NFL: How the Lions Emerged as NFC North Favorites

darren cooper
By:
Darren Cooper
23/08/2023/
News
The American Football Balls

Highlights

  • Despite not winning a division title since 1993, the Lions are favored to win the NFC North this year.
  • Quarterback Jared Goff is coming off his best season as a Lion making the Pro Bowl.
  • Breaking down the Lions main challenger in the division.

The Detroit Lions hype train is still rolling. After winning five of their last six games last season, the Lions remain one of the talks of the NFL and are listed as the favorite to win the NFC North at most Michigan sportsbooks.

That’s right, we’re talking about the Lions. Caesars lists the Lions as +120 win win the division, BetMGM has them +135 while DraftKings says +140.

It’s a great trivia question, but the Lions have never won the NFC North Division. The last time Detroit won the division it was called the NFC Central and it was 1993. Back then current Lions coach Dan Campbell was playing running back and tight end for Glen Rose High School in Texas.

So why all the buzz about the Lions? 

Restoring The Roar

With first round pick Aidan Hutchinson having a great rookie season, the Lions defense created an identity last year as a tough, physical unit. They finished with 39 sacks and in the NFL, if you can consistently rush the quarterback, you’re in good shape.

Detroit finished strong, just missing out on their first playoff spot since 2016. Quarterback Jared Goff looked like the star he was out in Los Angeles with the Rams, throwing for 4,438 yards and 29 touchdowns and reaching the Pro Bowl.

Since then, the Lions were aggressive in the NFL Draft, grabbing Alabama speedster Jahmyr Gibbs out of Alabama to play running back and linebacker Jack Campbell from Iowa. The Lions will field one of the top offenses in the NFL with Goff at the controls and plenty of excellent targets including star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Getting Off To A Good Start

The Lions haven’t won an opener since 2017 and the NFL did them no favors by scheduling them in the prestigious NFL Kickoff game on Sept. 7 against the defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs. That’s the first game of the NFL season, and its usually a showcase for the defending champ to show off.

On one hand, it demonstrates the vibe that is going around that the Lions are expected to contend this year, but on the other hand, it’s arguably the toughest road game for any team in the NFL.

After going to Kansas City, the Lions return to Ford Field to play the Seahawks, a playoff team in 2022, and then the rebuilding Falcons. A 2-1 start is possible. Then things get interesting with a Thursday night game in Lambeau Field against the Packers. It’s the first division game of the year.

Looking at the NFC North

The Vikings won the NFC North last year, but are getting no respect from Michigan online sportsbooks. To be fair, the Vikings were lucky to win a lot of close games last year, and people will never be convinced that Vikings milquetoast quarterback Kirk Cousins is a big winner.

Green Bay is now in a transition phase moving on from star quarterback Aaron Rodgers (now with the Jets) and trying to rebuild their defense, and the once-proud Bears don’t growl much at all, making more headlines about building a new stadium than winning games.

It’s a situation where the Lions have the most coming back, the most talent and the most to play for. It’s been 30 years since the Lions hung a division title banner. This could be the year that streak ends.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.