Top Signs the Detroit Lions’ Comeback is Real

A few years ago, the Detroit Lions looked like they were at the beginning of an insurmountable challenge. Some publications called the team’s outlook a rebuild, an overhaul, or a restructure. Though these things are a cyclical part of any NFL franchise’s life, it was uncertain what the future would hold for the Lions and, in general, football in Detroit.

Despite raised brows from many, the Lions now seem to have found their stride under a head coach-GM system run by Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes. Early on in the 2022-23 season, the Lions started with a 1-6 record. It was yet another reminder that the good times hadn’t yet touched down in Detroit.

But a late-season comeback story saw the Lions end their season with a 9-8 record. It wasn’t enough to push them into the playoffs or help them nab the wildcard berth, but it improved on their 3-13-1 record from 2021-22. Though the going has been slow and incremental, the Lions are on the up and up. 

Already, sportsbooks are watching the team with a bit more optimism. At the moment, free bet offers from FanDuel let bettors wager on multiple futures markets. In the NFL, analysts are listing the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and Philadelphia Eagles as next season’s favorites—but the Lions are listed just behind the favorites with odds of +2500, ahead of the Los Angeles Rams and the Green Bay Packers. 

While it’s still too soon to hope for an underdog win at next year’s Super Bowl, there are key signs that it’s not totally out of the question as the Lions continue their rebuild. Here’s why.

Ben Johnson is Back

Only weeks ago, Ben Johnson looked like a shoo-in for the position of head coach with the Carolina Panthers. But, to the shock of many, Johnson didn’t take the job in North Carolina. Instead, he opted to stay on for another season with the Lions as offensive coordinator—and it’s clear he’s fully motivated to make good on that decision.

By the end of last season, the Lions had turned into an offensive machine. They won eight of their last ten games and were a single tie away from becoming the second team in the NFL to advance to the playoffs despite starting their season with a 1-6 record. It didn’t happen, but Johnson’s decision to stay on is a key sign that it will.

2022 Saw Huge Improvements

The front office in Detroit is looking tight, but the team also has a series of player improvements from 2022 to look toward next year. First, there’s Jamaal Williams. Easily one of the Lions’ most improved players and the first to rush for 1,000 yards on the team since 2013, Williams is part of the Lions’ multifaceted offensive rebuild. Kalif Raymond, wide receiver, also put in quality work for the team. He played in all 17 games—and he emerged from the season a different player for it.  

A Top-Five Offense & Notable Offseason Assets

Let’s revisit the Lions’ offense during the latter half of the season. It can’t be understated how meteoric the team’s rise was—especially considering the slow start. By the time the season closed out, the Lions were considered by many to be the fourth or fifth-best team in the NFC. Their offense was rated in the top five of the NFL, and, most importantly of all, the Lions are now ranked fourth in the league in terms of their offseason assets.

2023 Draft Capital

Heading toward the 2023 NFL Draft, the Lions are in a great position to add to their roster—and that’s clearly been the goal. Holmes has targeted talented players who fit in with the Lions’ culture and offer multiple (sometimes hard to quantify) assets to the team. Though Holmes has been vocal about not stamping his rebuild with a timeline, it’s clear that the 2023 Draft will offer a huge coup for the team.

Written by George Blouth

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