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Detroit Lions 2020 Season in Review

2020 Betting Record

Moneyline: 5-11
Point Spread: 7-9
Total: Over-Under: 10-6

Multiple key personnel changes led to a tumultuous season for the Lions. Detroit fired former head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn after a Thanksgiving day loss to the Texans dropping them to 4-7. Patricia compiled just a 13-29-1 record in two and a half seasons as Lions head coach, after former coach Jim Caldwell led the Lions to two playoff berths in four years.  Darrell Bevell took over on an interim basis from Week 13 on, but the Lions decided to hire former Saints’ assistant Dan Campbell as their new head coach last month. Brad Holmes was hired as the new general manager, ushering in a new era of Detroit football for long-suffering Lions fans.

Detroit Lions 2020 Season in Review
Leon Halip/Getty Images/AFP

Longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford was also traded to Los Angeles in exchange for Jared Goff, two first-round draft picks, and a third-round pick. Moving on from their best QB in franchise history signals the beginning of a serious rebuilding period. In 2020, the Lions had, by some measures, the league’s worst defense, as they allowed the most yards per game and points per game. The Lions hired another former Saints assistant coach, Aaron Glenn, to take over Defensive Coordinator duties.

Quite frankly, the Lions were bad in 2020. The NFL betting odds had them as longshots to win the Super Bowl at +8000, and they underperformed their preseason sportsbook over-under win total of 7.

First Quarter

Moneyline: 1-3

Point Spread: 1-3

Total:  3-1

Things started off well enough for the Lions in their Week 1 matchup with the Bears. Matt Prater hit a 44 yarder late in the third quarter to give the Lions a commanding 23-6 lead. But, the Lions fell apart in the fourth quarter, perhaps a harbinger of things to come. The Lions allowed Mitch Trubisky to complete three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, as the Bears came back from a 17-point deficit to hand the Lions an embarrassing season-opening loss.

In Week 2, the Lions got out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter against an impressive Packers team. That quickly turned south as the Packers outscored the Lions 39-7 in the final three quarters to hand Detroit a 42-21 loss. At this point, it seemed like Matt Patricia would be coaching for his job each and every week for the remainder of the season.

The Lions went into their bye week at 1-3 after a surprising win against the Cardinals in Week 3, but lost to the Saints in Week 4. Overall, it was a poor start from the wildly inconsistent Lions. It was clear that they had problems on the defensive side of the ball after allowing 31.8 points per game in their first four games and blowing a couple of leads.

Grade: C-

Second Quarter

Moneyline: 2-2

Point Spread: 2-2

Total: 2-2

Rookie running back D’Andre Swift emerged as a bright spot on the struggling Lions after an impressive Week 5 performance against the Jaguars. Swift picked up 114 yards on 16 carries combined with two touchdowns in a 34-16 win against lowly Jacksonville. For the first and only time in the 2020 season, the Lions won two games in a row after a last-second Week 7 victory against the Falcons. Stafford completed an 11-yard pass to tight end T.J. Hockenson as time expired to tie the game, ultimately decided by Matt Prater’s subsequent extra point. The Lions allowed just 38 points in Weeks 6 and 7 combined, and it looked like they may have turned a bit of a corner.

The following two games quickly dispelled that notion though. The Lions lost by a combined 34-point margin in Weeks 8 and 9 to the Colts and Vikings, coming into the midway point of the season with just a 3-5 record. Plus, star WR Kenny Golladay left the Colts’ game with a hip injury and didn’t play for the remainder of the season.

Grade: C

Third Quarter

Moneyline: 2-2

Point Spread: 2-2

Total: 3-1

The Lions had four winnable games in the third quarter of the season to potentially get back on track. They stood at 4-5 after a Week 10 win against the Washington Football Team, but things quickly took a turn for the worse. Detroit had an embarrassing offensive performance in Charlotte against Carolina the following week, sorely missing Golladay. The Lions were shut out in a 20-0 defeat, managing just 185 total yards. Veteran running back Adrian Peterson managed just 18 yards on seven carries which was emblematic of a tough season for him.

Detroit had a chance to bounce back at home on Thanksgiving Day against a bad Texans team but suffered another brutal 41-25 loss. Deshaun Watson and the Texans dismantled the Lions, handing them a second blowout in as many weeks. After the game, Patricia and Quinn were dismissed from their respective positions and the Lions played mostly for pride after dropping to 4-7. With somewhat of a weight off of their shoulders, in Darrell Bevell’s first game as interim coach, the Lions managed to stun the struggling Bears, but the winning stopped there.

Grade: D

Fourth Quarter

Moneyline: 0-4

Point Spread: 2-2

Total: Over-Under: 2-2

With four straight games against teams in playoff contention, it was always going to be rough going for a team enduring midseason personnel changes. The Lions kept it close against the 10-2 Packers for the entirety of the game in Week 14 but ultimately fell 31-24. They did, however, cover the spread for a second straight week. The next two weeks, however, they were outscored by a whopping 61-point margin, allowing a total of 93 points. The Lions defensive deficiencies were on full display, and they ended the season with a 37-35 loss against the Vikings to finish 5-11.

Despite the defensive struggles, D’Andre Swift continued to emerge as a legitimate option for the Lions going forward. He scored four touchdowns in the last four games and averaged 4.6 yards per carry on the season. It was bittersweet for Stafford in what many thought would be his final game as a Lion. Nevertheless, he finishes his Lions’ career as the franchise leader in most passing categories. The Lions sorely missed Golladay in the final half of the season. They were 3-1 in games he played the majority of snaps in and 2-10 in all other games.

Grade: C-

Divisional Record: 1-5

Conference Record: 4-8

Full Season Grade: D

Looking Ahead to Next Season

Glaring Needs:

Wide receivers Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola are all free agents. The Lions will need major reinforcements at wideout as a result. The defensive line certainly needs to be overhauled, and the Lions have six picks in this year’s draft to address those needs. It’s possible that the Lions trade down from the seventh pick and prioritize defense.

Obvious Strengths:

Unfortunately, the Lions are a team that needs a major rebuild and don’t excel in any one area. Tight end T.J. Hockenson had a great second year in the NFL. While they have a good offensive line, they could use improvements/reinforcements pretty much everywhere. They project as one of the worst teams in the league in 2021, and it will take time for new QB Jared Goff and the coaching staff to get acclimated.

Predicted Record for 2021 Season: 4-12

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