The Detroit Lions kick off the 2021 campaign in just a couple of days now, and it will be truly the dawn of a new era in Detroit. Dan Campbell is heading the ship, and he brought a whole bunch of former players to teach this franchise what it’s like to prepare, what it’s like to practice, and in time, what it’s like to friggin’ win.
Of course, it’s going to take time. The Detroit Lions have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL, and that’s going to come in a full rebuild. And with youth come mistakes, but if you do all of the other things right, youth also begets growth.
The question is how much growth have we already seen from this roster and how much will we see by the end of the year.
Here are our predictions for the Detroit Lions’ 2021 record.
Ryan Mathews — 5-12, no playoffs
I think five wins for the Lions would be a successful first season for Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes no matter the calculus involved to get to those five wins. No playoffs for Detroit in year one of their rebuild, but they have the draft capital and cap space to potentially make things interesting a year from now.
Erik Schlitt — 6-11, no playoffs
With as much promise as I think this young group of players have, they’re going to have to take some serious strides to make noise this season. The good news, on the current roster, 31 players are under contract beyond 2021 and there are another 12 who have a restricted or exclusive rights contracts after the season, meaning only 10 of the 53 active players are on expiring contracts. The core of this team is going to get a lot of work in 2021 and it should help them in the future.
Kellie Rowe — 6-11, no playoffs
I think the Lions will go 6-11 this season and that’s being generous. There are just too many parts missing and other parts that need to gel. The boys in Honolulu blue are learning a new offense, and Aaron Glenn is trying to right a defensive ship that is careening toward the iceberg. BUT I am excited to watch the culture change that takes place in the face of this adversity. What will they take away from those losses?
Chris Perfett — 3-14, no playoffs
You should accept the copium and be ready. This is the first real time you’ve seen a Lions rebuild, a genuine rebuild, since the aughts. All other years between the sticks have been underperformance or teams with gashing holes; now the holes are everywhere. The process to dig Detroit out of the grave Matt Patricia dug for them will not be easy. Dan Campbell isn’t going to work miracles out here.
To that end, the schedule has given no favors to this Lions team. Best chance for wins comes against the Eagles, the Bengals and a split with the Vikings. Some teams with “down years” ahead of them still provide intolerable matchup problems for a Lions defense that cannot project coverage over the middle. You will not find respite. Jared Goff can be serviceable, but the wins he garnered in the past mean nothing here. The defense can easily lower him into a hole and he won’t have the tools to dig out.
Kyle Yost — 5-12, no playoffs
This team should be better, and that will play out in a couple surprise wins. But a fight for the playoffs is still a few years away, and that is only if the front office continues to draft well. Jared Goff is not the problem, and fans will be surprised as he puts the team in position to stay competitive despite no receiving corps. At the end of the day, though, there needs to be an overhaul on defense.
Jeremy Reisman — 5-12, no playoffs
Every time I hear someone from the secondary or a Lions coach talk about the upcoming season, I start to believe this team could way overperform current expectations. They are excellent hype men but also legitimate sources of optimism for the 2021 season.
Unfortunately, I just don’t get that same shot of hope from the offensive side of the ball. I came into the offseason with an open mind about Jared Goff, but training camp was not kind to him—or most of the offense. If the running game can finally get going, this team could eke out some extra wins, but I’ve been burned enough times to take that bet again.
John Whiticar — 3-14, no playoffs
This almost feels generous. I don’t see the Lions being favored in any NFC North or West games, and I’d be surprised if they emerge with two wins from those. Right now, the weakest teams appear to be the Falcons, Eagles, Bengals, and Broncos, but I have concerns about all of them. The Falcons still have a good offense, and if the secondary struggles, even an aged Matt Ryan without Julio Jones could carve them up. The Eagles are a big unknown with Jalen Hurts at the helm, but he has shown flashes. I think the Bengals are extremely underrated in 2021. The Broncos’ biggest weakness is quarterback, but if Teddy Bridgewater is even an average quarterback, that could be enough to elevate the Broncos. This team is closer to 0-17 than the playoffs.
Mike Payton — 5-12, no playoffs
It’s not going to be good. It’s hard to judge the 2021 Lions because we really haven’t even seen the 2021 Lions. Barely anyone played in the preseason beyond two drives. That’s if they played at all. We don’t know what the offense will do and we don’t know what the defense will do. They could shock everyone and be good. But, looking at this team on paper doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. With that in mind, I predict the Lions will go 5-12 and miss the playoffs in route to a top five pick.
Andrew Kato — 5-12, no playoffs
Hamza Baccouche — 3-14, no playoffs
This roster is so young and undeveloped and uncoordinated. I would like to see this team make some progress throughout the season and show some fight in games later in the schedule, but man it’s hard to have any hope for this year from how things have looked so far. At least we have a really good punter.
I’ll be posting a video before the season starts with the Lions full season prediction along with the rest of the NFL. Stay tuned!
What will the Lions’ record be in 2021?
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