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Saturday open thread: Where will the Detroit Lions’ defense rank in 2018?

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How much of an impact will Matt Patricia have in his first year as Lions head coach?

Detroit Lions Introduce Matt Patricia Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Ever since the 2018 NFL Draft, we’ve talked a lot about the Detroit Lions’ offense. It makes a lot of sense, seeing as Detroit used their first two draft picks to address that side of the ball, and we could now see a very different, more balanced attack.

However, the Lions are going to look drastically more different on defense in 2018. They have a completely new coaching staff on that side of the ball and much of their personnel has been overhauled from last season.

On Friday, nearly half of Lions fans believed the team’s offense will rank in the top five, averaging over 28 points per game. Now it’s time to predict how the defense will finish.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Where will the Lions finish the 2018 season in scoring defense (points allowed)?

My answer: There’s a few factors to consider. First, let’s look at where the Lions have finished since Ndamukong Suh left:

2015: 25.0 PPG (23rd)
2016: 22.4 PPG (13th)
2017: 23.5 PPG (21st)

Obviously, this defense hasn’t been all that good lately. However, a few months ago, we looked at every single defense Matt Patricia coordinated in New England, and the results were striking. Every single year, the Patriots ranked in the top 10 in points per game allowed. New England would give up varying amounts of yardage and would rank all over the place in DVOA, but in literally every season, they were—at worst—10th in points allowed.

Lastly, there’s the personnel. Detroit got rid of several starters in their front seven, but it’s unclear if they have really upgraded. The Lions’ defenders more clearly fit in Patricia’s zone-integrity scheme, but the talent level is still very much in question.

So add it all up together, and I think you’re going to see a very average defense in 2018. That will still be a small upgrade for Detroit, but many may view it as a letdown.

Matt Patricia has a very good track record in New England, but the one thing he has never really had to do is install his scheme and build a defense from scratch. There are going to be some growing pains there, but I think Patricia has the smarts to minimize the damage, and I expect the Lions to rank right around 16th in points per game allowed in 2018.

Your turn.

Poll

Where will the Lions’ scoring defense rank in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Top 5
    (39 votes)
  • 17%
    Top 10
    (344 votes)
  • 69%
    Middle of the league (11th-22st)
    (1343 votes)
  • 10%
    Bottom 10
    (197 votes)
  • 1%
    Bottom 5
    (22 votes)
1945 votes total Vote Now