A lot of things are happening for the first time in a long time for the Detroit Lions in 2022. Will the trend continue now that the team is proving to be a more profitable team for NFL bettors?
The Lions have covered the spread in each of their last four games. Coach Dan Campbell’s team is now tied for fourth in the NFL in ATS record at 7-4. Last Thursday, in the annual Thanksgiving Day game, Detroit lost by three points to the Bills. Entering the game, the Lions were 8.5-point underdogs against what many experts believe is the best team in pro football. Detroit lost on a late field goal, 28-25.
The Lions are 4-7 straight-up on the season, having already exceeded last season’s win total of three. Even though the team is unlikely to make the playoffs (+4000 odds to win the NFC North, according to BetMGM Michigan), NFL bettors are most interested in whether the pesky Lions can keep beating the spread.
Last season, Detroit was also successful ATS, posting an 11-6 record, which ranked third in the NFL behind the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. For Sunday’s game against Jacksonville, Detroit is listed at +1 by DraftKings Michigan, as of Wednesday morning.
Lions ATS Record Improving by the Week
A gutsy performance against the Bills has vaulted Detroit into a new category for many NFL observers and the oddsmakers at Michigan’s online sportsbooks. With four wins already and five losses by four points or less, the Lions are no longer a laughingstock. Teams cannot just overlook this team, which gained a lot of interest following a preseason appearance on HBO’s NFL reality series, Hard Knocks. The Campbell-infused intensity and obvious team camaraderie displayed on HBO has spilled into the regular season, where the Lions have shown stretches of competitiveness unseen in the Motor City in years.
On the heels of the heartbreaking Turkey Day defeat to the Bills, the Lions find themselves as 1.5-point favorites at home against Jacksonville. The point spread has since flipped in favor of Jacksonville, but it could flip again before kickoff. If it does, it would mark the second time Detroit has been listed as a favorite this season.
The other time Detroit was favored this season came in Week 4, following three consecutive covers to begin the schedule. As 3.5-point favorites at home on Oct. 2, the Lions lost outright to Seattle, 48-45.
That was when the Detroit offense was making history and leading the league in many categories. QB Jared Goff has cooled since, but the Lions are getting much more consistent and inspired play from the defense, which is showing what might become a new “Silver Streak” pass rush with rookie Aidan Hutchinson maturing quickly.
While oddsmakers have been underestimating the Lions this season, the overall edge for the team ATS is small. Detroit’s average success against the spread has been 0.6 point. As noted above, the team continues to play close games. The team is 2-5 in games decided by a touchdown or less.
Can Lions Maintain Momentum Against Jacksonville?
The Jaguars are coming off a triumphant win led by the arm of franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who fired a touchdown pass into the corner of the end zone with 18 seconds left and then converted the two-point conversion to beat the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday.
Jacksonville is 4-7 ATS, which is also its overall record. The team ranks in the middle of the league in scoring (16th) and is 14th in points allowed. In some ways, the Jaguars mirror the Lions: a young team trying to establish a winning culture, with many promising players learning to compete in the league.
Detroit had its first three-game winning streak since 2017 snapped on Thanksgiving. While the franchise has tried to count way too many moral victories in the past, the loss to the Bills qualifies as one for a team still building to become a contender. Fans know the 2022-23 season is a foundation year, but there have been few games in which the team has been favored to notch a win in the recent past. Bettors will look at Sunday’s game against Jacksonville as a test of whether the Lions can perform when expected to. Detroit will be seeking to improve on a fine ATS record.
AP Photo/Rick Osentoski