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NFL preview: Detroit Lions 2018 season record predictions, playoff projection

Out staff makes their record predictions for the Detroit Lions’ 2018 season.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

It is time. The Detroit Lions season kicks off on Monday night and it’s time to make our final preseason.

The Lions are coming off back-to-back 9-7 seasons, having made the postseason once in those two years. With a brand-new coaching staff, a revamped scheme on defense and a new commitment to the running game, is their trajectory up or down in 2018? It’s time for our staff to make some season predictions.

What will the Lions’ record be in 2018? Will they make the playoffs?

Ryan Mathews:


The NFC North received boosts all offseason long. The Packers added defensive line talent in Muhammad Wilkerson, and got the best quarterback in football, Aaron Rodgers, back. The Vikings were a running game away from potentially being the most complete team in the NFL last season, so with Dalvin Cook back and Kirk Cousins under center, they’re primed to be great again. And the Chicago Bears, they just fleeced the Oakland Raiders and added perhaps the best defensive talent in football not named Aaron Donald in Khalil Mack.

The Lions, with a new head coach in Matt Patricia, are likely to undergo growing pains. In what I think is undoubtedly the toughest division in football, it’s an uphill climb with loose footing for the 2018 Detroit Lions, and they stumble off their 9-7 record from a season ago.

Mansur Shaheen

8-8. The Lions have a great offense. Matthew Stafford is an elite QB, the running game should be better and the receivers are still great. Unfortunately, the defense is a mess. The entire front seven needs to improve and outside of Darius Slay and Glover Quin no one in the secondary looks very good either. Detroit has the ability to score 35 points every game this season, but they also might give up 35 points every game this season. We should be in a lot of fun, crazy, stupid shootouts this season. They will be fun to watch for neutral fans but a middling 8-8 year is most likely in the cards for Detroit.

John Whiticar

Week 1 Jets Win
Week 2 49ers Loss
Week 3 Patriots Loss
Week 4 Cowboys Win
Week 5 Packers Loss
Week 7 Dolphins Win
Week 8 Seahawks Win
Week 9 Vikings Loss
Week 10 Bears Loss
Week 11 Panthers Win
Week 12 Bears Win
Week 13 Rams Loss
Week 14 Cardinals Win
Week 15 Bills Win
Week 16 Vikings Loss
Week 17 Packers Loss

Final record: 8-8. No playoffs.

Hamza Baccouche

7-9, No playoffs.

I’m not sold on Matt Patricia, nor am I sold on the Lions this year. Yes, Matt Patricia’s defense takes a few weeks to reach its peak. Yes, the Lions have invested in the running game. Yes, the poor performances in the preseason were the Patriot Way: “testing” players and seeing what they can or can’t do.

I still have large concerns on both sides of the ball, however. Like I said previously, I won’t believe the running game until I see it. As for the defense, I fear that the performance in the preseason was much more than Patricia “testing” players and the roster cuts say it all. The Lions shed a lot of skin on defense to make room for players on waivers, as they clearly weren’t content with who they had. It’s going to be a work in progress and that may take much longer than the notorious six week learning curve the Patriots defense had. Unless the offense can pick up a LOT of slack, it’s going to be a long first two months of football in Detroit.

Kyle Yost

7-9, no playoffs. There will be sure signs of improvement over last season, but a better on-field product does not always relate to a better record. The Lions still have way too many issues to seriously contend for a playoff spot, and a better overall NFC North makes their road even harder. Unless Detroit is able to pull off weekly last-minute comebacks as in 2016, this team is nothing more than average at best.

Jeremy Reisman

8-8. No playoffs.

It’s a shame the Lions’ schedule is relatively tough in the first month or two of the season, because that’s when I expect this team to really struggle. The defense is going to be rough the entire season, but it’s going to be particularly bad early. If the Lions can somehow get to the bye week with a 3-2 record or 4-1—which isn’t really out of the question—they’re going to contend for a playoff spot.

But ultimately, there are two, maybe even three, more complete teams in the division alone. I wish this team was in the AFC South.

Jerry Mallory

“It’s just preseason. IT’S JUST PRESEASON.”

As many times as I’ve told myself this it’s still hard to shake how bad the team has looked, especially on defense. Because of this and the seemingly tough schedule I’ll go with 8-8.

Kent Lee Platte

I wanted to predict a Lions playoff berth here. Really did. Back in 2015 when the Lions hired Jim Caldwell, it was Matt Patricia that I was stumping for and was disappointed when he didn’t garner much interest, and the Lions took the stoic, anti-run game Caldwell.

Then I attended training camp and got overly hyped by the run game, and I felt like this could be the year. Each time I saw the defense, however, I had flashbacks to earlier in Stafford’s career. This team could cap out at the 2011 Lions, making the playoffs on the heels of an insane amount of QB production, but more likely they’re going to struggle as the defense tries to adjust to a new defensive scheme and simply lacks the depth to do so.

I think this team has the possibility of capping out at a 12-4, highly frustrating but magical season where they not only make it to the postseason but win an exciting playoff victory, but the rational, more scientific me sees a team that will be highly frustrating in the worst ways on the way to a 7-9 season, missing the playoffs after they were unable to overcome a slow start to the season but ending the year on a win streak that sets up a far more optimistic 2019.

Justin Simon

The Lions will go 9-7 and leave people wondering why exactly they hired Matt Patricia in the first place. I don’t expect them to make the playoffs, and I think it could be a really interesting offseason. If the Lions don’t show immediate improvement this season over the last regime Bob Quinn will have a lot of tough questions to answer.

Levi Blue

9-7, and no.... and now I’m upset, thanks Jeremy!

Kellie Rowe

The Lions will finish 2018 with a 10-6 record. I’m being realistic about this season—but I do think Detroit will see a slight improvement from its back-to-back 9-7 seasons. While the team has made a handful of much-needed adjustments, like the addition of offensive lineman Frank Ragnow to provide consistency at guard and Blount to help out in goal-line situations, they may need a year to gel as a team. The Lions snatch up a wild card spot (See! Some positivity!), but lose in their first matchup.

Chris Perfett

7-9. I predicted this back in April and I still hold to it. Nothing I’ve seen since April—the draft, the preseason, training camp, moves around the NFC North—has done anything to change the final result. This is a very tough schedule and the Lions are certainly not equipped in the right positions to deal with it. For a team supposedly in a “win now” mode they aren’t acting like it. No playoffs.

Mike Payton

I know many Lions fans are ready to jump off a cliff and pour out their kook-aid after that preseason, Rodgers being healthy and Mack going to the Bears. I’m sticking with my gut though.

This team will be in the playoffs in 2018 with a 10-6 record. Why? It’s because this offense still has the potential to be the best offense in the entire NFL if everyone does their job.

If the Lions defense can bend and not break all year, this team can win enough games to get back to the postseason.


What will the Lions’ record be in 2018?

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