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Mad Stats: Projecting the 2017 Detroit Lions season

What if we recklessly used math to project the Detroit Lions stats?

Arizona Cardinals v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

As an obsessive math nerd, I love calculating things. I also love looking at efficiency more often than I look at volume. If I haven’t lost you yet, (two sentences might be a record for me!) know that what I’m going to be looking at today is done completely in jest.

A favorite among efficiency nuts is to project stats based on a per game or per snap efficiency metric. Eric Ebron, for instance, was on pace to have more catches than Anquan Boldin last season, but he played less games and therefore didn’t. Most of the time you take a volume stat (like total receptions) break it down into an efficiency stat (receptions per game), and then project it out over a set amount of time (a full 16-game season). It’s pretty simple, but it normally gives you realistic results. Projecting single game statistics over an entire season? Maybe a bit less realistic. A bit fun, though, so here’s our 2017 Detroit Lions stats projections!


Matthew Stafford

656 Attempts
464 Completions
70.7% Completions
4,672 Yards
64 Touchdowns
16 Interceptions
32 Rushing Attempts
224 Rushing Yards

Can you say MVP? Stafford is presently on pace to break some of the best passing records in history. It’d be impossible to give the MVP to anyone other than a QB who throws 64 touchdowns. Impossible.


Ameer Abdullah

240 Attempts for 480 Yards and 0 TDs at 2.0 YPC
48 Receptions for 176 Yards at 3.7 Y/R

Dwayne Washington

96 Attempts for 352 Yards and 0 TDs at 3.7 YPC
No Receptions

Theo Riddick

16 Attempts for -16 Yards
96 Receptions for 432 Yards and 16 TDs at 4.5 Y/R

Not too promising here, as the Lions still fail to get a running game together even when we’re cheating the numbers. What’s going to hurt a bit is losing the potential for Kasey Redfern’s rushing yards. The backup punter was on pace for 160 yards prior to his injury.


Golden Tate

160 Receptions for 1,712 Yards and 0 TDs at 10.7 Y/R
32 Attempts for 112 Yards and 0 TDs at 3.5 YPC

Kenny Golladay

64 Receptions for 1,104 Yards and 32 TDs at 17.3 Y/R

Marvin Jones Jr.

32 Receptions for 592 Yards and 16 TDs at 18.5 Y/R

TJ Jones

32 Receptions for 512 Yards and 0 TDs at 16 Y/R

Eric Ebron

32 Receptions for 144 Yards and 0 TDs at 4.5 Y/R

Along with the MVP, the Lions also net the clear-cut Rookie of the Year as Kenny Golladay tops 1,100 yards and sets a new record for receiving touchdowns. Stafford spends most of his time targeting Golden Tate all over the field—though he never gets in the end zone—and then Stafford spreads the ball around equally to his other receivers.

The Defense


Jarrad Davis

144 Tackles, 16 Fumble Recoveries

Tahir Whitehead

80 Tackles

Geez, the Lions are going to get the Defensive Rookie of the Year, as well? Davis netting 144 tackles and playing every snap puts him right in that running, while Tahir Whitehead nets a respectable 80 total tackles.

Defensive Line

Ziggy Ansah

16 Tackles, 0 Sacks

Anthony Zettel

48 Tackels, 16.0 Sacks

A’Shawn Robinson

48 Tackles, 16 Forced Fumbles

Akeem Spence

32 Tackles

Jeremiah Ledbetter

32 Tackles

Jeremiah Valoaga

16 Tackles

So the Lions pass rush didn’t improve a whole lot statistically. The only DL to record a sack is Anthony Zettel despite the rest of them racking up loads of tackles. Robinson didn’t nab any pass deflections, but 16 forced fumbles is nothing to scoff at.

Defensive Backs


Darius Slay

16 Tackles, 16 Pass Deflections

Nevin Lawson

48 Tackles, 16 Pass Deflections

D.J. Hayden

48 Tackles, 0 Pass Deflections

Quandre Diggs

48 Tackles, 48 Pass Deflections

Anything stand out to you guys here? No? How about Quandre Diggs breaking up more passes than most receivers catch in a season?


Glover Quin

80 Tackles, 16 Pass Deflections, 16 Interceptions, 16 Forced Fumbles

Tavon Wilson

48 Tackles, 16 Pass Deflections, 16 Interceptions

Miles Killebrew

32 Tackles, 32 Pass Deflections, 16 Interceptions for 16 TDs

Can anyone say DPOY? Hell, if someone put up the type of stats Glover Quin is on pace for, or as many defensive TDs that Killebrew is on pace for, you could make an argument for either as MVP.


So what do you think? Are any of these numbers realistic? Which crazy statistical projection has the best chance of actually becoming reality? Let us know in the comments. Oh, and we didn’t project out team stats, but it’s easy to guess that we’re talking about a 16-0 team here, right?

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