A blissful bye week to buttress the blues. No fears of historic kicks, last-minute losses or unexpected thrashings to shock a heart.
At the NFL season’s halfway mark, the 0-8 Detroit Lions are most certainly eliminated from any postseason fun as a winless 0-17 watch ramps up.
What’s a fan to do? First, football marriages don’t fold. Fan rules in sports, especially for the cool kid league in America, are strict: No bandwagon jumping. Especially in Detroit.
If ever any fan base deserves a loophole, though, it’s the lovers of the Leos.
We know you’d never, so we did
The following guide, then, is not for Lions fans to select a new forever team. Instead, we offer selections for a side team until this season’s nightmare ends.
Some boast great odds for a Super Bowl run. Others may have less of a chance, but their style feels like a fit for those hailing from the Mitten State. We included a smidge of history to help ya blend in and have calculated how far you’ll travel, should you decide to support The Other Team in person.
Go have fun now and come back next season. Because Detroit’s winning the Super Bowl for sure. Bet your kneecaps on it.
5. Green Bay Packers (7-2, 1st in NFC North)
A is for Aaro- … Nope.
A is for Absolutely Not.
Under no circumstances can any genuine Lions fan step out into the NFC North division. It’s just wrong. Even with Michigan native Matt LeFleur leading the team, and especially because No. 12 of the North may have found a dangerous way to finally disqualify himself from a decent State Farm rate.
5. Cleveland Browns (5-4, 3rd in AFC North)
Yes, we went there. To that state. What other fan base understands Lions-level woes more than the other havers-of-a-winless-season? The Browns struggled before their year of the zip, winning three games in 2015 and just one in 2016 before the big 0-16 production of 2017.
How they have blossomed, with reigning NFL Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski at the helm. In his first season with the team, he coached Cleveland to its first playoff game since 2002. (For Michigan readers who don’t know/remember, a “playoff game”, by the way, happens after the regular season to help determine a league champ).
The Browns can still flirt with the Lombardi Trophy, but even if their passes fail, a pal-ship with their fans? Comfort food for Lions lovers. Because Cleveland’s team doesn’t just represent pain, they represent hope.
Check out the Browns Backers Worldwide for a local place to support if you’ve already suffered too many never-ending Ohio drives this year while we check out the numbers.
Michigan oddsmakers give 30-1 odds for a Cleveland title
Nearly all Michigan sportsbooks give the Browns a better shot to win their division after the Baltimore Ravens. Those odds are +450 at most sportsbooks and +420 at FanDuel Sportsbook.
The Browns, oddsmakers say, have a middling chance to win the conference. The best payout offer so far comes from PointsBet at +1500 and Caesars has the lowest at +850.
- Browns players who played college in Michigan: DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State; WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan; T Jack Conklin, Michigan State
- Stadium: First Energy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
- Distance from Ford Field: 172 miles (2 hours, 41 minutes)
- History: Granted franchise in 1944 as AAFC charter member/first season was 1946, merged into NFL in 1950
- Titles: Four NFL championships in 1950, 1954-55, 1964
- All-time vs. Lions: 5-19-0 (Detroit beat Cleveland for two of its three championships in 1952 and 1953. Cleveland beat Detroit for its 1954 title).
- Remaining opponents: at New England, vs. Detroit, at Baltimore, BYE, vs. Baltimore, vs. Las Vegas, at Green Bay, at Pittsburgh, vs. Cincinnati
4. Dallas Cowboys (6-2, 1st in NFC East)
Switch teams now and keep those annual Thanksgiving Day plans since Detroit and Dallas remain the holiday’s dynamic hosting duo.
Did we mention Dallas leads its division?
The Cowboys are sure to return with a Texas-sized vengeance after getting embarrassed by the Broncos 30-16 in Week 9. Also. Did you catch Cooper Rush in Dak Prescott’s absence the week before? The Central Michigan product completed 24 passes on 40 tries and threw for 325 yards, two touchdowns and an interception to beat the Vikings in Minnesota, 20-16.
So we have shared traditions, familiar faces and an actual shot to win a ring? What’s not to love for the newest members of Dallas Cowboys United?!
Worried you’ll run out of stuff to talk about with your new friends? Three words: Calvin, Dez, Catches. Solidarity!
Now go grab a hat and shine those cowboy boots, pardner!
