In the original “Dumb and Dumber,” Lloyd Christmas, as played by Jim Carrey, was madly in love with Mary Swanson, as played by Lauren Holly.
And in one of the iconic scenes of the film, Christmas expresses his feelings to Swanson, who isn’t exactly interested. But being a kind soul, she did offer Christmas a sliver of hope, giving him “one in a million” odds, to which Christmas excitedly replied, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”
The Detroit Lions are basically the Lloyd Christmas of the NFL; Lloyd loves Mary, the Lions would love to make the playoffs.
Right now, the New York Times playoff simulator gives the Lions a 1% chance of making the playoffs, and even if they win out and finish 8-8, there’s still only a 28% chance of the team sneaking in.
And this week’s road matchup against the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans is not exactly an ideal way to get an improbable Cinderella story going.
Lions without their leader
For starters, the team might be without Matthew Stafford, who suffered a rib cartilage injury in last week’s home loss against the Green Bay Packers. Chase Daniel came in to replace him and managed to pass for 29 yards on six attempts.
Stafford, who is known as a tough guy, tried to return to the game after the injury, warming up on the sidelines, but couldn’t make it back in. This is the same guy who played in 136 consecutive games, seventh most in NFL history for a quarterback. And that streak included Stafford playing through a broken back. So it’s possible this injury will not keep him off the field. Time will tell.
But even if Stafford somehow guts it out, the team will almost certainly be without Kenny Golladay, who hasn’t played since he injured his hip back in Week 8.
As it stands now, sportsbooks aren’t exactly feeling the love for the Lions, installing the Titans as 10.5-point favorites across the board. On the moneyline, the Lions are +450 at both FanDuel and DraftKings.
Matchups don’t look good
On the field, the Lions’ best chance of moving the ball will be through the air, with the Titans pass defense ranked 29th in yards allowed per game and a middling 15th in yards per attempt. And since Darrell Bevell took over from Matt Patricia, the Lions have been throwing the ball farther downfield.
Another wild card in the Lions’ wild card chase? D’Andre Swift, who returned from a three-week absence, chalked up to a concussion and a mystery illness. He was eased back in last week, only touching the ball 11 times for 50 yards, though he did get in the paint. For the Lions to even have a Lloyd Christmas-chance of winning this game, Swift is going to have to have the ball in his hands.
On the other side of the ball … well, this does not bode well for the Lions defense, specifically their rushing defense. They are giving up the 29th most yards per game on the ground, the 28th most rushing first downs per game, and the most rushing touchdowns per game.
These numbers are objectively horrible, and now they have to face the closest thing the NFL has to an actual, honest-to-goodness wrecking ball in Derrick Henry. While the “Henry in December” narrative feels a little thin as narratives go … well, if Henry doesn’t run for 150 yards and two scores it will be a surprise.
For the record, the Lions pass defense is giving up the 27th most passing yards per game, so if the Titans decide to attack with Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown, and Corey Davis, it’s unclear how the Lions will stop that either.
Chase the over?
Player prop odds will surely be interesting. Henry’s yards and touchdown props are probably going to be priced as if he’s a combination of Jim Brown and an 8-foot-alien, so watch out there. If Stafford sits, the Chase Daniel passing yards prop should be around 220, and if you think the Titans are going to dominate — or if you think Bevell won’t change up the offense that much — the over there might be enticing.
All in all, the Lions’ season has been an injury-fueled disappointment, and with their ridiculously slim playoff chances on the line, on the road, and probably without their veteran quarterback, it’s possible watching “Dumb and Dumber” might make for a more pleasant Sunday afternoon.