The Detroit Lions, coming off a four-win season, are being projected as NFC playoff contenders again in 2013 based on game-by-game point spreads released by the Cantor Gaming sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
The Lions opened as favorites in eight of their first 15 games while being underdogs in six and a pick’em in one. (Lines were not posted for the final week of the season because playoff-clinching teams typically rest their starters in those games.)
Detroit, which lost its final eight games last year, is favored to win six of its first eight games, albeit by very slight margins in each case.
The top five teams in the NFC, based on these numbers, are San Francisco (favored in 13 games), Seattle (also 13), Green Bay (11), Atlanta (10) and New Orleans (9).
Then comes Detroit, Chicago and Washington, each favored eight times, suggesting that those three conceivably could be battling for the sixth — and final — NFC playoff spot.
Despite a 2-6 home record in 2012, the Lions are favored in six of their eight games at Ford Field this year. They’re also road favorites against Arizona and Cleveland.
The only opponents that the Lions are underdogs against are Washington (road), Green Bay (twice, home and road), Chicago (road), Pittsburgh (road) and Philadelphia (road).
Minnesota, one of the Lions’ division rivals, opened as favorites in just five games after winning 10 and making the playoffs last season.
Here is Cantor’s week-by-week breakdown of the opening points spreads for the Lions, compiled by Joe Fortenbaugh of the NationalFootballPost.com:
Week 1: – 2.5 vs. Minnesota.
Week 2: – 2.5 at Arizona.
Week 3: + 2.5 at Washington.
Week 4: – 1 vs. Chicago.
Week 5: + 4.5 at Green Bay.
Week 6: – 1 at Cleveland.
Week 7: – 1.5 vs. Cincinnati.
Week 8 – 1 vs. Dallas.
Week 9: Bye.
Week 10: + 3 at Chicago.
Week 11: + 3.5 at Pittsburgh.
Week 12: – 3.5 vs. Tampa Bay.
Week 13 (Thanksgiving): + 1.5 vs. Green Bay.
Week 14: + 1 at Philadelphia.
Week 15 (Monday night): Pick vs. Baltimore.
Week 16: – 1.5 vs. New York Giants.
Week 17: No line at Minnesota. From the waiver wire
The Lions added some veteran depth by claiming Kansas City linebacker Cory Greenwood and Tampa Bay offensive guard Derek Hardman off waivers, the club confirmed Tuesday.
Greenwood, 27, made 34 tackles and forced one fumble in 48 games over the last seasons with the Chiefs. He is from Canada, played at Concordia University in Quebec and was the No. 3 pick overall in the CFL Draft in 2010.
Greenwood chose to pursue a NFL career and signed as an undrafted free agent with Kansas City. He is 6-foot-2, 235 pounds and could contribute on special teams if he makes the Lions’ roster.
Hardman, 26, played in 15 games, starting four, in the last three years with Tampa Bay after signing as an undrafted free agent ouf of Eastern Kentucky in 2010. He is 6-6, 300 pounds and adds experience to Detroit’s youthful, revamped offensive line.