Cowboys definitely have a chance at Super Bowl title
All the Michigan sportsbooks give Dallas +1200 odds to win the Super Bowl.
Picking your new team to win the division is less profitable, and the numbers vary widely. The best bet for an NFC East divisional win comes from DraftKings Sportsbook at -1600, followed by FanDuel’s -1700 offering.
BetMGM and PointsBet think it’s a sure thing, offering the latest odds of -3333 and -4000, respectively. Those bettors would win $2.50 to $3 on a $100 wager.
Oddsmakers have the Cowboys in the top five for a chance at winning the conference. Caesars offers the highest payout at +1300 while FanDuel comes in at the lowest with +500.
- Cowboys who played college in Michigan: CB Jourdan Lewis, Michigan; TE Sean McKeon, Michigan; QB Cooper Rush, Central Michigan
- Stadium: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
- Distance from Ford Field: 1,204 miles (18 hours, 8 minutes)
- League History: Founded in 1960
- Titles: Five Super Bowl wins in 1972, 1978, 1993, 1994 and 1996
- All-time vs. Lions: 17-12-0 (Remember those sporadic visits to postseason play by the Lions? Three were against the Cowboys: Detroit won 38-6 in 1992 and lost 5-0 in 1970. Both were in the divisional round. Detroit lost a Wild Card game against Dallas 24-20 in 2015).
- Remaining opponents: vs. Atlanta, at Kansas City, vs. Las Vegas, at New Orleans, at Washington, at New York, vs. Washington, vs. Arizona, at Philadelphia
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3, 2nd in AFC North)
Well, Sunday may get awkward, but fans from Detroit will fit right in with folks from Pittsburgh, another hardworking city known for its grit. In fact, Pittsburgh is even more blue-collar than Detroit!
Remember how much fun metro-Detroiters had when the Steelers came to town for Super Bowl XL? These two fan bases are basically football cousins, and the Steelers have quite a few players who played college ball in Michigan.
Some say Pittsburgh is struggling and aging quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has three injuries listed heading into this week, but never count out a team led by head coach Mike Tomlin. His Steelers have made the playoffs nine times, appeared in two Super Bowls, winning one, and have never had a losing record in 14 seasons.
So grab that Terrible Towel, Steelers Nation newbie, and prepare for a possibly big payout.
Pittsburgh bandwagon bettors stand to win big
Betting on Pittsburgh to win it all is potentially the most profitable bet on this list. Michigan sportsbooks are offering a range of +4500 from FanDuel to +5500 from PointsBet. Caesars, BetMGM and BetRivers Sportsbook are offering +5000 odds.
DraftKings and Caesars are offering +550 for the Steelers to win the AFC North. The lowest offer for a divisional win comes from PointsBet at +450.
The Steelers rank about 10th for conference-title odds that range from +2000 (Caesars) to +2500 from BetMGM, PointsBet and BetRivers.
For Sunday’s game against the team we won’t name again, the Steelers are favored by anywhere from 7.5 to 9 points. As of Wednesday afternoon, BetMGM gave the Lions 8.5 points and offered +300 for the Lions moneyline and -385 for the Steelers.
BetMGM and FanDuel predict an over/under of 42.5 for the game.
- Steelers who played college ball in Michigan: LB Devin Bush, Michigan; DE Taco Charlton, Michigan; TE Zach Gentry, Michigan; CB Justin Layne, Michigan State;
- OL Chukwuma Okorator, Western Michigan; LB Robert Spillane, Western Michigan; WR Cody White, Michigan State; DL Chris Wormley, Michigan
- Stadium: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
- Distance from Ford Field: 285 miles (about 5 hours)
- League history: Founded in 1933/called Pirates until 1940 season
- Titles: Six Super Bowl wins in 1975, 1976, 1979, 1980, 2006 and 2009
- All-time vs. Lions: 17-14-1
- Remaining opponents: vs. Detroit, at Los Angeles Chargers, at Cincinnati, vs. Baltimore, at Minnesota, vs. Tennessee, at Kansas City, vs. Cleveland, at Baltimore
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2, 1st in NFC South)
Duh. Although about 50% of football fans from Michigan will need to roll their eyes back into place to keep reading, the Bucs are an obvious side-piece choice.
