Best and worst case scenario for 2022

Welcome to FanSided’s 2022 NFL preview! It’s time to look into our crystal football and take a glimpse at the Detroit Lions season prediction.

The Detroit Lions were the last winless team in the NFL last year, opening 0-8 and eventually landing at 0-10-1. But the offense improved late, and a group of players who gave great effort to Dan Campbell and his coaching staff went 3-3 down the stretch.

Detroit Lions 2021 season in review

  • 3-13-1
  • 4th Place, NFC North
  • Didn’t Qualify for Playoffs

The 2021 season was the start of another rebuild in Detroit, as general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell picked up the pieces left behind by the Matt Patricia era.

Expectations were naturally not high, and the Lions delivered with a dismal start. But players did not quit on Campbell, and the results got better down the stretch. All in all, the outlook in Detroit is brighter than it’s been in awhile.

Detroit Lions NFL Draft class 2022

  • Rd 1: Aidan Hutchinson, DE/Michigan
  • Rd 1: Jameson Williams, WR/Alabama
  • Rd 2: Josh Paschal,DE/Kentucky
  • Rd 3: Kerby Joseph, S/Illinois
  • Rd 5: James Mitchell, TE/Virginia Tech
  • Rd 6: Malcolm Rodriguez, LB/Oklahoma State
  • Rd 6: James Houston, DE/LB, Jackson State
  • Rd 7: Chase Lucas, CB/Arizona State

Previewing Detroit Lions offense for 2022 season

  • Key offseason additions
    • DJ Chark, WR
    • Jameson Williams, WR
  • Biggest X-Factor: D’Andre Swift
  • Squeakiest Wheel: Jared Goff

The Lions made an effort to add weapons around quarterback Jared Goff this offseason, signing DJ Chark to a “prove-it” deal and making an aggressive move up in the first round of the draft to get Jameson Williams. Williams suffered a torn ACL in January’s national title game, but when he’s able to play he should be a must-watch.

Elsewhere at wide receiver is Amon-Ra St. Brown, who had a star-making (and fantasy league-winning) run to end his rookie season last year. He is a solid bet to still be the Lions leading receiver this year.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson has topped 60 catches in back-to-back seasons, but he appears to have a higher level in him as he looks for a long-term deal.
But the player who will drive the Lions’ offensive ceiling this year is running back D’Andre Swift. Already one of the best pass-catching backs in the NFL, he’s being challenged to reach his full potential after missing some time in each of his first two seasons. Behind Swift is the capable Jamaal Wiliams.

It’s hard to tab a “squeakiest wheel” who I’m not sold on and would be a pleasant surprise in the Lions’ offense. But I have to go with Jared Goff, who has to prove his better run late last season can be carried into a new season with a better situation around him. His future in Detroit is not likely long, but his future as an NFL starter anywhere depends on what he does this year

Previewing Detroit Lions defense for 2022 season

  • Key offseason additions
    • Aidan Hutchinson, DE
    • Josh Paschal, DE
    • Malcolm Rodriguez, LB
    • DeShon Elliott, S
  • Biggest X-Factor: Aidan Hutchinson
  • Squeakiest Wheel: Jeff Okudah

Hutchinson, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, is the marquee addition here and of the Lions’ offseason on the whole. The unit can’t be much worse than it was last year by any measure you can find, sacks/pressure, run defense, takeaways, etc. If nothing else, the depth is better here and the defensive coaching staff (Aaron Glenn, Aubrey Pleasant, Kelvin Sheppard) will get the best everyone has to offer.

Hutchinson’s fellow rookie Rodriguez could be put in the X-factor category too. He’ll be a starting linebacker sooner rather than later, and he only fell to the sixth round of the draft because of flimsy concerns about size.

The previous Lions’ regime took Okudah third overall in the 2020 draft. He has only played 10 games in two seasons, with an Achilles tear in Week 1 last year ending his season before it really started. It’s now or never for Okudah to stay healthy and show he can be a starting-caliber NFL cornerback, or another rough season will pave the way for him to get a change of scenery in 2023.

