Even though the Detroit Lions enter the 2020 season on the longest losing streak of any team, nine in a row, there is some optimism surrounding the club after a solid offseason and the return to health of quarterback Matthew Stafford -- who was off to his best start ever in 2019 before going down with a back injury. The Lions are 3-point favorites on the NFL odds for Sunday's opener vs. the visiting Chicago Bears. The home team is 4-1-1 ATS in the past six meetings, even though Detroit has dropped the past two in the series (close) at Ford Field.
For the first time in franchise history, the Lions open against the rival Bears and Packers in consecutive weeks. Detroit catches a break not having to play at frigid Lambeau Field late in the season but when it's quite nice in mid-September.
The Lions do not have a prime-time game on the 2020 NFL schedule, and their only spotlight game is the early Thanksgiving matchup against visiting Houston. Detroit is 37-41-2 all-time on Turkey Day. It's the first time the Lions don't have at least one prime-time game on the initial schedule (there could be games flexed or the two Saturday games may be at night) since 2010, when Detroit was off a 2-14 season in 2009.
Detroit is one one of four active franchises in the NFL to never play in a Super Bowl and the only one in the NFC. In fact, the Lions haven't won a playoff game since following the 1991 season and haven't won a division title since 1993 -- the longest division drought by far in the NFC.
The team has a new principal owner for the 2020 season and going forward as Sheila Ford Hamp has replaced her mother, Martha Firestone Ford, in that role and as chairman. Martha Firestone Ford had been in those positions since 2014 when original owner William Clay Ford passed away. Ford Hamp had been Firestone Ford's right-hand woman over that span as a vice chairman and played a role in the team's decision to not fire Coach Matt Patricia or GM Bob Quinn following a disappointing 2019 campaign.
Consider betting Detroit weekly on a 6-point teaser as the team is a stellar 26-6 ATS in that scenario -- thus, Detroit is losing a lot of close games SU (average score is 24.5-20.8).
DETROIT LIONS BETTING PROFILE
2019 record: 3-12-1 (fourth, NFC North)
2019 against the spread: 5-9-2
2019 ATS margin: -0.9
2019 Over-Under: 10-6
2020 strength of schedule: Tied for fifth-toughest; Lions' opponents combined for a .525 winning percentage last year (134-121-1).
WILLIAM HILL 2020 DETROIT LIONS FUTURES ODDS
Win total: 6.5 (Over -145 favorite)
To make playoffs: No -400, yes +300
Division: +850 to win NFC North
Conference: +5000 to win NFC for first time
NFL MVP: QB Matthew Stafford +6600
Defensive Player of the Year: DE Trey Flowers +5500
Defensive Rookie of the Year: CB Jeff Okudah +2000
Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB D'Andre Swift +1800
Comeback Player of the Year: Stafford +700
Coach of the Year: Matt Patricia +3000
SportsLine Model's projection: 7.3 wins (Pick is Over)
Week 1 vs. Chicago, 1 PM ET: These teams have met in Motown the past two Thanksgivings and the Lions lost both (1-1 ATS).
Week 2 at Green Bay, 1 PM ET: Detroit is 4-1 ATS in its past five games at Lambeau following a one-point loss in 2019.
Week 3 at Arizona, 4:25 PM ET: Detroit is 2-7-1 ATS in its past 10 vs. the Cards after a rare tie to open 2019 season.
Week 4 vs. New Orleans, 1 PM ET: First meeting since 2017 when Lions' three-game win streak in series snapped.
Week 5: BYE. Definitely too early.
Week 6 at Jacksonville, 1 PM ET: Detroit is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 after a bye, including 2-0 ATS under Patricia.
Week 7 at Atlanta, 1 PM ET: This is the first meeting since 2017, with the Lions on a five-game ATS skid in the series.
Week 8 vs. Indianapolis, 1 PM ET: The Lions are 2-6 SU & 3-5 ATS at home vs. AFC South teams.
Week 9 at Minnesota, 1 PM ET: Detroit is 0-2 SU & ATS in its past two at Minnesota and has totaled just 16 points.
Week 10 vs. Washington, 1 PM ET: Detroit saw its four-game SU & ATS win streak vs. the 'Skins snapped last year.
Week 11 at Carolina, 1 PM ET: This is Detroit's first trip to Charlotte since 2014 and it is on four-game skid there.
Week 12 vs. Houston, 12:30 PM ET (Thanksgiving): The Lions are 13-9 SU against AFC teams all-time on the holiday.
Week 13 at Chicago, 1 PM ET: The Lions have failed to cover their past four at Soldier Field but did win there in 2017.
Week 14 vs. Green Bay, 1 PM ET: Detroit lost 23-20 at home last year while covering its third straight when hosting the Pack.
Week 15 at Tennessee, TBD ET (Saturday or Sunday): Detroit is 6-6 ATS in Patricia's two seasons as a road underdog.
Week 16 vs. Tampa Bay, TBD ET (Saturday or Sunday): Detroit was +6 last year at home vs. the Bucs and got routed 38-17.
Week 17 vs. Minnesota, 1 PM ET: The Lions are 0-3 SU & ATS in the past three home meetings.
EXPERT PICK FROM SUPERCONTEST GURU R.J. WHITE: Under 6.5 wins (+110)
We're getting two bites at the apple by going with the Under here. Matthew Stafford is supposedly healthy after back issues ended his 2019 season, but this wouldn't be the first time a quarterback's rehab is treated overly optimistic only to see those injury issues sink a team's season before it begins. And even if Stafford is 100 percent in September, there's no reason to assume the Lions will win seven games with questions on both sides of the ball. There's also the possibility Matt Patricia doesn't make it the full 16 games, and with the Lions potentially only being favored once at home, it could be another long season in Detroit. They have some winnable away games in the middle of the season if things are clicking, but a difficult stretch at the end of the year means they'd better pack on six wins by Thanksgiving if they're going to cash the Over.
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