After a disappointing summer for Detroit pro sports fans, football season is quickly approaching.
The Detroit Lions opened up training camp last week and Monday marks the start of practices open to the public.
With a lot of growing optimism over the Lions, here’s some of the news coming out of the early days of camp.
Lions’ season odds improving
Most NFL critics agree that the Detroit Lions had a good NFL Draft last spring. That’s carried the Lions into a positive start to training camp.
While nobody is projecting them to win the Super Bowl, the Lions odds to make the playoffs are improving.
Here’s where BetMGM Michigan had the Lions’ odds prior to the start of the NFL Draft:
- Super Bowl champion: +15000
- NFC champion: +6600
- NFC North champion: +1200
- Over/Under for season wins: 6.5 (Over +120; Under -150)
- Will they make the playoffs: +500
Now, here’s where the odds sit for Dan Campbell’s squad on Aug. 1 at BetMGM:
- Super Bowl champion: +12500
- NFC champion: +5000
- NFC North champion: +850
- Over/Under for season wins: 6.5 (Over -125; Under +105)
- Will they make the playoffs: +370
Clearly, the projection for the 2022 NFL Season has improved for the Lions during the offseason.
With their debut on HBO’s Hard Knocks set for Tuesday, Aug. 9, Michigan sports bettors may want to consider the latest odds before they get any shorter.
Jared Goff looking more comfortable
Most agree the Lions added more weapons for quarterback Jared Goff, who is entering his second season in Detroit.
Goff threw for 3,245 yards and 19 touchdowns last season with eight interceptions. His average per attempt was just 6.6 yards, which needs to improve this year.
Amon-Ra St. Brown emerged as a viable receiver late into his rookie year. The Lions also signed DJ Chark in the offseason while hoping to mix in Josh Reynolds for big plays as well. Thus far in camp, Goff looks like more of a confident and capable field general.
“Goff looks more comfortable running the offense. The coaching staff has worked with the veteran quarterback all offseason to find aspects of his game that worked when he was a member of the Los Angeles Rams,” said John Maakaron, publisher of Sports Illustrated’s FanNation team site All Lions. “Having Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds on the roster should give him decent weapons that he trusts. Quintez Cephus and Trinity Benson will battle all training camp for targets and to work their way up the chart.”
Currently, FanDuel Sportsbook MI is listing Goff with an over/under of 3,600.5 passing yards for the season. His over/under for passing touchdowns sits at 22.5. The over and under for both markets are listed at -112.
Aidan Hutchinson looking like a top pick at Lions training camp
Football fans in the state of Michigan are excited about Aidan Hutchinson being added to the defensive mix for the Lions.
The No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft is expected to be a featured piece of the defense right away. Detroit had just 30 sacks in the 2021 season, the third fewest in the league.
Thus far, Hutchinson is looking every bit of the part.
“Hutchinson has quite a bit of pressure on him, based on where he was drafted. Early in camp, he has demonstrated versatility and an ability to use a variety of pass rush moves to win reps,” Maakaron said. “He dazzled season-ticket holders over the weekend, even beating Penei Sewell by using a swim move.”
DraftKings Sportsbook MI is currently listing Hutchinson at +550 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year this season. He is currently tied as the favorite with Kayvon Thibodeaux of the New York Giants.
D’Andre Swift bulks up
D’Andre Swift has proven to be a big asset when on the field for the Lions.
Problem is, Swift has struggled with injuries and missed multiple games in each of his first two season.
Swift addressed that this offseason by hitting the gym and bulking up.
“Detroit’s speedy running back put in the work in the gym this offseason. Challenged by the coaching staff to stay healthier, Swift has noticeably bulked out,” Maakaron said. “Based on his usage the first week of camp, Detroit’s offense is going to benefit tremendously from utilizing their running backs in the passing game. While Swift may not be a 20+ carry back every week, running behind a healthy offense line should produce a positive outcome every week.”
A proven pass-catcher out of the backfield, Swift has 809 receiving yards through two years to go with his 1,138 rushing yards.
FanDuel is listing Swift with an over/under of 850.5 rushing yards this season and an over/under of 6.5 rushing touchdowns.
Will Harris is making plays daily at Lions camp
If the Lions are going to improve this season, their pass defense will have to improve greatly.
Last season the Lions gave up 31 passing touchdowns and opposing QB’s had a 101.1 rating against them.
Injuries certainly were an issue in 2021, but Campbell is still making some adjustments to the secondary.
Last year, Will Harris finished second on the team in tackles with 93 from the safety position. In 2022, Harris is making a move to cornerback in his fourth year in the league. A player that has gotten a lot of praise from the coaching staff in the past, Harris is adjusting nicely to the new position.
“The coaching staff decided to officially switch Harris’ position this offseason. With Jeff Okudah working his way back and splitting reps with Harris, (defensive coordinator) Aaron Glenn is searching for a player to earn a starting spot opposite of Amani Oruwariye,” Maakaron said. “Harris, who struggled to gain traction playing safety, has made plays, even when the offense decided to isolate him against tight end T.J. Hockenson. Harris has held his own at cornerback through the first week of camp.”
Lions undrafted free agent Demetrius Taylor making waves
Undrafted free agents can always be a key addition to any team.
One that looks to be making a difference early in camp is defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor out of Appalachian State.
Standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 295 pounds, Taylor is getting the attention of onlookers at practice.
“Taylor has been working with the third-team defense, but he keeps making impactful plays,” Maakaron said. “For a team seeking playmakers on the defensive line, the emergence of a young player can tremendously benefit this defense.”
His efforts are getting the attention of the coaching staff as well.
“He just won’t go away because he just keeps getting better and better and better,” head coach Dan Campbell told the media. “And so, I know this, he’s been one of those guys that I’d be willing to bet that (defensive line coach Todd) Wash would tell you since spring, he’s had some of the best improvement, most improvement of any of those guys.”
Taylor and the rest of the Lions get their first preseason game action on Friday, Aug. 12. The Lions host the Atlanta Falcons at 6 p.m. ET on the NFL Network.