The Detroit Lions enter the 2023 NFL season on a wild hype train of high hopes and expectations after finishing strong last year, winning five of their final six games. Jared Goff looked like Detroit’s quarterback of the future, and Dan Campbell proved that he’s much more than a barbaric man who wants to do bodily harm to his opponent. We’ll find out fast how real this Lions squad is as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 as the Thursday night season opener.
That’s right, folks are floating through the universe, picking the Lions to seriously contend in the NFC this season. Some think they’ll win the NFC North and possibly the entire conference. Yes, the Detroit Lions in the Super Bowl. Talk about a bold pick. It would certainly be a first because they’ve never advanced that far in the modern era of football. The Lions hold four NFL championships from before the AFL-NFL merger but no appearances in the Super Bowl.
One of the most significant factors in Detroit’s expected rise has nothing to do with them and everything to do with Aaron Rodgers leaving the division. From ‘08, when Rodgers became the full-time starter in Green Bay, to last year, he racked up a record of 59-24-1 against the division. He posted an impressive 18-8 record against Detroit during that time. It’s not as dominant as Rodgers’ stranglehold over the Chicago Bears (24-5), but it’s still pretty incredible.
With the North considered wide open, the Lions are considered favorites to take the crown, although it was the Minnesota Vikings last season. For whatever reason, very few think the Vikings can repeat as NFC North champs. The Lions and Vikings won’t play their first game against one another until Christmas Eve, with their second matchup taking place the final week of the season. That game could be for the division title and positioning within the NFC playoffs.
It’s tough to recall a time when the Lions were taken this seriously. That’s likely because there hasn’t really been one. Even when they had Matthew Stafford and prime Calvin Johnson, things usually fell apart or never got going. In the 90s, Barry Sanders was magnificent, but we knew to expect little from the team overall.
We’ll immediately find out whether this team is a real contender, or if we’ve had smoke blown up our you know what’s. A loss against the defending champs doesn’t automatically mean the Lions are frauds. They’ve got to compete and be in the game with a shot at winning. If they’re in it late with a chance, good fortune could be awaiting.
In Week 2, they get the Seahawks in Detroit, which isn’t viewed as a brutal matchup like Week 1, but Seattle did make the postseason last year. Seattle is a much more winnable game for Detroit in the eyes of most. What they cannot do is begin the season 0-2. The Chiefs are tough for any team, but with all this hype, the Lions must defeat the Seahawks at home. If they can’t, we’ll continue to look at them as the same old Lions.