For many moons, the Detroit Lions have been the laughingstock of the NFL. They’ve been the Cleveland Browns of the NFC, the clowns at the circus, the Packers’ little brothers who just want to get a seat at the adult table on Thanksgiving — but not anymore. Through two weeks, the Detroit Lions have shown life. They’ve shown grit. They’ve been enjoyable, and they’ve impressed numerous people across America. After Week 1 saw the Lions battle tough against one of the best teams in the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles, Week 2 saw the Lions jump out to a big lead early on the Washington Commanders. While the Commanders did claw their way back to bring the score within single digits, most onlookers agreed that the Lions never really lost control. They looked solid.
Now, anyone who’s been watching the Lions in recent years could’ve told you that their record wasn’t indicative of how good the team actually was. In 2021, the Lions had the second-worst record in the league. However, they were also 1-6-1 in one-possession games last year. That’s not normal. You’d expect a team to be about .500 in those situations. Detroit wasn’t anywhere close. Couple that with a more healthy offensive line, improved passing game weapons, and an improved pass rush, and it’s no wonder that the Lions are suddenly looking like kings in their jungle. They’ve also got one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, with 10 games against teams that were under .500 last season. Yeah, they’ll probably get smoked on national TV on Thanksgiving Day against the Buffalo Bills. That will probably turn a lot of people away from the Lions, but hey, the Rams also got smoked by the Bills on national TV and I don’t see anybody fading the Rams right now.
Sports bettors are the most intrigued by the Lions thus far. This whole week, the Lions have been a favorite at sportsbooks. On Tuesday, the Lions received 16.7 percent of bets to win the Super Bowl. That tied them with the Bills for the second-most, behind only the Kansas City Chiefs, who received 25 percent of all Super Bowl bets. This is shocking. When it comes to individual games, it’s normal to see bettors back the underdogs in hopes of massive payouts. However, that almost never happens when it comes to championship bets. The phrase is “any given Sunday,” not “any given season.”
Hell, the Lions still aren’t expected to even reach the playoffs. According to OddsChecker US, the Lions are listed at -350 to miss the playoffs, meaning they’re being given a 77.8 percent chance to miss the playoffs altogether. Despite their hot start, they still have +10000 odds to win the Super Bowl, putting them tied for 23rd in the NFL with the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Washington Commanders. Should those odds be higher? Absolutely, especially given the fact that the Lions beat the Commanders convincingly in their home opener last weekend.
That’s probably why so many people are inclined to bet on the Lions this week. They noticed how hard the Lions laid the smack down on Washington, and the fact that they’re still tied with the Commanders in terms of Super Bowl odds is a slap in the face to Detroit’s early-season accomplishments.
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It’s not just the Super Bowl odds that bettors love though. The Lions are the most backed underdog to win this Sunday, receiving 66.7 percent of moneyline bets as six-point underdogs to their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. Now, the Lions haven’t won in Minnesota since 2017, but I understand why so many people could see Detroit walking away with a victory this Sunday. The most obvious reason is how each team fared in their games against the Philadelphia Eagles. While neither team got out to a hot start, the Lions showed fight, clawing back to make it a close game by the final whistle. Meanwhile, the Vikings couldn’t get anything going. They looked outclassed against Philadelphia, like a deer in headlights — or Sam Darnold against the Patriots. Based on the transitive property, it’d be a slam dunk home run bet, right? Math has never failed us before, but we know better. We know that isn’t how football works.
The Vikings should be a favorite, but I’m also glad to see everyone giving Detroit the credit they deserve. Detroit doesn’t have the same defense that Philadelphia does, and we all know that Kirk Cousins struggles mightily in primetime games. Thus we shouldn’t expect a repeat performance of last week. This game should be a shootout, and as long as Irv Smith Jr. continues dropping sure touchdown passes, the Lions will have a pretty good shot at moving above .500.