The Detroit Lions season is over, but it’s been many years since this franchise has given its fans so much hope at the conclusion of a non-playoff season. Many experts are pointing to the young Lions as a playoff team soon, and the future seems promising.
We won’t have 2023-24 playoff odds, regular season win total, or Super Bowl odds until the NFL Playoffs conclude in about four weeks, but the Lions should be an interesting possibility for futures bets this fall.
Not only will the Lions have several talented young players returning in 2023, but the team also holds two first-round picks and two second-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Strong Finish Indicates Progress Toward Playoffs in 2023
Following a 1-6 stumble to begin the season, the Detroit Lions won eight of 10 games to finish 9-8 — the first winning record for the team since 2017. A victory in Week 18 on the road at Lambeau Field was precious for three reasons:
- It kept the hated Packers from the playoffs
- It gave Detroit a sweep of Green Bay for the first time with Aaron Rodgers as quarterback
- It gave the Lions a 5-1 mark in the NFC North, the best intradivision record
Building on that success against its rivals, the Lions should be optimistic looking ahead to 2023, though much is uncertain. Even after a terrible start, Detroit managed to get to the final weekend of the schedule with a chance to make the playoffs in coach Dan Campbell’s second season. Most fans would admit that puts the team ahead of schedule.
Speaking of schedule, the Lions 2023-24 schedule is set, though dates and times will be determined later.
2023 Detroit Lions Schedule
The NFL follows a formula for scheduling. which means we know the teams Detroit will play in the 2023-24 regular season:
Six games in their own division, two vs. each rival:
- Green Bay
- at Minnesota
- at Green Bay
- at Chicago
One game against each of the teams in the NFC South:
- at Tampa Bay
- at New Orleans
One game against the other two second-place teams in the NFC, not already on the Lions’ schedule:
- at Dallas
One game against each member of the AFC West:
- at Kansas City
- at Los Angeles Chargers
- Las Vegas
One game against a second-place team in the AFC:
- at Baltimore
In 2023-24, the Lions will play nine road games and eight inside Ford Field. Their schedule has eight games against teams that made the playoffs in 2022.
Interestingly, the quirks of the schedule have the Lions playing only four games outside in what might be considered “cold weather” locations: Chicago, Green Bay, Baltimore, and Kansas City. The Lions have been criticized as a team that does not perform well, especially as an offense, outside in adverse weather.
NFL Draft Could add Four Starters
How does that Matthew Stafford trade look now? Thanks to that deal, Detroit receives the Rams’ first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. It so happens that the pick will be the No. 6 overall selection. The Lions also have their own No. 18 pick.
With two picks in round 1, Detroit’s general manager Brad Holmes will have an opportunity to find a pair of potential impact players. First-rounders should typically be able to step into starting roles, especially on defense, where Detroit needs loads of help. While defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn had his unit playing better in the last six games (18 PPG allowed), the Lions’ defense allowed the most yards and third-most points in the league. That must be shored up via free agency, trades, and the draft.
The Lions have an additional second-round pick from the Vikings, which means they’ll select four players in the first 60 picks of the 2023 NFL Draft. If Holmes and his scouting department are doing their jobs, that could translate to three or maybe even four players to impact the defense. The team may also target a receiver with one of those selections.
Jared Goff played his way off the trade sheet. The veteran proved that he has the arm and the noggin to be a winning quarterback again. It doesn’t make any sense for the Lions to pursue a QB in the draft. Goff will turn 29 in October. He’s coming off a 4,438-yard season, and he posted the lowest interception rate of his career. He likes playing in Detroit, and his leadership helped spark the Lions to the No. 3 offense in the league, based on yardage gained.
Young players Aidan Hutchinson, Kerby Joseph, Malcolm Rodriguez, and yes, even Jameson Williams, will improve next season. Changes will be made, especially in the linebacking core and secondary. Maybe a pass rusher will be added. A tight end could be added in the draft. All of those things will make Detroit better, but those are still young players.
The NFL is an unforgiving league, and progress comes slowly at times. Fans shouldn’t expect another six-win improvement, but 2023 will be an exciting season for those who love the Lions.
AP Photo/Morry Gash