The reigning Super Bowl champs lead their division, plus, you know. Tom Brady. Haters gonna hate, but Brady’s gonna win.
Tampa Bay takers also will likely enjoy an immediate honeymoon phase this week since you’ll join the fan base following a stunning 36-27 loss to the Saints.
A loss that ended with Brady throwing an interception during what felt like a classic Brady comeback drive. An interception resulting in a New Orleans touchdown.
Yikes. Take cover, Washington Football Team.
Come to the Bucs bandwagon for Brady’s dad jokes. Stay for Bruce Arians’.
While you’re busy churning avocado ice cream and finding sunblock in Detroit, we’ll handle the odds research.
Bucs top Michigan sportsbooks’ choice for Super Bowl win
Oddsmakers of late have Tampa Bay edging out Buffalo to win Tom’s eighth ring. FanDuel and BetRivers each are offering +550, and the rest have it set at +600.
Tampa Bay is the heavy favorite to win the NFC South, with odds ranging from -650 from FanDuel to -800 for DraftKings. BetMGM has it at -667 and BetRivers set it at -670.
The Bucs also are top contenders to win the NFC this season, as shown by recent odds that range from +260 to +300. Caesars Sportsbook has the top bid there and BetRivers the lowest.
- Bucs who played college ball in Michigan: QB Tom Brady, Michigan; WR Antonio Brown, Central Michigan; DL William Gholston, Michigan State; DL Patrick O’Connor, Eastern Michigan; CB Sean Murphy-Bunting Central Michigan
- Stadium: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
- Distance from Ford Field: 1,178 miles (16 hours, 34 minutes)
- League history: Founded in 1974/First Season 1976
- Titles: Two Super Bowl wins in 2003, 2021
- All-time vs. Lions: 29-31-0
- Remaining opponents: at Washington, vs. New York, at Indianapolis, at Atlanta, vs. Buffalo, vs. New Orleans, at Carolina, at New York, vs. Carolina
1. Los Angeles Rams (7-2, 2nd in NFC West)
Don’t even think of pretending you aren’t secretly guzzling up every Matthew Stafford stat, pleading with your higher-ups: Please, if not the Lions, let Matthew get that ring.
It’s the right thing to do. Stafford & Co. have a realistic path to the Super Bowl and No. 9 is shining. Heading into Week 10, Stafford leads the league in passing yards at 2,771 – ahead of Brady (2,650), Derek Carr (2,565) and Patrick Mahomes (2,534).
Stafford’s also a top-five contender for MVP, with odds ranging from +300 to +800, behind Brady, Jared Allen and Kyler Murray.
The Rams’ fan base has apparently shot up the ranks in recent seasons, so you’ll make friends with a fun new group while enjoying the West Coast. Speaking of new friends, looks like Mr. Stafford and the Rams will have one, too, as the team is adding WR Odell Beckham Jr. Don’t forget, the Super Bowl contenders also traded for linebacker Von Miller last week.
While you Google the difference between DisneyWorld and Disneyland, we’ll visit the latest Rams odds from Michigan sportsbooks.
Rams trail Bucs, Bills as Super Bowl favorites
Oddsmakers are giving the Rams a range of +750 (Caesars, FanDuel and PointsBet) to +800 (BetMGM, BetRivers) to win the Super Bowl.
For the NFC West crown, the Rams are second-favorites behind the Cardinals. The highest payout for that outcome for now comes from FanDuel at +195 and DraftKings at +190. BetMGM’s is the lowest at +150.
L.A. trails just Tampa Bay for conference title odds, getting +350 from FanDuel and BetMGM, +650 for Caesars and +400 everywhere else.
- Rams who played college ball in Michigan: OL Brian Allen, Michigan State; CB David Long Jr., Michigan
- Stadium: Los Angeles Coliseum
- Distance from Ford Field: 2,287 miles (32 hours)
- League history: Founded Feb. 12, 1937 as the Cleveland Rams; moved to L.A. in 1946; moved to St. Louis in 1995 and back to L.A. again in 2016
- NFL Championships: 1945 and 1951; Super Bowl in 2000
- All-time vs. Lions: 45-41-1
- Remaining opponents: at San Francisco, bye week, at Green Bay, vs. Jacksonville, at Arizona, vs. Seattle, at Minnesota, at Baltimore, vs. San Francisco