Detroit Lions. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Got a little money in your pocket and feel like you know the Detroit Lions pretty well? Online gaming sites, including Bovada, offer you the chance to put your money where your mouth is by setting season over/under totals for a host of players. You can bet on several Detroit Lions and how you think they’ll do in the 2016 season.
Granted online wagering is illegal in Michigan and the United States, so these are presented for infotainment purposes only.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Quarterback Matthew Stafford gets several prop bets:
Passing Yards – 4400
TD Passes – 27.5
INTs – 13.5
For reference, Stafford threw for 4262 yards, 32 TDs and 13 INTs in 2015
I like the under on yards, even though the Detroit Lions QB topped the 4400 yard mark each year from 2011-13. He has been in the 4200-yard range each of the last two seasons, however. I also believe the Lions will run the ball more often in 2016, which takes opportunities away for more yards.
The touchdowns and interceptions are dicey bets, for die-hards only. That 27.5 touchdown figure is his average over the last three seasons, topping it twice but coming far short (22) in the other. Detroit ranked second in the league in red zone TD percentage last year, but that was with Calvin Johnson. They were 18th in 2014, and a similar fallback will definitely cut into Stafford’s TD totals.
However, I do think the more diverse receiving corps could really be an asset here. In the past opponents knew Calvin was going to get a lot of looks. But now they don’t have any one player to key on. The Stafford we saw in the second half of 2016 can definitely exploit that for 30-plus TDs.
So even though I like the under on yards, I’ll hit the over on touchdown passes. As for interceptions, his INT rate of 2.1% over the last two years portends poorly for the over; at that rate Stafford would have to throw 619 passes to hit 13. I can’t see these Lions throwing the ball more than 575 times. I’ll take the under.
Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah (21) returns a kickoff against the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Several props involve the Detroit Lions running backs.
Rushing yards – 700
Total TDs – 5
Abdullah toted the ball 143 times for 597 yards and 3 total TDs (two rushing, one receiving) in his 2015 rookie campaign. He split the starting RB role with now-departed Joique Bell, who netted 90 carries.
At the 4.2 yards per carry from last year, Abdullah would need to pick up just 23 of those Bell attempts. Even if he regresses back to 4 yards per carry, No. 21 would need just 32 more carries. I don’t see Zach Zenner or Dwayne Washington eating up more than 50 combined carries between them as Bell’s replacements. The upgraded offensive line and faster offensive tempo should also help keep that yards per carry average above 4, too.
So I really like the over on the yards. Even a recurring case of fumblitis shouldn’t keep Ameer Abdullah from 700 yards. As for the touchdowns? Take the over if you think he’ll get a lot of red zone looks. I happen to think the next guy on this list siphons those off, so I’m taking the under…
Total receptions – 62.5
The Riddick receiving total fascinates me. Riddick led all NFL running backs with 80 last year, and has demonstrated his entire Lions career he’s a better receiver than runner. Heck, he was a wide receiver at the 2014 Shrine Game week.
Detroit has just four wideouts, none of whom are Calvin Johnson. That’s 150 or so targets up for grabs and less mouths to feed them to. Unless Riddick gets hurt, it’s hard to see him not getting at least 75. Overconfidence can be a costly trait for gamblers, but the over here is the easiest decision of any Detroit Lions prop bets.
Aug 12, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) warms-up before playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The Lions won 30-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Receiving Yards – 1000
Over – Even
Receiving TDs – 5.5
Tate hauled in 90 passes last year but barely topped 800 yards, scoring 6 TDs. Working opposite, and at times inside, Calvin Johnson, Tate predominately ran shorter routes. I believe Jim Bob Cooter’s offense will see Tate working more down the field in 2016. His ability to create after the catch definitely helps boost the yardage total, too. I like the over, if only because it’s difficult to envision the Detroit Lions lacking a 1,000-yard receiver. Plus Tate had over 1300 in 2014, his first year in Detroit. I’m not touching the TD total, but gun to the head I’ll go over.
Receiving Yards – 850
Receiving TDs – 5
Both Marvin Jones props have the same over and under pay lines of -115. That essentially means the bookies don’t really know what to think happens with Jones in his first year in Detroit.
The new Detroit Lions starter is coming off his best season, catching 65 passes for 816 yards and 4 TDs. Jones did manage 10 TDs on just 51 catches and 712 yards in 2014.
Judging from the preseason and training camp, Jones looks like he will be no worse than Tate’s equal in targets. And he tends to run deeper routes, so even if he doesn’t catch as many as his counterpart, he might still get more yards. Then again, I expect Eric Ebron to see a significant bump in both targets and downfield yardage. With Anquan Boldin also in the mix, it’s easy to see games where Jones just isn’t that involved.
I’ll tepidly recommend the over on the yards. Touchdowns? I see Jones as the primary beneficiary of all those old Calvin targets in the red zone. Over seems a stronger play on that prop.
Aug 18, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; A general exterior photo of Ford Field before the game between the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Of course, you can also wager on several team props. The most common is the team win total, which tends to be the only bets I make on the NFL front.
Team Wins – 7
Team Makes Playoffs?
I’m on the record as saying I think these Detroit Lions go 6-10 in 2016, so obviously I like the under and the “no” on the playoff front.
There are even more potential bets if you are either really high or low on the Lions.
Think they’re going to finish with the worst overall record? Detroit is +1600, tied with NFC North rival Chicago for 6th most likely.
Got Super Bowl visions dancing in your Kool-Aid infested head? You can win +7500 on the Lions. Only Tampa Bay has longer odds, somewhat surprisingly. Green Bay is the favorite at +600. Detroit also faces the longest odds for winning the NFC North at +1200, tied with Chicago.