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NFC North Preview: The Lions look to bounce back in 2019

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With some help from our sister SB Nation sites that cover the other NFC North teams, we’re going to preview the Bears division rivals. First up the Detroit Lions with an assists from Pride of Detroit.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions haven’t won a division crown since they played in the old NFC Central back in 1993, but don’t be so quick to assume the 2019 version of the Lions is going to be bad. I’ve liked their offseason moves the last few years and if their young talent can take a step then the Lions could be a surprise playoff team this year.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford will try to bounce back from a sub par season, and if his offensive line can keep him off the turf and healthy he could very well do that. I was a big fan of Northern Illinois’ Kenny Golladay a couple years ago and he’s turned into a legit WR1.

A lot will hinge on if head coach Matt Patricia can get his defense to continue their upwards trend form a year ago, and if the new offense under Darrell Bevel can give Patricia the ground and pound style he wants. Tailback Kerryon Johnson will look to build off a fantastic rookie season where he averaged 5.4 yards a carry.

2018 Record: 6-10, last place in the NFC North

2018 Overall DVOA: 22nd

2018 Offense: 23rd DVOA, 24th Total yards, 25th points scored

2018 Defense: 28th DVOA, 10th Total yards, 16th points against

2018 Special Teams: 20th DVOA

For more on Football Outsider’s DVOA you can click here.

2018 record against the Bears: 0-2

In the first game Mitchell Trubisky lit up the Lions’ D during their week 10 match-up. He threw for 355 yards, which is his most ever, threw three touchdowns and ran for another TD in Chicago's 43-22 win. The Bears’ defense sacked Stafford 6 times as well.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

In the second game it was back up quarterback Chase Daniel that led the charge for Chicago’s offense in their 23-16 Thanksgiving Day victory. Chase threw touchdown passes to Tarik Cohen and Taquan Mizzell, but it was a late interception return for a TD by Eddie Jackson that sealed the game.

Let’s check in on what Pride Of Detroit has to say about the 2019 Lions.

Notable free agent additions: EDGE Trey Flowers, TE Jesse James, RB C.J. Anderson, CB Justin Coleman, CB Rashaan Melvin

Over/under: 6.5 wins -- Over. This team won six games last year--including a sweep of the Packers and a win over the Patriots and Panthers. There is no doubt the defensive roster is both more talented this year and more knowledgeable on Matt Patricia’s new scheme. The biggest questions remain on offense, but a promising rookie season from Kerryon Johnson plus a completely overhauled tight end room is enough to remain optimistic.

To me, there is no question this team is at least one win better than last season.

Rookie I’m most excited about: T.J. Hockenson -- If you have a top 10 pick, you better be excited about the guy. While there will be an endless debate as to whether any tight end is worth a pick that high, Hockenson fits exactly what Detroit is looking for in a tight end. He can block, he can catch. He can keep the defense guessing when he’s in the game, and coming from Iowa, he should be fairly comfortable in an NFL-style offense.

Flowers may not have eye popping sack numbers, but he’s a damn solid all around football player that fills a need on Patricia’s D. But their most important defender is probably defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison Sr., who still hasn’t been able to participate this offseason after a hold out. The Lions need his dominating presence in the middle of their defense.

Poll

How many games will the Lions win in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Under 6.5
    (250 votes)
  • 61%
    Over 6.5
    (404 votes)
654 votes total Vote Now