Detroit Lions coaching staff overview

  • Head Coach: Dan Campbell
  • Off. Coordinator: Ben Johnson
  • Def. Coordinator: Aaron Glenn
  • 2023 Head Coach Candidate: Aaron Glenn

Dan Campbell has assembled a staff filled with former NFL players, like he is.
Johnson was tight ends coach, and he took over as passing game coordinator late last season. He parlayed that success (with better play from quarterback Jared Goff) into the offensive coordinator gig.

Glenn interviewed for two head coaching openings after the 2021 season, and he’s sure to resurface in the interview cycle when the 2022 season concludes. It’s a matter of time before he’s a head coach, and it may be in 2023.

Running backs coach Duce Staley is also a potential future head coach. Defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant is a rising star in the assistant coaching ranks, and likely once he takes the next step to a defensive coordinator post a head coaching job seems to be in his future too.

Detroit Lions Awards Watch

It’s hard to say any Lion, at least this side of rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson for Defensive Rookie of the Year, is a top candidate for any award this year. But never say never.

D’Andre Swift, MVP

Along the lines of him being the x-factor for the Lions offense this year, Swift could put up the kind of numbers that would put himself somewhere in the MVP conversation. Running backs don’t often win league MVP anymore, and they have to put up transcendent numbers to do so. Swift is one of the better pass catching backs in the league already, and if can take a prominent step as a pure runner some down-ballot MVP votes could come.

Aidan Hutchinson, Defensive Rookie of the Year

Hutchinson, the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft who landed with his hometown team, is among the betting favorites for Defensive Rookie of the Year. If he can get to double-digit sacks, while being an immediate tone setter for the entire Lions’ defense, he may pay off the bets and take home the award.

Dan Campbell, Coach of the Year

If the Lions win a lot more games this year, and dare I say finish above .500 and/or make playoffs, Campbell will get some votes for NFL Coach of the Year. He’s a deep dark horse bet to win the award.

Biggest game on Detroit Lions schedule

Week 5 at the New England Patriots.

Yes, the Lions will face their former head coach Matt Patricia, who may be calling the offensive plays for the Patriots (that will surely go well, he says sarcastically).

But it’s also the game before a Week 6 bye for the Lions. The schedule coming out of the bye looks daunting (Cowboys, Dolphins, Packers). So going into the off week with a road win in a tough environment (or at least a good showing), and ideally, a record of 2-3 or 3-2, looks important.

Detroit Lions season prediction: Best case scenario

The Lions’ roster definitely looks better than it did a year ago. Doubling last year’s win total is an easy expectation, with more possible.
The Lions have not finished above .500 since 2017, Jim Caldwell’s final season as head coach. Their last playoff berth was the season before that, 2016. Both droughts certainly feel longer.

In an absolute best-case scenario for the Lions in 2022, they win nine or 10 games, get a Wild Card spot and win a playoff game. Above .500 might be enough to be a best-case scenario, but let’s go a little further for fun.

Detroit Lions season prediction: Worst-case scenario

A worst-case scenario for the Lions in 2022 would be rooted in injuries that thin a still-building roster. They simply will not win any games Jared Goff misses, with Tim Boyle or David Blough (barring an addition) having to step in to start under center. When Goff missed time last year, Boyle started all three games and the Lions went 0-3.

The Lions projected starting five offensive lineman didn’t play a snap together last season. Looking toward this year, any injuries to tackles Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell would be especially awful.

]The defense is line to be better, but there’s a lot of hope and projection ingrained there. If injuries and underperformance become prevalent, an ugly throwback to the awful defenses under Patricia would be in play.

Record-wise, a close repeat of 2021’s three wins would be a worst-case scenario for the Lions this year. Anything less than six wins would be a disappointment.

Detroit Lions season prediction for 2022

  • 8-9 record
  • 3rd place in NFC North
  • Playoff Prediction: Miss playoffs

The Lions have an easier schedule than they did last year, based on last year’s records and including never traveling further west than Dallas after trips to Los Angeles, Denver and Seattle last year.

Add an easier schedule to the talent on the roster being better, and the Lions make a push toward .500 in Campbell’s second season as head coach.

Read more from FanSided’s 2022 NFL Preview here. For more Detroit Lions coverage, check out SideLion Report. 

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