Now that the Super Bowl is over, it’s time for everyone to make their way-too-early predictions for the 2020 NFL season. A panel of ESPN writers gave their opinion on where the NFL is headed next season (ESPN Insider required), and one writer in particular made a bold pick in regards to the Detroit Lions.
ESPN’s national writer Jeremy Fowler, who earlier in the week reported that Darius Slay and the Lions were in contract extension talks, believes that Matthew Stafford will be the MVP of the 2020 NFL season:
“Mahomes is still the game’s best player, but Stafford was playing really good football before his midseason back issues,” Fowler wrote. “If he leads Detroit to contention, which isn’t so farfetched considering the talent around him, he’ll be in the MVP mix because he puts up numbers and the NFC North is as open as Kenny Golladay.”
This is a far cry from the numerous outlets that are somehow convinced the Lions are moving on from Stafford and a breath of fresh air when it comes to national coverage of the Lions quarterback. He rightfully acknowledges that Stafford was in the midst of a dominant season before his injury, ranking sixth in both passer rating and QBR. And he’s probably correct that if he can somehow lead the Lions to postseason and Super Bowl contention, it will turn a lot of heads.
But that’s where he takes a pretty big leap in logic. Fowler argues that because of the talent around him and because of the openness of the division, Stafford has a serious chance at making some noise. I’m not so convinced that the Lions’ roster is all that talented right now, and the NFC North was just one of two divisions to have three teams finish .500 or higher last year. This is a pretty steep climb for a Lions team that finished 0-6 in divisional play last year.
But Fowler wasn’t the only one intrigued by the Lions right now. When the panel was asked “Which team are you most interested in for the 2020 NFL Draft?” NFL analyst Field Yates picked the Lions, touting the theory that they control the destiny of many teams with that pivotal third pick in the draft, and it could lead to a major draft haul:
“The Lions pick third and could be an ideal trade-up slot for teams looking at the top quarterback prospects. It could lead to quite a haul for a team with several needs.”
It’s not much, but it’s always nice to see a little bit of optimism from the national outlets.