Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Each week we ask questions of the most plugged-in Detroit Lions fans and fans across the country.
When optimism is flowing as strongly as it is in Detroit right now, it’s hard to gauge what realistic expectations are. For the Detroit Lions, the reality is they are a team coming off a 3-13-1 season—the second-worst record in the NFL. For most, that would mean expectations should be tempered for 2022 because just about anything would be considered an improvement from last year.
But at the same time, there are a few reasons to believe Detroit is poised for a more significant bump this year. It’s Year 2 under this new regime, which means the players and coaches will be much more comfortable with their surroundings and scheme. The Lions also finished last year by going 3-3 in the final six games, suggesting that by the end of the season, they were much better than a three-win team.
Perhaps one of the more compelling reasons to believe the Lions could take a huge jump in wins this year is their schedule. By several metrics, they have one of the easiest schedules in the league, and part of the reason for that is their division.
Both the Bears and the Vikings have new general managers and head coaches, which means there’s a certain amount of rebuilding going on with both franchises, even if they still have some talent on their roster. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers are still considered Super Bowl contenders, but they lost two key pieces this offseason in Davante Adams and Za’Darius Smith.
Last year, the Lions won two divisional games: their thrilling, last-second win over the Vikings and the season finale against the Packers (with Green Bay’s second string playing for the final two quarters). They were close to tallying another couple of divisional wins but lost on last-second field goals to both the Vikings in Week 5 and the Bears on Thanksgiving.
So with the perceived improvement from the Lions, and a bunch of moving parts in the rest of the division, how many wins will Detroit have in their six divisional games?
That’s one of this week’s questions in our Reacts survey. We’ll provide results later this week.
The other question this week revolves around Detroit’s unique situation regarding serious injury recovery. The Lions have a ton of players that either missed the end of the NFL or NCAA football seasons in 2021, and their 2022 season could be impacted. Jeff Okudah and Romeo Okwara are still recovering from torn Achilles. Jerry Jacobs, Jameson Williams, and James Mitchell are all recovering from torn ACLs. Amongst that group, who is most likely to have the best 2022 season?