On the heels of Pro Football Focus' 4-12 prediction for the Detroit Lions season, we wanted to take a look at what the odds are saying. One criticism of the PFF article was it ignored the Lions' perceived easy schedule. With games against the AFC and NFC East -- two of the worst divisions in 2015 -- many believe the Lions have at least four or five "gimme" wins. But what do the odds say? Let's take a look at each game individually, with the odds provided by ESPN.
Week 1: Lions at Colts
Line: Colts by 4
It doesn't come as much of a surprise that the Lions are underdogs in their season opener. Though the Colts also had a disappointing season in 2015, finishing 8-8, many are expecting Andrew Luck and his team to rebound in 2016. A line of four points represents a matchup that is tilted a little more than just home-field advantage, so this seems about right.
Week 2: Titans at Lions
Line: Lions by 5
The last time these two teams played, the Titans won in a crazy game that involved a successful hail mary caught by Titus Young and a botched snap in overtime that cost Detroit the game. The Titans are a team theoretically on the rise, but a 3-13 season last year doesn't inspire a lot of confidence just one year later.
Week 3: Lions at Packers
Line: Packers by 8.5
Last year, the Lions came within seconds of sweeping the Packers for the first time in two decades. Although the Packers were suffering from a plethora of injuries, the teams still seemed quite evenly matched. The Packers offense will undoubtedly look better with a healthy Jordy Nelson back, but the Lions have always played the Packers close. This line seems absurdly high considering the Packers have defeated the Lions by more than seven points just three times in the last 12 contests.
Week 4: Lions at Bears
Line: Bears by 1.5
It has been a while since we've reminded you, but #WeOwnTheBears. Chicago hasn't defeated Detroit since December 30, 2012. That's six straight wins for the Lions, including three straight at Soldier Field. But Vegas still has the Bears as slight favorites. The general consensus is the Bears had a much better offseason than the Lions, so it shouldn't come as much of a shock the odds are lined up this way.
Week 5: Eagles at Lions
Line: Lions by 1
Detroit absolutely destroyed the Eagles on Thanksgiving last year, but the Eagles went through major changes in the offseason. With a new coach in tow and the NFC East being it's typical unpredictable self, it's nearly impossible to say where the Eagles will be this year. Lions by one is a safe line, but still seems a bit unfair to the Lions, who dominated their opponent in every facet last year.
Week 6: Rams at Lions
Line: Lions by 1.5
This comes as a bit of surprise, as Detroit fell decisively to the Rams in St. Louis last year. That being said, the Rams will (presumably) have rookie Jared Goff behind center with just five games under his belt. And although the Rams lost Janoris Jenkins, Rodney McLeon and Chris Long, their defense will remain pretty darn good. This is a tough game to predict this far out, but I think Vegas may be a little generous here to the Lions.
Week 7: Washington at Lions
Line: Lions by 1
Again, the Lions edge out a minor advantage over an NFC East foe. Washington finished the season 9-7 and proceeded to get whooped in Wild Card weekend by the Packers, despite taking an 11-0 lead in that game. Washington hasn't defeated the Lions since 2008, losing the last three matchups between the two teams, but again, this is a tough one to predict. Washington had a very un-stereotypical offseason, failing to make any huge splashes, but they have a good basis to build on from last year. Lions by one seems both safe and accurate for the home team.
Week 8: Lions at Texans
Line: Texans by 4
The Texans were a mess of a team last year, yet somehow managed to make the playoffs in the pathetic AFC South. They finished the year 9-7 after rolling to three straight wins against divisional opponents to finish the season. They then proceed to get shutout in the playoffs 30-0. This year, however, the Texans boast an actual quarterback in Brock Osweiler and their defense is still pretty good. That being said, this line seems a bit unfair. The Texans were not a legitimate playoff team last year, and Osweiler has yet to prove much in the NFL. This line should be closer.
Week 9: Lions at Vikings
Line: Vikings by 6.5
Minnesota really took it to the Lions in both matchups last year, and you could argue they're even better this year. It should really come as no surprise the Vikings are favored by this much at home as they beat Detroit by nine and ten points last season. However, Detroit swept the Minnesota the year before that, so a lot can change in one year.
Week 11: Jaguars at Lions
Line: Lions by 3.5
Of all teams, the Jaguars had the most exciting offseason. They threw the bank at defensive end Malik Jackson, added Prince Amukamara, and got two great defensive players in the draft in Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack. Some believe the Jaguars are the most improved team. With Blake Bortles and an underrated offense, the Jaguars could take a big step this year. They'll have to, if they want to compete with the Lions, as Jacksonville finished a mere 5-11 last year.
Week 12: Vikings at Lions
Line: Vikings by 2.5
Again, the Lions are underdogs against the Vikings, this time at home. Last year, the Lions certainly played a little better at home against Minnesota, but they were still down by two possessions for the majority of the second half. For the Lions to have an advantage in this matchup, they'll have to figure out the Minnesota defense that completely stymied them last year.
Week 13: Lions at Saints
Line: Saints by 2
This line is a bit hard to swallow. Although the Lions edged out a win in New Orleans last year, the game didn't seem quite as close as the final score suggests. The Lions took 21-3 lead into halftime and put up a whopping 396 yards of offense on the Saints. I'm not convinced that the Saints have gotten much better this offseason, and while it's always a challenge to win in the Superdome, I think the Lions should be favored in this one.
Week 14: Bears at Lions
Line: Lions by 2.5
After being 1.5 point underdogs on the road, the Lions are 2.5 point favorites at home. That shows that Vegas "believes" the Lions are a slightly better team than the Bears, which I concur with at this point. This seems like a fair assessment given how close the teams played each other last year. The Lions won their home game in overtime, and beat the Bears on the road by 4.
Week 15: Lions at Giants
Line: Giants by 3
When the two teams last played, the Lions dominated the Giants in the Monday Night Football season opener. This line is a bit puzzling, as the Giants finished just 6-10 last year. But, then again, who knows where the Giants will be this year. A line of three is small enough where it is essentially just the home field advantage tipping the scales. Still, it feels like this line should be even closer.
Week 16: Lions at Cowboys
Line: Cowboys by 5
The last time the two teams met, [CONTENT REDACTED DUE TO NSFW LANGUAGE]. Dallas finished 2015 with just a 4-12 record, but that was mostly without the services of Tony Romo, who won three of the Cowboys' four games last year. Romo is expected to be back, and just like that, the Cowboys are contenders again, I guess. This seems like a very presumptuous line at this point, but the Cowboys will always get more hype than they deserve.