The Detroit Lions are carrying a lot of positive energy as they enter the 2022 season. Fueled by encouraging reports from training camp and HBO’s “Hard Knocks” shining a promising light on the organization, the Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid is flowing in Detroit.
In the opening week of the NFL season, the Lions will host the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field on Sunday, September 11 at 1 p.m. ET. And despite all the optimism surrounding the Lions, as of Tuesday morning, they are four-point underdogs to the Eagles according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
With all the changes in the offseason, Week 1 odds still typically take into account how teams played last season, and when the Lions hosted the Eagles on Halloween in 2021, the results were downright scary, as Philadelphia trounced Detroit 44-6.
“It was an embarrassing loss,” coach Dan Campbell said at his Monday press conference. “They let us have it, they rubbed our nose in it, and listen man, they came in and did everything that they wanted to do they did to us times 10... Now, they’ll have a couple of tweaks here and there, but I mean, I would fully expect them to come in and see if we’ve fixed our problems. And so, we understand that that’s where we’ve got to be better at. And we understand the opponent that’s coming in. This is a good football team that we’re getting ready to play.”
Last season, the Eagles finished 9-8 and made the postseason but lost handily in the first round to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This offseason, they were aggressive in adding talent to the roster in hopes of not only getting back to the playoffs but being able to be competitive as well. Some of the big moves included trading for wide receiver A.J. Brown and safety Chauncy Gardner-Johnson, while also drafting Georgia defenders defensive tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean.
Losing to the Eagles in such an embarrassing fashion created a pivotal learning opportunity for the Lions' coaches and led them to harsh conclusions that ultimately changed the direction of the franchise. One of the most notable decisions made following the loss included shifting play-calling duties from then-offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to Campbell, along with the promotion of now-offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.
“I do think that was somewhat of a turning point last year,” Campbell continued. “It opened our eyes to some things and I think it forced us to have to make some changes on both sides of the ball. We had to do things differently because where we were going wasn’t going to get it cut. So yeah, I mean it’s somewhat a blessing in disguise I guess. You make the most of something that’s a negative, you turn it into a positive and I felt like we did that to a certain extent.”
Today, the Lions look like a completely different team than the one that faced the Eagles last season, but have they taken enough steps forward to exact some revenge? We will find out on Sunday.