Does A Top Ten Offensive Line Make The Detroit Lions A Better Bet?

Success has been hard to come by for the Detroit Lions in recent years. Unfortunately, that also means it has been hard for fans to justify betting on their favorite team. But there may be a good reason to at least consider betting on the Detroit Lions during the 2021 NFL season.

Their offensive line is projected to be one of the better ones in the league; top ten, in fact (according to PFF).

There is an old saying about how the game is won or lost in the trenches. What are the trenches? The trenches are that space between the offensive and defensive line at the line of scrimmage. If a defensive line can win that space, it is hard for an offense to be productive.

Consequently, if the offensive line can win that space, good things tend to happen.

Proof Of Concept

In theory, if an offensive line can control the trenches, it will be easier to run the ball. If an offense can do that, then defenses cannot rush the passer as hard because they must respect the run. That, in turn, means that there will be less pressure on the quarterback, which should benefit the passing game.

When the passing game and running game are productive, life gets hard for defenses. Rather than focus on stopping one thing, they must worry about everything—which bodes well for offenses.

When defenses are worried about the pass and run, they do not blitz as much (if at all). They also cannot stack the box to stop the run. So who wins or loses basically comes down to who can win the most individual battles at that point.

That sounds great, in theory, but theory and reality do not always coincide. But when it comes to having one of the better offensive lines—it does.

Over the last five seasons, of the ten teams that played in the Super Bowl, seven had offensive lines ranked in the top ten. For example, the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line ranked No. 11 last season and 16th the year before when they beat the San Francisco 49ers (whose offensive line ranked 14th).

The 2020 season Chiefs are the only Super Bowl winner (LIV) in the last five years not to have a top ten offensive line.

There is more that goes into winning the Super Bowl than a good offensive line, of course. But having a good offensive line seems to be a common trait of the teams in contention. Of the ten teams that played in the NFC title game the last five years, eight of them had top ten offensive lines.

On the AFC side, seven of them did.

Again, it takes more to win a conference than an offensive line—so, let’s break it down a little further. Of the 14 teams that made the playoffs in 2020, seven of them had offensive lines ranking inside the top ten. In 2019, when there were just 12 playoff teams, that number was six.

In 2018, there were seven playoff teams with top ten offensive lines. There were eight in 2017 and six in 2016.

To be fair, twice (2016 and 2018), the team with the 32nd ranked offensive line made the playoffs. So, a team doesn’t have to have a good offensive line to make the postseason.

But it helps.

Bets On The Detroit Lions In 2021/22DraftKingsPointsBet William Hill
To Win The Division+2000+2200+2500
To Win The Conference+6600+7500+10000
To Win The Super Bowl+15000+15000+20000
To Make The Playoffs (Yes/No)+575/-910+575/-910+600/-900
Win Total (Over/Under)5 (-110/-110)5 (-110/-120)5 (-110/-110)
To Go 0-17+2800+2800+2500
Most Wins/Best Record+15000+25000+50000
Fewest Wins/Worst Record+400+300+350
To Win MVP--Jared Goff+12500+9000+10000
To Win Head Coach Of The Year--Dan Campbell+4000+5000+5000

Detroit Lions 2021 Betting Recommendations

Since PFF ranks the Lions offensive line tenth heading into the season, does that make them worth betting on to win the Super Bowl or the NFC Conference title game? After all, two of the last five Super Bowl winners had o-lines ranked tenth or higher.

One of the last five NFC winners had an o-line ranked outside the top ten. Does that mean the Lions have a chance?

As nice as it would be to say yes and then daydream about the potential payout—the answer is no. It takes so much more to win a conference title or the Super Bowl. So with Aaron Rodgers still in the division, do not count on the Lions winning the NFC North.

However, they are not a terrible bet to make the playoffs. At +600 odds (William Hill), there is undoubtedly value. That would, in turn, mean they are a good bet to cover the over on their win total. It would also mean they are not a good bet to go 0-17 or to have the worst record/fewest wins.

Making the playoffs will necessitate turning last season’s four losses by a touchdown or less into wins. However, with an improved offense, courtesy of their offensive line, it is possible. Should that happen, Dan Campbell’s name will undoubtedly come up in Coach of the Year conversations.

But for Jared Goff to win MVP, his lackluster group of wide receivers must each have career-best seasons. Goff is a good quarterback but not good enough to turn three mediocre receivers into studs, making it hard to see him win MVP honors.

Comeback Player of the Year? Maybe– if he had odds.

So—take the Lions to make the playoffs, cover the over on their win total, and take Dan Campbell to win Coach of the Year. But do not bet the house on any of them. Just skip your morning latte for a week or two.

About the Author

Travis Pulver

Travis Pulver is a lifelong football fan, which he believes comes naturally as he hails from the football-crazy state of Texas. His love of sports, over the years, has grown to include basketball, baseball, rugby, and golf. Currently, life finds him in Indiana with his wife and two kids.