Detroit Lions: Reconciling Media Praise With Vegas Reality

Are you buying the surprising media hype or lowballing the Lions win total like Vegas?

Detroit Lions: Reconciling Media Praise With Vegas Reality
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Detroit Lions Are Trendy

Paul Rochon: This is just a small sample, but this really has been universal. This off-season has been this acclaim for the Detroit Lions. It’s been not necessarily, no, nobody thinks the lines are super bowl contenders, but everyone is talking about this team as a team that should flirt with 500, if not be a fringe playoff team. 

And that’s wow. Then you look at Vegas and they’re at six and a half wins. Generally with Vegas, especially in win totals, you air toward the middle, right? It’s hard to win less than four games in a season, just as an example. 

So if you’re going to the really bad teams there, when totals get pushed toward the middle, same with the really good teams. You’re not going to see many win totals with 13 games. So realistically Vegas thinks the Lions are a 5 or 6 win team this year. 

And yet the media thinks that they’re like a 7, 8, 9, 10, win team this year. I would say like 8 and 9 is the median would be my guess. Maybe 9 and 8. People think the Detroit Lions are going to make this huge jump.

A.J. did enough change for us to make this large of a jump? Or are you looking in? Listen, Vegas knows all right. They absolutely know. Forget the media. 

A.J. Reilly: See, to go back to your original point, I don’t know how to feel about this because I’m thinking that either hell has frozen over and the world has flipped upside down or I’m in some kind of Twilight Zone where reality as I know it, no longer exists.

Because I cannot for the life of me remember a time, in my years of existence, and I will not say how many years, the Lions being spoken of favorably. And it’s not like they’re being spoken of in a way that’s like, this is the team to put your money on to win the Superbowl, because that would be a losing proposition.

But when you’re talking about words like a surprising, sleeper, national media pundits, drinking the Honolulu blue Kool-Aid, using our own terms. That’s a big deal. And it’s crazy, it almost feels uncomfortable in a way, because if those expectations aren’t met, then it’s the same old Detroit Lions. Then it’s it is what it is. It’s just Detroit, we didn’t really expect them to do well. 

You asked if I think enough has changed. I can’t answer that yet. The reason why I can’t answer that yet is because everything about 2022 is speculation. And I understand that’s a cop-out answer, but I will say the one thing that I’m grateful hasn’t changed and I think will make a difference is Dan Campbell

I will root for him and continue to root for him. I expect him to get better as a head coach and a game manager and things of that nature. And I expect his team to be at minimum 6 and a half wins. And I’ve told you that. 

I said that on our last show, I had him at 8 wins, maybe plus or minus one. Just because I like what they’ve done. Again, going back to our draft talk, not necessarily thrilled with every move that they’ve made, but it seems like the right pieces are being put in place now. 

Will they continue to put those right pieces in place or will they continue to hold onto older pieces? A la number 16. That will make the difference of whether the conversations continue to be favorable towards the Detroit Lions in years to come or not? Do you think enough has changed? 

Paul Rochon: We just did our win totals last week and I had the Detroit Lions at 6 and 11. So obviously I am sitting much closer to Vegas than I am the media. This is not a win total that I would bet. If fans were going to bet it they’re clearly going to pound the over. We have seen the pulse of the fans and the pulse of the people. 

They absolutely think this team is going to be over the 6 win threshold. I have not talked to many people outside of our little group that actually thinks the Lions are going to win by less than 6 games or even 6 games. 

Most people think they’re going to be over that mark, which I think is being optimistic. There’s nothing wrong with it, especially as fans to be optimistic. This is a team you root for. If you go into every season, think you’re going to win 4 or 5 games, that’s a miserable experience, even if you’re right.

And listen, I know being a Detroit Lions fan has at times been a very miserable experience. But I don’t blame the people that have a little bit of optimism, hope springs eternal for a reason. But you said it’s a cop-out because you said I don’t know yet. It’s hard to see. There are so many changes and so many moving parts.

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This team is young and I don’t think that’s a cop-out at all because we’re not in the business, especially on this show, Beyond the Box of just making hot takes and judging things on very limited sample sizes or giant projections. Because this team theoretically should have a pretty wide range of outcomes.

Just based on the unknowns. It reminds me of last year’s college football season with the in-state programs, both Michigan and Michigan State, that there was so much new for both teams. You really didn’t know how they were going to be, it’s an expectation. But there were so many moving parts, especially coming off the COVID season that you’re like, I don’t know what’s going to happen.

That’s how I feel about this season to an extent. But at the same time, I look at, we still have Dan Campbell who should grow a little bit. He was a rookie head coach last year. But Dan Campbell and now our tight ends coach, who’s been elevated. They’re going to call the plays together.

Well, I wasn’t impressed with the play calling last year. And we didn’t bring in a new play-caller, so I don’t think that’s changing in a positive way. That’s still a concern. We know how we feel about Jared Goff and that’s one, one place where I think we’re in lockstep with most fans, there is a section of fans out there, the extra optimistic ones.

They look at the end of the season. They look at, oh, Jared Goff went to a super bowl. There’s a small, but somewhat vocal section of fans that actually think Jared Goff can be an above-average quarterback in the NFL. Which I think is a starter. And I think that’s just bizarre. That’s crazy. 

Jared Goff has not changed. We still have the same guy under center. He is not very good. He’s not going to elevate this team. What can change? The offensive line can stay healthy and actually be a strength of this team. We did add Jameson Williams and while I didn’t like the pick and we also added DJ Chark in for agency.

I didn’t like the pick and why? I don’t think receivers are the most impactful position in the NFL. We had a pretty bad receiving unit last year. This is not great. And he’s going to catch passes. As soon as he gets healthy, which could be at the earlier end of the season, we really don’t know more of the unknown that you talked about, but when he gets healthier, he is going to be good.

I told you, I think by the end of the season, he should have sent to the number one receiver in this pass-catching group. TJ Hockenson is a piece that, of course, I liked very much. So you combine that with the old line, D’Andre Swift continued to improve, right? He’s a solid running back. You would think that we had a first-time play-caller last year in Dan Campbell.

There wasn’t a plan. He took over play-calling duties halfway through the season say. He should grow into that role. They should be able to install more of the offense that he wants to see. Having more playmakers on offense should help them give more of a diverse offense. 

Having that healthier offensive line should let them dial-up more downfield passes and more play-action you hope. But, this is a lot of hope and things have to improve. But then you look at the defensive side. Bottom of the league in sacks, pretty much the bottom of the league in pressure rate, if we weren’t actually bottom of the league. 

Worst by a wide margin in third-down defense getting off the field, the defense was horrible. Look at games like the Ravens, where we were positioned to win the game. But was it fourth and 20? Was it fourth and 20? We got, at least a sack may be consecutive sacks.

We had them in fourth and 20 and our defense didn’t get off the field. They just didn’t get off the field and they gave up a bomb. The only thing that could get the Ravens close enough to even think about kicking a field goal. And then they hit the biggest, longest walk-off field goal ever in NFL history because they got Justin Tucker. How much should our defense improve this off-season? 

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