In Week 1, the Detroit Lions blew a 23-6 lead going into the fourth quarter. In Week 2, they raced out to a 14-3 advantage in the first quarter, then got outscored 39-7 over the rest of the game. The hosts of the Lions podcast Pride of Detroit described the offensive outburst led by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as a “40-burger enema” administered to the Lions.
These Lions just find ways to lose, and Sunday’s collapse set an ignominious record for Detroit, which became the first team in NFL history to drop four straight games in which they had led by double digits. When the 0-2 Lions visit Arizona Sunday to face the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals, it will be exactly 11 months to the day of Detroit’s last win — which came Oct. 27, 2019, against the New York Giants — under third-year head coach Matt Patricia.
“They break your heart, they don’t just lose,” said Emmy-award winning actor and Michigan sports superfan Jeff Daniels, on the Rich Eisen Show. “You just know if you lean toward, ‘we’re gonna win,’ you’re going to get your heart broken.”
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) September 23, 2020
But even if Detroit’s disappointing start has jaded Lions fans ready to give up on another NFL season, sports gamblers in Michigan can still hope to win a buck betting on — or against — their team.
Odds and outlook for Lions-Cardinals
Mobile sports betting has not yet launched in Michigan (expect that by the end of 2020 and, optimistically, as early as Thanksgiving), so bettors still must wager in person at one of the retail sportsbooks at the three Detroit commercial casinos or the several tribal casinos in the state that have opened sportsbooks since May.
Across the board, oddsmakers from FanDuel to DraftKings to BetRivers to BetMGM have the Lions as 5.5-point underdogs vs. the Cardinals. So far this season, Detroit is 0-2 against the spread, and historically, teams with such records beat or cover their Week 3 lines about 60% of the time. That arguably makes taking the Lions +5.5 a smart bet, but it would be hard to blame Detroit fans who have lost the stomach to bet on their team exceeding expectations. Moneyline bets range from +200 to +215 on the Lions and -240 to -255 on the Cardinals.
Detroit vs. Arizona has the looks of a high-scoring shootout, and Michigan sportsbooks currently offer a soaring total points over/under that ranges from 54.5 at BetMGM to 55.5 at BetRivers. Only Cowboys-Seahawks has a higher Week 3 total point line of 56.5 at some books.
Yet even though the oddsmakers are anticipating a high-scoring affair Sunday in Phoenix, bettors still might talk themselves into taking the over in Lions-Cardinals. Unfortunately, much of their confidence would probably stem from Detroit’s 30th-ranked defense, which is averaging 34.5 points allowed this season, has forced zero turnovers, and has generated two sacks.
Second-year dynamo Kyler Murray has thrown and run for more than 300 overall yards for Arizona in each of his first two games, and it’s difficult to imagine Detroit’s injury-riddled secondary containing wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald.
If Arizona jumps out to a lead, the Lions’ coaching staff may have to abandon their fairly conservative offensive style for a more aggressive approach, unleashing quarterback Matt Stafford to look downfield more often, just to keep up with the Cardinals’ scoring. And if that happens, the Lions might not win and they might not cover, but they might score and give up enough points to hit that over. And remember, it’s not all bad.
NOT EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE!
Jack Fox LEADS THE LEAGUE IN NET PUNTING AVERAGE!
— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) September 21, 2020
Watch out for player props
Sportsbooks haven’t posted prop bets on individual player performance yet, but bettors would be wise to keep checking the lines as Sunday approaches, because if Lions-Cardinals develops into the shootout experts are predicting, then both Stafford and Murray could have monster offensive games.
Stafford should have the Lions’ top target, wide receiver Kenny Golladay, to throw to for the first time this season. Golladay missed Detroit’s first two games with a hamstring injury, but he practiced Wednesday and appears likely to return. If the Lions fall behind by multiple touchdowns and Stafford gets the green light to unleash his vaunted arm strength and throwing angles, he could connect with Golladay, Marvin Jones, and tight end T.J. Hockenson for big numbers in the air.
Stafford finds @bigplayhall_A2N for the TD!
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) September 20, 2020
Murray will have his pick of weaknesses to exploit in Detroit’s defense, but gamblers may want to take an extra hard look at lines for his total running yards on Sunday. Detroit’s defensive line has given up more rushing yards than any other team this season — 204 per game — and they’re allowing a league-worst 6.5 yards per carry against run plays. Murray, who rushed for 91 yards in last week’s win over Washington, appears to have a strong chance to put up even gaudier stats Sunday against the Lions.