Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire
Do you like a longshot? May I introduce the 2021 Detroit Lions?
According to the sportsbooks available to bettors in Michigan, the Lions are a long (and I mean loooooong) shot to win the Super Bowl after an off-season of roster and front office changes.
But one man’s challenge is another’s opportunity, right? A bet on the Lions to win it all could pay off huge.
Detroit Lions Futures Bets
Here’s how three major Sportsbooks in Michigan have the Lions’ chances for a Super Bowl title in 2022:
Only the Houston Texans have odds as long, according to BetRivers, for a Super Bowl LVI title. At FanDuel, the Lions are the longest longshot, with no other NFL team above +8000 (the Broncos and Jaguars). FanDuel has the Lions as +2700 to win the NFL North division.
BetMGM lists the Lions at +4000 to win the NFC title, and +8000 to win Super Bowl LVI. BetMGM has three teams as longer shots than Detroit: the Jets, Texans, and Jaguars.
Why do two of the three Michigan Sportsbooks have the Lions as the longest odds to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy next year? It may have something to with the changes made in the three key positions on a football team: the general manager, the head coach, and the starting quarterback.
Front Office Re-Shuffling in Detroit
When Bob Quinn came to Detroit to be the general manager, he was an untested figure in that role. He came from New England, where he had great success with that dynasty. But Quinn’s roles before Detroit were in personnel and scouting, not in building a team. He had never hired or fired a head coach.
That experiment didn’t go well for the Ford family, who own the Lions. Quinn inherited a head coach, Jim Caldwell, who was not exactly his type of leader. Apparently Caldwell was too hands-off, and even though Caldwell had two winning seasons and made the playoffs, he was fired by Quinn after the 2017 season. Mistake #1 for Quinn.
Quinn’s player moves during his tenure have proved to be unfortunate for the success of the franchise. His five first-round picks have combined for zero pro bowl appearances, and his frantic moves to improve a terrible defensive unit never worked. That was mistake #2, and mistake #3 was his hiring of Matt Patricia, a crony from his Patriots days. Quinn personally vouched for Patricia, who ended up revealing his questionable character in Detroit where he belittled players, showed up late for meetings, and harassed reporters.
Both Quinn and Patricia were fired after Week 12 of the 2020 season, after accumulating a terrible record in the Motor City. Quinn was replaced after the season by Brad Holmes, who spent his entire professional career with the Rams in the scouting department, gradually inching his way up the org chart. Holmes is a promising front office figure, but still untested in the role of GM.
Matt Patricia Was Shown The Door
How do you explain the Matt Patricia era in Detroit? The former defensive coordinator for the Patriots rode into town on the heels of winning multiple Super Bowls under Bill Belichick. But just because you stand close to greatness, doesn’t mean greatness rubs off on you.
Patricia’s record in Detroit was a paltry 13-29-1, and he suffered the humiliation of being axed in the middle of the 2020 season. Worse yet, Patricia’s teams squandered opportunities time and again. The Lions lost 13 games by less than a touchdown, and amazingly, during the Patricia era, the team had a lead in 36 of 43 games, yet managed to lose or tie 30 of them. Under Patricia, the Lions snatched defeat from the jaws of victory several times.
The Lions mercifully fired Patricia 11 games into the 2020 season, and the state of Michigan heard a collective sigh of relief from the Detroit locker room. Several players had complained that Patricia was crass, disrespectful, and unprofessional. We’ve always said you should never trust a man with two first names. Matt Patricia: not sorry to see you go.
After the 2020 season, which saw the Lions post a 5-11 record and their third straight last-place finish, the front office, guided by new GM Brad Holmes, hired former tight end Dan Campbell. In an 11-year career, Campbell earned a reputation as a bruiser. All-Pro Cowboys’ tight end Jason Witten, who studied under Campbell, had this to say about his mentor: “He’s a tough guy… and a leader.”
Exit Of The Lions Greatest Quarterback
So maybe you think Bobby Layne was the greatest quarterback to ever wear a Lions jersey. Fair enough: hard-partying Bobby won three NFL titles for the Lions, and he was a thrilling passer and playmaker. But once you get into the modern era, no Detroit QB can even touch Matthew Stafford.
The #1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Stafford possesses a superb arm and he’s a cool customer when his team has their backs against the wall. In 2016 he set an NFL record with eight 4th quarter comebacks.
But Stafford’s most defining characteristic can be summed up in one word: toughness. Throughout his career, the strong-armed QB has endured spine-bending hits and hard-charging defensive players aimed at crushing him. Stafford has played through injuries and still put up great numbers. He was the fastest player to reach 20,000 and 30,000 and 45,000 yards. He was the first NFL QB to complete 60% of his passes in every game in a single season.
Still, after 12 seasons in Detroit without a single postseason win, it was time for Stafford to move on. Still young enough to chase a ring with a good team, Stafford deserved a chance to play in a better system. The Lions are in a rebuilding mode, and there was never a better time to separate from their starting quarterback. Stafford was traded to the Rams this offseason for several draft picks and quarterback Jared Goff, who will presumably manage the Lions offense while new GM Holmes and new coach Campbell figure out where to go next.