Last week, our own Mike Payton pointed out that it certainly seems like the world is falling in love with the Detroit Lions. This was off the heels of Dan Campbell being a betting favorite for Coach of the Year honors and ESPN’s Mina Kimes drinking the Honolulu Blue Kool Aid on NFL Live last Monday.
Well, over the past few days, several other national analysts have professed that they’ve been sipping a little Kool Aid of their own.
It started with former NFL offensive lineman Brian Baldinger, who tweeted out “Lions are going to be fun to watch in 2022” while providing a two-minute clip of him breaking down how impressive Detroit’s offensive line was last year.
“I think the Lions are going to put this all together,” Baldinger narrates over the video. “This is how you know they’re well-coached. Watch this moving amoeba right here against the Steelers. That’s a picket fence,” he said, admiring a screenshot of a wall created by Lions offensive linemen.
He concludes the tweet with a statement that will cause goosebumps.
“IF they can put it all together they are going to be playing important games in December for the first time in a long time. Year of the Lion?”
.@Lions are going to be fun to watch in 2022. Quietly they have been adding great talent and IF they can put it all together they are going to be playing important games in December for the first time in a long time. Year of the Lion? #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/6Qlw2qkbwb— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) May 21, 2022
Next in line in the Lions hype train is statistical analyst Warren Sharp. Over the past week or so, Sharp has been running advanced statistics on the 2022 schedule, like the amount of rest each team is getting compared to their opponents, as we referenced in this post. Last week, he joined the Bill Simmons podcast and referenced the Lions as a potential sleeper to win their division, thanks, in part, to a favorable schedule.
“One team that is interesting, although this would be a major longshot, and basically you’re needing something to fall apart with the Packers’ early schedule here, and that could potentially be the Detroit Lions coming out of nowhere,” Sharpe said. “We know that I really like their rest advantage, they also have the fifth-easiest schedule based upon who they play this season.”
Later he turns to some football reasons to support the Lions, starting with, of all people, Jared Goff.
“With reasonable enough coaching and level play, his stats are fine,” Sharp added. “They added a lot of pieces around him, and one of the most important things for a quarterback, especially one that we don’t love, is a good offensive line, good protection, and that’s one of the things that they really have there.”
Finally, there is NBC Sports’ Peter King, who dropped his initial 2022 power rankings on Monday. King, who recently visited Detroit for a story not yet released, ranked the Lions 20th overall—far above where most analysts have them at this point.
“I did some reporting on the Lions in Detroit this month, and I’m higher on them than most,” King explained. “Consider how hard they played in a disastrous rookie year of coach Dan Campbell, and how, despite winning only three games, they were 11-6 against the spread, indicative of a team outperforming expectations.”
One important thing to note about all three of these national analysts is that they all hedged their support of Detroit to varying degrees. Baldinger put “IF” in all-caps for a reason when saying “IF they can put it together...” Sharp admits the Lions are a “major longshot” to win the division and only will if something collapses with the Packers. Even King notes “it’s Goff who has to be more productive for the Lions to play meaningful December football.”
Still, the attention to what Detroit is building is nice. Every year there always seems to be a rogue analyst or two who picks the Lions as a longshot to improve, but it hasn’t felt this widespread in quite some time. I’ll leave King with the last word:
“This is one of the most interesting teams in football—and, their starved fans hope, for the right reasons.”