Lions’ Dan Campbell on being favored for first time in 24 games: ‘That doesn’t matter’

Detroit News

Allen Park — Who doesn’t love an underdog? For the first time in a long time, Detroit Lions fans don’t.

The Lions are favored in Sunday’s Week 2 matchup against the Washington Commanders by two points, marking the first time in 24 games — since Nov. 20, 2020 against the Carolina Panthers — that Detroit has entered a game as a favorite and snapping the longest underdog streak in the NFL.

But what does it mean to be favored? According to head coach Dan Campbell, absolutely nothing.

“Yeah, those things — I just try to tell these guys that all of that doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t. I mean, you’re supposed to win this, you’re not supposed to win this, you’re favored here — man, you’ve gotta play good,” Campbell said.

“We have to be better than we played last week. We have to — our details have to be much more precise, on point. The effort was fine, I mean — but man, the details and the discipline have to show up, because it doesn’t matter who you play, if you don’t do that, you’re not going to win.”

The Lions were a great underdog story — especially for gamblers — last season. Detroit was 10-7 against the spread in 2021, which is a big part of the reason why so many were high on the Lions entering this year. They were always close, but never close enough.

And that is, for the most part, the goal of this Lions season; to take them from a team that is close, to a team that closes. Prior to the start of the year, general manager Brad Holmes dictated how expectations have changed in Allen Park.

“When you say expectations, we just want to make sure that we’re aligned in terms of what the mentality is going to be, and just make sure that I think that we kind of laid the foundation that we’re going to compete and play really, really hard regardless,” Holmes said.

“… You don’t go into the games saying, ‘Well, we’re the underdogs and —.’ No, you’re going into the game saying, ‘Yeah, no, we’re going to win this game. And I think that’s the mindset that you’ve got to have. And I think Dan’s done a good job making sure that that message has come across.”

Detroit was close last week — and covered the spread — in a 38-35 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. While the Lions were within a few plays of taking down one of the NFL’s best in their season opener, the facility this week is brimming with disappointment.

“As far as the game is concerned, (I’m) disappointed,” defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said. “Disappointed, but encouraged. Highly encouraged, and I say that because when you watch the tape, you see a group of men that came out very excited, probably overly excited, and some of the responsibilities kind of went out the window.”

On the one hand, there’s optimism for a group of young players who fell just short of pulling off an emphatic victory. On the other, there’s concern that outside opinion — which this season, uncharacteristically likes the Lions — can cloud the reality of where the team is and what it’s trying to accomplish.

“You have to appreciate the ‘want to,’ but sometimes that ‘want to’ can take you out of doing what you’re supposed to do as far as your job is concerned,” Glenn said. “You can get a little ahead of yourself, so — but I’m serious about it. I’m highly encouraged by some of the things that happened in that game.”

Clearly, so are the oddsmakers.

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

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