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Lions schedule, 2021 NFL odds: Detroit and Jared Goff likely underdogs first 5 games, visit Matthew Stafford in Week 7

The Detroit Lions are essentially starting from scratch this NFL season, including at quarterback with Jared Goff.
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The Jared Goff/Dan Campbell Era in Detroit begins with a Week 1 home game vs. San Francisco, and it's likely that the Lions will be underdogs in at least the first five weeks. They are the biggest opening-week dogs at +7.5 vs. the Niners. Frankly, it's not out of the question the Lions are underdogs in every game this season. The lone prime-time matchup is Week 2 at Green Bay on Monday night, and the Lions have three sets of back-to-back road games on a schedule that includes nine games against 2020 playoff teams.

A wild NFL offseason actually began the week before Super Bowl 55 when the Detroit Lions sent franchise quarterback and former No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for quarterback Goff and a bushel of draft picks – technically, the deal wasn't official until mid-March. That and the hiring of a new general manager and head coach signaled a full-on rebuild in the Motor City after the Lions finished 5-11 last year and missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season. William Hill Sportsbook gives Detroit an Over/Under win total of just 5.0 this year, with the SportsLine Projection Model forecasting 5.5 victories.

The Lions are the only NFC team to not reach a Super Bowl and have the longest division title drought in the conference, last winning the way back in 1993 when it was still the NFC Central. Neither of those droughts are ending this year.

In fact, it's much more likely that Detroit "earns" the first pick of the 2022 NFL Draft and takes its next franchise QB in someone like North Carolina's Sam Howell or Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler. Via the SportsLine Projection Model, only the New York Jets (4.6) and Houston Texans (4.8) project for fewer wins in 2021. At William Hill, only Houston (4.5) has a lower Over/Under win total.

Perhaps Goff will be salvageable for the Lions, who passed on quarterbacks like Ohio State's Justin Fields and Alabama's Mac Jones with the No. 7 overall pick and selected Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell. No shock the team went with a lineman considering what new coach Campbell said back in January at his introductory press conference.

"This team is going to take on the identity of this city and this city has been down and it found a way to get up. It's found a way to overcome adversity, right? So this team is going to be built on, we're going to kick you in the teeth, right? And when you punch us back, we're going to smile at you," Campbell said. "And when you knock us down, we're going to get up and on the way up, we're going to bite a kneecap off. All right? And we're going to stand up and it's going to take two more shots to knock us down. And on the way up, we're going to take your other kneecap and we're going to get up and it's going to take three shots to get us down. And when we do, we're going to take another hunk out of you. … Before long, we're going to be the last one standing. That's going to be the mentality."

In free agency, the Lions let Pro Bowl wideout Kenny Golladay walk away without bothering to slap the franchise tag on him. The team was able to re-sign defensive end Romeo Okwara, who had a career-best 10 sacks in 2020.

The Lions' 2021 schedule is ranked as the 6th-toughest in the league as their 17 opponents – visiting the Broncos is the 17th game -- were a combined 143-127-2 last season.

Detroit Lions trends/William Hill Sportsbook odds

  • 2020 record: 5-11 (6-9-1 against the spread, 10-6 Over/Under)
  • 2021 strength of schedule rank: 6th (opponents' combined winning percentage of .529)
  • 2021 Over/Under win total: 5.0
  • SportsLine Projection Model forecasted wins: 5.5
  • Odds to win Super Bowl 56: +15000
  • To win NFC: +7500
  • To win NFC North: +2000
  • To make playoffs: No -900, yes +600
  • NFL MVP odds: Jared Goff +10000

Detroit Lions Schedule

Week 1 vs. San Francisco 49ers: Lions' only SU victory in past 10 meetings overall was in 2015

Week 2 at Green Bay Packers (MNF): Detroit's three-game ATS win streak at Lambeau ended last year (42-21 loss)

Week 3 vs. Baltimore Ravens: Detroit has dropped past three vs. Ravens (last in 2017) and didn't cover in any

Week 4 at Chicago Bears: Lions were 3-point road dogs last year and upset the Bears 34-30

Week 5 at Minnesota Vikings: Minnesota has won past three at home in series each by double digits

Week 6 vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Cincinnati is 9-1 SU in past 10 meetings, losing way back in 1992

Week 7 at Los Angeles Rams: Lions lost last meeting 30-16 at home in 2018 and are 1-3 ATS in past four

Week 8 vs. Philadelphia Eagles: The Over has hit in seven straight games between these teams

Week 9 BYE

Week 10 at Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh is 9-1 SU in past 10 meetings but 5-5 ATS

Week 11 at Cleveland Browns: Cleveland won first meeting since return to NFL but has lost past four

Week 12 vs. Chicago Bears (Thanksgiving): Chicago has won the past three in the series at Ford Field by a combined 15 points

Week 13 vs. Minnesota Vikings: Vikes have won past four on road in series but didn't cover in 2020 (37-35)

Week 14 at Denver Broncos: Added 17th opponent; Broncos won last meeting 27-17 at home two years ago

Week 15 vs. Arizona Cardinals: Fifth straight year teams will play overall; Lions are 3-0-1 SU in past four

Week 16 at Atlanta Falcons: Detroit snapped five-game ATS losing streak in series with 23-22 road win last year

Week 17 at Seattle Seahawks: Seattle's lone loss in past seven meetings was in Detroit nine years ago

Week 18 vs. Green Bay Packers: Pack have won past two at Detroit but are 0-4 ATS in past four there

Where does every player appear in our 2021 Fantasy football rankings? And which rookie quarterback will provide shocking value? Join SportsLine right now to get 2021 Fantasy football rankings, all from the model that simulated the entire season 10,000 times.

Matt Severance
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