The Detroit Lions had a disappointing 2021 season on paper. The team won only three games and got outscored by an average of 8.4 points per game. However, head coach Dan Campbell won the hearts and minds of the players in the locker room. Over the last month of the season, the Lions had a 2-2 record. They had a critical win over the playoff-bound Arizona Cardinals in Week 15 and outscored by only one point during that span. After making several excellent moves this offseason, could the Lions sneak into the playoffs for the first time since 2016? Let’s dive into four bold predictions for the Lions.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Bold Predictions.
DJ Chark gets Traded by the Deadline
One of the first moves the Lions made this offseason was signing Chark to a one-year deal worth $10 million. The move was designed to give Chark a chance to rebuild his value and hit the free agent market again in 2023 after he missed most of last season with an ankle injury. However, the Lions also re-signed Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds this offseason. While neither should keep Chark off the field, the addition of Jameson Williams is bad news for the veteran wide receiver. Once Williams is 100 percent healthy, Chark won’t get snaps over the rookie. Therefore, the Lions will likely move Chark and his team-friendly contract at the deadline to a contending team.
D’Andre Swift Leads All Running Backs in Receptions
Swift has always been one of the more underrated running backs in the NFL. He has dealt with some injuries during his first two years in the league. However, he’s been productive when on the field. After finishing 13th among running backs in receptions as a rookie with 46, Swift finished fourth last year with 62 despite missing four games with an injury. Swift was also on pace to lead all running backs in receptions last year if not for the injury that cost him four games.
Furthermore, Jamaal Williams will see his role decrease this season. After seeing nine targets in Week 1, Williams saw only 19 the rest of the year, averaging just 1.6 per game. Don’t be surprised if Williams is cut or traded before the start of the season. Even if Williams is on the team this year, Swift will see enough targets to lead the NFL in receptions among running backs.
Jameson Williams has Over 1,000 Receiving Yards
The main reason why Chark will get traded before the deadline is Williams. Despite several other needs on paper, the Lions traded up from pick 32 to pick 12 during the first round of the draft to secure the former Alabama star. Williams is coming off a torn ACL he suffered in the National Championship Game and might not be ready for Week 1. However, he will be a mismatch nightmare once he steps on the field at 100 percent.
Williams has elite speed and big-play abilities. He can take the top off a defense or burn them after the catch. With Amon-Ra St. Brown drawing the defense’s focus, Williams will have plenty of good matchups to take advantage of every week. Even if he only plays in 12 games as a rookie, Williams will finish the year with over 1,000 receiving yards.
The Lions Finish the Year as a Top 10 Defense
Detroit was one of the worst defenses in the NFL last season. They gave up the second-most average points scored per drive (2.54) and the second-most points per game (27.5). However, the defense played better in the second half of the year. Detroit’s defense held their opponents under 21 points in five of the final nine games. They also forced 12 turnovers during that span, including three in two separate contests.
More importantly, the Lions added several pieces on defense this offseason. They used the second overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on Aidan Hutchinson and their second-round pick on Joshua Paschal. The Lions also re-signed their sack leader from a year ago, Charles Harris, and their top safety, Tracy Walker. Furthermore, Detroit will also get back Jeff Okudah after he missed most of last year with a torn Achilles. Detroit also added Mike Hughes, DeShon Elliott, and Jarrad Davis in free agency. With Aaron Glenn leading the unit, the Detroit defense has the players needed to finish as a top 10 unit.
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