Over or under? Detroit News writers predict 11 Lions prop bets

Detroit News

Around this time every year, just ahead of the start of the NFL season, our inboxes are flooded with emails from gambling websites highlighting the latest prop bets from around the league. 

With Michigan legalizing sports betting this year, it seemed like a good time to look more closely at some of the Detroit Lions projections. I rounded up colleagues John Niyo, Bob Wojnowski and Rod Beard, and we offer our predictions on the nearly-dozen Lions-related props from BetOnline.ag.


Matthew Stafford passing yards: 4,274.5

► Niyo: Stafford essentially reached that total every season from 2011-17, and would’ve again last year but for the back injury. Prediction: Over

► Beard: In the eight seasons in which Stafford has played all 16 games, he’s been over that number five times — and was within 20 yards of it two more times. In many of those games, the Lions had to throw, which inflated the yardage, but this seems like an easy one. Prediction: Over

► Wojo: This will be close, but for the umpteenth time, I’m counting on an improved Lions running game. If Stafford ends up throwing much more, that’s not necessarily a good sign. Prediction: Under

► Rogers: There’s no such thing as easy money, but this one might be the closest thing to it on the list. Obviously, Stafford has legitimate durability concerns that didn’t exist before this season, but if he’s healthy, he should smash the mark. It’s easy to forget he had a legit shot at 5,000 yards prior to last season’s injury. Unlike the previous offensive scheme, this one puts Stafford’s arm to good use with a downfield attack. Prediction: Over

Stafford touchdown passes: 26

► Niyo: Health is the key, but there’s too many big, sure-handed targets in the red zone not to rack up 30-plus passing TDs. Prediction: Over

► Beard: This one’s a little harder to call, because in theory, the Lions will have a better running game with D’Andre Swift and a healthy Kerryon Johnson. Stafford has surpassed 26 four times in eight full seasons, along with 19 in eight games last year. Prediction: Over

► Wojo: Again, diversity is the key. Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn are determined to prove they have a sustainable ground game, and pounding it from inside the 5 is part of it. Prediction: Under

► Rogers: With all the pass-catching talent on the roster, the answer should be an emphatic over, but the Lions have been far from automatic in the red zone in recent years. The biggest issue is a lack of a third option near the goal line. Unless one emerges (looking at you T.J. Hockenson), this one will be tight. Prediction: Under

D’Andre Swift rushing yards: 670.5

► Niyo: Injury setbacks in camp didn’t help, and with no offseason runway for the rookie it may take some time to get up to speed. Prediction: Under

► Beard: If Swift can stay healthy and lives up to the initial hype he’s getting, this should be an easy over. It amounts to only 42 yards per game, assuming he plays all 16. Prediction: Over.

► Wojo: I love Swift’s talent and potential, but missing time in camp will slow him a bit. Rookie backs can make an impact, so this will be fascinating to watch. Prediction: Under

► Rogers: Muscle injuries in the upper leg have a tendency to linger, and with all the missed practice reps, the role will likely be limited early in the year. Swift might have a bigger impact as a receiver than on the ground as a rookie. Prediction: Under

Kerryon Johnson rushing yards: 645.5

► Niyo: Johnson is determined to prove his durability — as well as his value — and I think he’ll do just that early in the season.  Prediction: Over

► Beard: Johnson almost hit this number as a rookie, playing in only 10 games, with only seven starts. One can imagine several two-back sets that the Lions could run with Johnson and Swift. This seems like an easy choice, but taking health into consideration, it’s not as simple. If Swift catches on quickly, it’s a tough call. Prediction: Under

► Wojo: I’m still bullish on Kerryon, who’s also bullish on himself. The knee brace gives him confidence, and the Lions give him first shot at carrying the ball. Prediction: Over

► Rogers: Johnson got few favors from his blocking last year, seeing his efficiency drop from 5.4 yards per carry as a rookie to 3.6 last season. And it’s a tough bet for a guy that’s lost major time to knee injuries each of his first two years. Maybe it’s overly optimistic to believe committing to a knee brace could be the difference, but gut feeling says Johnson stays healthier in year three. Prediction: Over

Kenny Golladay receiving yards: 1,149.5

► Niyo: He’s a legit No. 1 and he’ll be paid like one soon, but only four NFL wide receivers topped 1,200 yards last season and Stafford has too many other options. Prediction: Under

► Beard: Last season, Golladay had a career-best 1,190 and seemed to be making a name for himself in his first Pro Bowl selection. Does the running game open more for him? The run-pass balance hurts his numbers. Prediction: Under

► Wojo: Golladay has blossomed into an elite receiver, and with Stafford’s proficiency on deep balls, the production will rise. Prediction: Over

► Rogers: Golladay established himself as one of the league’s best receivers last year, and followed that up with a fabulous camp, but my concern here is there is too much talent on the roster. As long as the Lions stay relatively healthy, they won’t have to lean so heavily on any one player. Prediction: Under

Golladay receiving touchdowns: 8

► Niyo: A full season with Stafford should be enough to rack up double-digit TDs again. Prediction: Over

