Detroit sports bold predictions for 2023: Will any of these teams make the playoffs?

Detroit Free Press

The 2022 calendar year kept the status quo for many of our teams. It was the third straight year that none of the major pro teams in the Motor City — the Lions, Red Wings, Pistons or Tigers — reached the postseason in their respective teams. But for the second straight year, the Michigan football team won the Big Ten and reached the College Football Playoff. And the model of consistency, the Michigan State basketbal program, extended Tom Izzo’s streak of 24 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

One may think that because of upward momentum, or just sheer chance, some of these fortunes will turn around. Will we see a playoff game in District Detroit in the next 12 months? Can the Wolverines stay hot? Will the Spartans turn cold? Our sports writers peered into their crystal balls to tell us what will happen in 2023:

Lions draft RB Bijan Robinson

I don’t think predicting the Lions to make the playoffs in 2023 is very bold, or even getting a home playoff game. The Lions will be a popular pick to win the NFC North next fall. So I’m guessing the Lions use one of their two first-round picks on the best running back in the draft. Taking a RB in Round 1 isn’t usually a great use of resources, but the Lions are committed to putting the best supporting cast possible around Jared Goff, they haven’t run the ball effectively much of the year, and they have a general manager in Brad Holmes who experienced firsthand how a great back (Todd Gurley) can impact Goff’s play and the offense. The Lions need lots of defensive help, but Robinson to Detroit could be in the cards in 2023. — Dave Birkett

Pistons end up with a top-two pick

The Pistons, historically, haven’t had much lottery luck. The 2021 lottery, which saw them move up a spot to take Cade Cunningham first overall, is the lone exception. With Cunningham out for the season and the Pistons trending toward a bottom-three finish once again, they’re due for some luck again. Drafting Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson would be the final stamp on the rebuild they need to eventually become a contender. Based on their current pace, their odds to secure a two-two pick should be high. — Omari Sankofa II

Mel Tucker, MSU football recover in 2023

The impact changes Mel Tucker made during the early signing period pay off. Improved offensive line play with the retention of Nick Samac and J.D. Duplain along with additions via the high school and transfer ranks allows Payton Thorne to feel less pressure and creates more of a run game that was lacking throughout 2022. Defensively, the play in the trenches improves with better health and a major infusion of talent. Their schedule is difficult, but the Spartans recover from a disastrous 5-7 season to make an 8-4 turnaround to get back to a bowl game for the second time in Tucker’s four seasons. — Chris Solari

Lottery joy to the Red Wings

The Red Wings are way more fun to watch this season, but it remains clear they need a superstar in order to become contenders. I predict they will again struggle to win games down the stretch, but won’t suffer the blowouts that tarnished them the final couple months last season. The Wings will finish a respectable 11th from the bottom in the NHL — good enough to get them into the draft lottery, and, this time, they win it. (Call it make-up karma from 2020, when they had the worst record in the NHL and the best odds for the first overall pick, only to get pushed back to fourth — while the New York Rangers went from the playoff bubble to picking first.) That will give general manager Steve Yzerman the right to choose first among a cornucopia of skilled centers, including Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli and Leo Carlsson. Then onto the playoffs in 2024! — Helene St. James

Tigers’ Tork, Greene go separate ways

The Tigers hit rock bottom in 2022. They boasted about postseason aspirations only to win 66 games and finish fourth in the American League Central. Can’t get much worse, right? Exactly. The Tigers, under new president of baseball operations Scott Harris, should experience a slight improvement in 2023, though not enough to compete for a playoff berth. Some veterans will revert to career norms, while the pitching staff won’t suffer as many injuries. But most of the national focus surrounding the Tigers will be fixated on Miguel Cabrera’s final season rather than the overall product on the field. The bold predictions: Riley Greene, a sign of hope for the future, makes his first All-Star Game in his first healthy and full MLB season, and Spencer Torkelson, a potential reminder of Al Avila’s failed rebuild, spends more time in Triple-A Toledo (unless he changes his swing mechanics). — Evan Petzold

Michigan basketball falls short of NCAAs

The Wolverines’ NCAA tournament streak will end. After making the second weekend for five consecutive seasons, Michigan will miss the tournament for the first time in the Juwan Howard era. Hunter Dickinson and Jett Howard continue to operate as the team’s 1-2 punch and Kobe Bufkin’s recent emergence as a third option is a welcomed sign. But there hasn’t been enough beyond that. Dug McDaniel is a spark plug, but still just a freshman. Tarris Reed Jr is talented, but raw. Joey Baker hasn’t provided as much shooting as the team had hoped and with Jaelin Llewellyn out for the year, the guard depth isn’t there. The Wolverines missed out on some non-conference signature wins and while they’ll be .500 in league play, it won’t be quite enough to move out of the “first four out.” — Tony Garcia

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