2008-09 Detroit Lions Team Preview – Schedule – Betting Odds

Detroit Lions 2008 Season Preview - Betting Odds
by Badger of Predictem.com

2007 Record 7-9 (6-9-1 ATS)

Stadium: Ford Field
Head Coach: Rod Marinelli (3rd Season 10-22)

Current 2008 Super Bowl Odds 80-to-1 at Bovada.

Training Camp Site: Detroit Lions Training Facility, Allen Park, Mich.
Training Camp Dates: July 23 August 16

Last season the Detroit Lions had one of the most disappointing 7-9
records in the NFL. Sure, at 7-9 they are all depressing, but the
Lions ended there after sprinting out of the gates with a 6-2 record
at midseason.

The bottom fell out in the second half thanks in part to the NLFs
worst defense (32nd - 377.6 ypg and 27.8 ppg allowed) and no running
game (31st 80.5 ypg) to help take the heat off of Jon Kitna.

Head coach Rod Marinelli and GM Matt Millen (who somehow still has a job?) gutted the team quickly in the off-season. Marinelli swapped
offensive coordinator Mike Martz and his pass-first offense, for new
play-caller Jim Collettos simpler, run and play-action schemes.
Millen let nine players walk away in free agency and brought in fresh
faces in return, as the Lions were active in player activity in the
off-season.

Whos In/Whos Out

The Lions let a host of their bigger-named players walk away after last years collapse, especially on the defense with tackle Shaun
Rodgers (Browns), end Kalmba Edwards (Oakland), linebacker Boss
Bailey (Denver) and corner Fernando Bryant (Patriots).

They also lost running backs Kevin Jones (Bears) and T.J. Duckett (Seahawks) and center Damien Woody (Jets) on offense.

The Lions made an effort to fix one of the NFLs worst pass defenses
(31st - 258 ypg allowed) on the free agent market, by going out and
getting corners Brian Kelly (from Tampa) and Leigh Bodden (from
Browns) and safeties Dwight Smith (from Vikings) and Kalvin Pearson (from Tampa).

The Lions first three draft choices from their 10-player 2008 class
were handed a starting role the same minute they were handed a
jersey, as offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (1st Boston College),
linebacker Jordan Dizon (2nd Colorado) and running back Kevin Smith
(3rd Central Florida) will all be counted on to contribute
immediately. A majority of their second day picks were spent on
defense, as DTs Andre Fluellen (Fla. State) and Jason Shirley
(Fresno St.), LB Cliff Avril (Purdue) and DE Landon Cohen (Ohio) at
least add depth to teams weakest unit.

Offense

As stated above, the starting running back spot is Smiths to lose.
As a senior at Central Florida all Smith did was rush for 2,567 yards
(62 shy of Barry Sanders record) and 29 touchdowns, so the Lions
think they got their workhorse. But veteran Tatum Bell will push him
if the rookie has a hard time picking up blitzes and adjusting to the
NFL game.

I say picking up blitzes because Kitna was sacked 51 times in 2007,
the most in the NFL. But they also ran Martzs passing scheme which
leaves little protection for the quarterback, so moving first-rounder
Cherilus into the right tackle spot is expected to help just as much
as the switch to Collettos zone-blocking scheme. The rest of the O-
line (Jeff Backus, Dominic Raiola, Steve Peterman, Edwin Mulitalo)
returns in tact as well.

If Smith and the line can run the ball effectively and open up the
play action passing game, theres no doubt Kitna can throw it (over
4,000 yards in 2007). The Lions also have a stellar receiving core
anchored by starters Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. Tight end Dan
Campbell and free-agent pickup Michael Gaines (Buffalo) also give the
Lions two solid blockers/receivers for their short-yardage and double
tight-end packages.

Defense

The Lions went to work on the secondary of the unit, and for the first time in a while they might finally have the personnel to run
Marinellis Tampa Cover-2 scheme. With Kelly, Bodden and incumbent
Travis Fisher playing the press at corner, the Lions hope to re-route
the flow into safeties Smith, Pearson and Daniel Bullocks.

The Lions also have high hopes for second-rounder Dizon at middle linebacker, as the rookie joins starters Paris Lenon and Ernest Sims
to form a solid and speedy linebacking core.

The defensive line lost its best pass rusher in Rodgers, so they will need to find a way to make up the difference. Jared DeVries and
Dewayne White are solid ends, but neither possesses the type of pass-
rush presence that scares opposing defenses. Cory Redding will try
and keep blockers off the rookie Dizon, but the rest of the D-line
depth are either draft picks (as mentioned above) or totally unproven
in the NFL thus far.

Special Teams

Everything about the Lions special teams unit is veteran.

Seventeen-year veteran Jason Hanson is as solid as it gets at kicker,
especially indoors at Ford Field. Hanson, who made 29-of-35 (82.9%)
of his field goals with a long of 53 last year, still had 13
touchbacks on kickoffs last year, so his leg strength is still pretty
good.

Punter Nick Harris is also a solid vet with good length (36.4 net
ave.) and touch on the ball (26 inside the 20).

Returner Troy Walters is back again to catch punts, and with more fair catches (16) then returns last year (15 for 7.9 yard ave.),
thats all he really does is catch them. Look for backup RB Brain
Calhoun and backup WR Mike Furrey to get a shot at running back kicks
as well.

2008 Schedule

Sept. 7 at Atlanta Falcons
Sept. 14 GREEN BAY PACKERS
Sept. 21 at San Francisco 49ers
Sept. 28 Bye
Oct. 5 CHICAGO BEARS
Oct. 12 at Minnesota Vikings
Oct. 19 at Houston Texans
Oct. 26 WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Nov. 2 at Chicago Bears
Nov. 9 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Nov. 16 at Carolina Panthers
Nov. 23 TAMPA BAY BUCANEERS
Nov. 27 TENNESSEE TITANS
Dec. 7 MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Dec. 14 at Indianapolis Colts
Dec. 21 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Dec. 28 at Green Bay Packers

Betting Odds and Projections

With 80-to-1 odds to make it to the Super Bowl in 2008, the Lions are
clearly long shots. But this team is better than last years version,
which is a step in the right direction anyway.

The schedule maker was good to Detroit this year, as they will have relatively easy games versus Atlanta and San Francisco sandwiched
around a home game versus Green Bay before an early week 4 bye. That
will help to allow the offense more time to learn and adjust to their
new offensive scheme.

And if the Lions are somehow able to stay in the playoff chase into
late November, they will play four of their final six games of the
season at home on Ford Field, including the Thanksgiving Day game
versus the Tennessee Titans. The two away from Ford will be tough (at
Colts, at Green Bay), so the Lions will almost have to win the home
games to contend down the stretch.

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