► Beard: With 11 touchdowns last season, Golladay showed that he can be a weapon, even when the Lions aren’t in the red zone. He’s still a mismatch in short-yardage situations. Prediction: Over

► Wojo: He won’t hit last year’s total of 11, but he’s big enough and fast enough to score from anywhere on the field. The NFL will know all about Golladay by the end of the season. Prediction: Over

► Rogers: After leading the league with 11 scores in 2019, opposing defenses are going to give him extra attention in the red zone this year. If there’s a flaw in his game, the bigger-bodied Golladay doesn’t have the suddenness to get quick separation. He makes up for it with his top-tier ability to make contested catches, but if he’s blanketed by double-coverage on the regular, Stafford doesn’t have to force it and can work the ball to a mismatch elsewhere. Prediction: Push

Marvin Jones receiving yards: 860.5

► Niyo: Jones is in a contract year and looks ready to roll in camp, but a deeper receiving corps may erode his numbers. Prediction: Under

► Beard: Jones has reached higher than 860 just twice in his career and in his role as a complementary receiver, his production could be limited some. Last year, he had just 779 yard in 13 games. Prediction: Under

► Wojo: Jones is vastly underrated, so I guess I just added to that. But with so many options for Stafford to choose from, everyone can’t top 1,000. Prediction: Under

► Rogers: Healthy, I think Jones blows past this number. Even at the age of 30, he has the talent of a 1,000-yard receiver. And like Golladay, Jones has looked as good as ever throughout camp. But injuries have done him in each of the past two years and I can’t get past that concern. Prediction: Under

T.J. Hockenson receiving yards: 600.5

► Niyo: Hockenson flashed early, then flamed out quickly as a rookie. But he’ll be a more consistent threat in Year 2. Prediction: Over

► Beard: In his rookie season, Hockenson had 367 yards in 12 games, but didn’t live up to his potential as a No. 8 overall pick. His yards will be up this season, but 600 is asking a lot for an offense that should be fairly balanced. Prediction: Under

► Wojo: He’s bulked up, he’s healed up, he’s better than he showed last season. The Lions want to use the tight ends more, and Hock is the one they’re talking about. Prediction: Over

► Rogers: Obviously it was never sustainable, but Hockenson was on pace to top 600 yards by Week 5 after an electric debut. Observers understand tight end is one of the most difficult positions for a rookie to have early success, but there’s frequently a jump in consistency in their second season. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see him double his rookie production (32 catches, 367 yards). Prediction: Over

Trey Flowers sacks: 9

► Niyo: He’s never had more than 7.5 sacks in a season, but last year he was coming off surgery and finished with a flourish. Prediction: Over

► Beard: Well, Flowers never has had more than 7.5 sacks in a season in his career, so this seems like wishful thinking. Very wishful thinking. Prediction: Under

► Wojo: Flowers was better than people realized, but the sack totals are never gonna be gaudy in Patricia’s defense. That need to change, but most likely, the sacks will be spread around. Prediction: Under

► Rogers: Flowers racks up quarterback hurries and hits in bunches, but he’s yet to translate that to elite sack production. As my colleagues note, this optimistic line is north of his previous career-high, and while I think there’s a realistic chance it all comes together for the 27-year-old edge rusher, I can’t recommend betting against such an established trend. Prediction: Under

Jamie Collins sacks and interceptions combined: 7.5

► Niyo: He’ll be all over the field in this defense, so don’t be surprised if he matches last year’s production in New England. Prediction: Over

► Beard: This has the looks of a sucker bet — or one by someone with extreme optimism that Collins will break out. Could happen, but likely not, because the only time he’s topped 7.5 in his career was last season. Prediction: Under

► Wojo: At 30 with experience in the Patriots system, Collins is exactly the type of veteran who can flourish in a new place without an extensive offseason. He’ll help Flowers, and vice-versa.  Prediction: Over

► Rogers: Collins is going to play a lot. Remember, he’s effectively replacing Devon Kennard and the former Lions linebacker got more than 800 snaps each of the past two seasons. With 800 snaps in New England last year, Collins combined for eight sacks/interceptions. With at least one pick each of the past seven seasons, he’ll need to drop the QB seven times sacks to secure your payout. Prediction: Over

Lions wins: 6.5

► Niyo: The NFC North is up for grabs, and the Lions’ continuity on offense gives them a huge boost in a year where many teams are playing catch-up. Prediction: Over

► Beard: The NFC North isn’t as daunting as normal and in the midst of a pandemic, throw all the other stuff out the window. I’m not saying they’ll make the playoffs, but the Lions will make some noise. Prediction: Over

► Wojo: The Lions have more than enough pieces to be productive offensively, especially if Stafford is as primed and motivated as he appears. On defense, Patricia has a lot of veterans, and should be able to dig up more answers. His job depends on it. 8-8. Prediction: Over

► Rogers: With respect to your record saying what you are, the Lions were better than a three-win team last year. Before Stafford went down, they went toe-to-toe with the eventual champion Chiefs and Packers on the road. With all things, health will dictate the success of these predictions, but six wins feels like the floor for this club. Prediction: Over

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