If you ever had a question on whether there is a vast difference between pre and regular seasons, note the Detroit Lions are favored over the Buffalo Bills tonight. The Bills are one of the true powers in the game after participating in back-to-back postseasons and advancing to the AFC Championship Game last January.
This is a team that hasn’t won a postseason game since 1991 and is now engaged with the ongoing ritual of introducing a new head coach. Dan Campbell makes his coaching debut after another disciple from the Bill Belichick tree, Matt Patricia, ends his dismal run that came in with so much optimism in 2018.
In less than three seasons at the helm, Patricia compiled a 13-29-1 mark and was dismissed with five games remaining in the 2020 season. Only Jim Caldwell ended his coaching tenure with a winning record amongst the most recent 13 sideline field generals in Detroit. That dates back nearly 50 years.
Still, Campbell comes to the Lions offering a new day and high hopes for the much maligned Lions. The new Detroit coach has 22 years of experience in the NFL, 11 as a player and 11 as a coach. He played tightend for a quartet of teams including three seasons with the Lions, 2006-2008. His coaching career includes 12 games as an interim head coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2015. He compiled a 5-7 mark in those dozen games with a Dolphins squad that many lobbied for him getting the permanent position. When he didn’t, he moved onto the New Orleans Saints and served as Sean Payton’s Assistant Head Coach.
He is both well prepared and actually arriving at just the right time. The Lions have had so many poor seasons in recent years that they have acquired a lot of top tier talent through the draft. They also made the boldest off-season deal, trading one-time first pick in the draft Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for another first pick in the draft quarterback, Jared Goff.
The move not only filled the Lions immediate need for a veteran quarterback with the departure of Stafford, but Goff brought with him a boat load of draft picks that could serve to truly vault this franchise to domination in the near future.
Domination on the field expected from the Lions?
Sure, this is only the preseason when everyone can list reasons their team has arrived or is on the cusp of greatness, but the Lions?
Maybe not yet the playoffs this year, but likely a record near .500 for the long suffering franchise. In the near future, two or three seasons out, I’m thinking the Lions will be among the elite in the NFC.
This is pretty lofty stuff I’m predicting for a Detroit Lions squad that has shown little life in recent years … but their future is bright with a good group in camp now, a new head coach that brings promise along with a stockpile of high draft picks.
It all adds up to spirited competition in the Lions camp, while the established Bills are just going through the exercise of getting into shape for the games that matter.
Tonight, it matters for the Lions, in September, it will first get the Bills attention.
Qoxhi Picks: Detroit Lions (-1½) over Buffalo Bills