After the NFL schedule release a few weeks back, I did something I usually never like to do. I gave a way too early record prediction. I predicted the 2023 Detroit Lions to finish the season with a 12-5 record and a division title.
There are a lot of reasons I went with this prediction. It wasn’t because of great free agency and a great draft. Those reasons matter and will have an impact, but for me, the biggest impact is that the Lions will spend a ton of time indoors in 2023. The Lions will play 12 of their 17 games under a dome or retractable roof this coming season. Even better, of their nine games after their Week 9 bye, eight of them will be indoors. That means no snow or cold weather outside of a trip to Chicago in Week 14.
Why is this such a big deal? Because the Lions may be the very best indoor team in the NFL.
The Lions averaged 403.4 yards and 29.9 points per game in indoor games last season. That’s right up there at the tippy top of the league at first in yards per game and second at points per game. That offense got arguably better over the offseason when they upgraded both their running back and tight end corps. They’re also likely to be healthier among the offensive line this year. There’s no reason to believe that this team can’t go out and top last year’s numbers. Even if they equal them, this was the fifth-highest scoring offense last year overall.
The flip side to all of this is that the Lions weren’t that great outside last season. They’re going to have to play outside in 2023. There’s just no getting around it. While the Lions averaged a not so bad 337.2 yards per game (15th), they only managed to score 20.8 points per game (15th). That’s quite a drop from the almost 30 points per game that they were putting up indoors, but it’s also a relatively small sample size of six games. And five of those six games came in November and December. Oh boy, this is turning into a weather article isn’t it?
Did any of this lead to big marks in the wins and loss category? Not exactly. The Lions were 5-6 indoors and 4-2 outdoors, but last season isn’t really the best season to draw a conclusion from since there were two halves of the season. Detroit got hot in the second half of the season, and while they were 5-6 indoors, all five of those wins came in the second half of the season when the Lions were 5-1 down the stretch in indoor games. Early in the season, the Lions’ indoor offense was still very good, but it was their defense that cost them games.
The Lions weren’t the only team allowing points indoors last year. The Raiders, Vikings, Chargers, Saints, Seahawks and Bears all finished last season in the top 10 of teams that allowed the most points indoors in 2022. The Lions play all of those teams in 2023. You, of course, have to adjust for the fact that the Lions aren’t the only team that got better on defense this offseason. That said, the Lions were and should continue to be better on offense than all these teams, so that should give the Lions a leg up.
With all if this in mind, the Lions should be a very dangerous team next year, especially down the stretch when it counts the most. That’s when the Lions should be getting ready to make a serious run at the division and a home (indoor) playoff game, and it just so happens to be a favorable run of indoor games for that explosive offense.