For many moons, the Detroit Lions have been the laughingstock of the NFL. They were the Cleveland Browns of the NFC, the clowns of the circus, the little brothers of the Packers who just want to sit at the adult table on Thanksgiving – but not anymore. For two weeks the Detroit Lions showed life. They showed courage. They were enjoyable and they impressed many people across America. After Week 1 saw the Lions battle one of the NFC’s top teams, the Philadelphia Eagles, Week 2 saw the Lions take a big early lead over the Washington Commanders. As the commanders clawed their way back to bring the score back to single digits, most spectators agreed the Lions never really lost control. They looked solid.
Now, anyone who has watched the Lions in recent years could have told you that their record was not indicative of the real quality of the team. As of 2021, the Lions had the league’s second-worst record. However, they were also 1-6-1 in one possession games last year. It is not normal. You would expect a team to be around .500 in these situations. Detroit was not close. Add to that a healthier offensive line, improved passing game weapons and improved passing rush, and it’s no wonder the Lions suddenly look like kings in their jungle. They also have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, with 10 games against teams that were under .500 last season. Yeah, they’ll probably get smoked on national TV on Thanksgiving Day against the Buffalo Bills. This will probably turn a lot of people away from the Lions, but hey, the Rams were also smoked by the Bills on national TV and I don’t see anyone fading from the Rams right now.
Sports bettors are most intrigued by the Lions so far. All this week, the Lions have been the favorites in sports betting. On Tuesday, the Lions received 16.7% of the bets to win the Super Bowl. That tied them with the Bills for second, behind the Kansas City Chiefs, who received 25% of all Super Bowl bets. It’s shocking. When it comes to individual games, it’s normal to see bettors backing underdogs in hopes of massive wins. However, this almost never happens when it comes to league betting. The expression is “any Sunday”, not “any season”.
Hell, the Lions still aren’t expected to make the playoffs. According OddsChecker US, the Lions are rated at -350 to miss the playoffs, meaning they have a 77.8% chance of missing the playoffs. Despite their strong start, they still have +10,000 chances of winning the Super Bowl, which puts them tied for 23rd in the NFL with players like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Commanders. Should these ratings be higher? Absolutely, especially considering the Lions convincingly beat the Commanders in their home opener last weekend.
This is probably why so many people are inclined to bet on the Lions this week. They’ve noticed how badly the Lions have slapped Washington, and the fact that they’re still tied with the commanders in Super Bowl odds is a slap in the face to Detroit’s early-season accomplishments.
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It’s not just the Super Bowl odds that bettors love though. The Lions are the most backed underdog to win this Sunday, receiving 66.7 percent of moneyline bets as six-point underdogs to their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. Now, the Lions haven’t won in Minnesota since 2017, but I understand why so many people could see Detroit walking away with a victory this Sunday. The most obvious reason is how each team fared in their games against the Philadelphia Eagles. While neither team got out to a hot start, the Lions showed fight, clawing back to make it a close game by the final whistle. Meanwhile, the Vikings couldn’t get anything going. They looked outclassed against Philadelphia, like a deer in headlights — or Sam Darnold vs. Patriots. Based on the transitive property, that would be a slam dunk home run bet, right? Math has never failed us before, but we know better. We know that’s not how football works.
The Vikings should be a favorite, but I’m also glad to see that everyone is giving Detroit the credit it deserves. Detroit doesn’t have the same defense as Philadelphia, and we all know Kirk Cousins struggles mightily in prime-time games. So don’t expect a repeat of last week’s performance. This game should be a shootout, and as long as Irv Smith Jr. continues to drop some touchdown passesthe Lions will have a very good chance of moving above .500.