GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Detroit Lions are riding high. After Sunday’s 41-38 road win over the Los Angeles Chargers, the Lions are 7-2 and have the second-best record in the NFC.
The team is well on the way to making its first playoff appearance since 2016 and on pace for one of its best seasons in decades. But the road to the Super Bowl is a long one, and the Lions have plenty of obstacles in their way.
Let’s take a look at what the data says to expect from the Lions as we head toward the final stretch of the 2023 season.
The Lions are in the driver’s seat for the team’s first-ever NFC North title — and first division title since 1993 — but they are not a lock to win the division.
After getting off to an ugly 1-4 start, the Minnesota Vikings have gotten going. Despite missing superstar receiver Justin Jefferson and losing quarterback Kirk Cousins to a season-ending injury, the team has ripped off five consecutive wins and sit just 1.5 games behind the Lions.
And Minnesota also has two key opportunities to take on the Lions and reclaim the division lead. The two teams will meet in Week 15 and Week 17.
And yes, the Lions are 7-2, but their record can be a bit misleading. According to Playoff Predictors, the team has been able to take advantage of a softer schedule to build its lead in the standings. The Lions are 5-0 against “below-average teams,” and just 2-2 against “above-average teams,” including their blowout loss in Baltimore and their overtime loss to Seattle.
The good news is their schedule looks fairly beatable until Christmas. The Lions host the 3-7 Chicago Bears and 3-6 Green Bay Packers before heading to New Orleans (5-5) with three days of extra rest. The team has a road tilt against the Bears and a home game against Denver (3-5) before the three toughest games remaining on their schedule: a home-and-home with the Vikings and a primetime game against the Cowboys deep in the heart of Texas.
The projections are split on the Lions. Some outlets expect the team to cruise into the playoffs with a solid record.
SportsLine — with CBS Sports — projects the Lions to finish the season 12-5 (estimated 11.9 wins). That would be the Lions’ first 12-win season since 1991 — yes, the last year they won a playoff game. SportsLine also gives the Lions a 98% chance of making the playoffs and an 84% chance of winning the NFC North.
Playoff Predictors is a little less bullish. Its data estimates the Lions will most likely finish 10-7 (estimated 10.2 wins), a slight edge over the Vikings (estimated 9.6 wins). Playoff Predictors has the Lions as the No. 3 seed in the NFC, behind Dallas — not the Philadelphia Eagles — for the NFC East and the San Francisco 49ers from the NFC West.
Will Dan Campbell and the Motor City Kitties keep rolling? Or will something slow down this magical season? We will see how the season plays out.
The Detroit Lions return to action on Sunday, hosting the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox.