay Packers don’t manage to work out the Aaron Rodgers situation and are forced to run with some ungodly combination of Jordan Love plus Blake Bortles; say it’s business as usual in Chicago and the Bears have no offense for the nth time; and say the Vikings Viking. So say the Lions break even and go 3-3 in inter-division games.

(Interesting note: Detroit plays at Green Bay in week 2, at Chicago in week 4 and at Minnesota in week 5, meaning the interdivisional teams get an indoor game late in the season. Talk about your homefield non-advantage…)

Prior to the bye in week 9, the Lions get three games against prospective playoff contenders (vs San Francisco in week 1, vs Baltimore in week 3, at the Rams in week 7) and two against teams not expected to contend (vs Cincinnati in week 6, vs Philadelphia in week 8). NFLbets admittedly likes the Bengals’ chances in ’21 more than many, but if you believe Detroit can take both these games, you’ll be playing the under on this proposition bet anyway. So we’ll say the Lions go 1-4 in the first-half non-divisional games.

Detroit comes out of the bye to play at Pittsburgh and at Cleveland, followed by home games against Chicago (on Thanksgiving Day) and Minnesota, followed by a possible gauntlet of tough venues and/or desperate teams: at Denver, vs Arizona, at Atlanta, at Seattle and vs Green Bay. NFLbets is thinking the date at Pittsburgh reeks of upset (Goff is 4-1 SU/ATS lifetime out of the bye) but wouldn’t necessarily endorse that bet. But surely the Lions can pull off at least one non-divisional win in the second half of the season…?

No, they can’t. And don’t call me Shirley. Take under 5 wins for the Detroit Lions.

– written by Os Davis