Detroit Lions Odds, Predictions, and Season Preview for 2023: There Is Actually Optimism in the Motor City

It seems impossible but yes, there are actual expectations for the Detroit Lions to succeed in 2023. This is a franchise that hasn't won its division since 1993 and hasn't won a playoff game since 1991. And our betting picks aren't raining on their parade.

Jason Logan: Senior Betting Analyst at Covers
Jason Logan • Senior Betting Analyst
Sep 6, 2023 • 14:47 ET • 4 min read

The Detroit Lions have pumped out the profits the past two years, both as a downtrodden laughingstock and football betting’s darling. 

The Lions went 3-13-1 straight up in Dan Campbell’s first season in Motown and somehow produced an 11-6 mark against the spread in 2021. They then jumped to 9-8 SU last year and became one of the most public plays every Sunday, again finishing in the black at 12-5 ATS.

This year, NFL futures expectations are higher in Detroit than they’ve been in a long, long time. The season win total is leaning heavily toward at least 10 victories and the look-ahead lines have the Lions laying the points in 12 of their 17 games.

And with the NFC North in shambles and a 24th-ranked SOS void of any true scheduling quirks, the door is wide open for Detroit to live up to those forecasts. But the Lions’ spread success is also ripe for regression even as their Super Bowl odds are better than they have been in ages.

I make sense of the “pride” of Motown and how they relate to NFL odds with my 2023 Detroit Lions NFL betting preview.

Detroit Lions futures odds

Future bet DraftKings FanDuel Caesars
Win Super Bowl +2,200 +2,200 +2,200
Win conference +1,100 +900 +1,000
Win division +140 +155 +120
Make playoffs -165 -170 -170
O9.5 wins -120 -122 -135
U9.5 wins +100 +100 +115

Best futures bet: Win NFC North (+155)

When figuring out the pecking order in the NFC North, not only do we need to address the Lions' quality but also that of the other three teams in the division. 

NFL futures have Detroit as the favorite to win the NFC North and the season win totals and look-ahead lines affirm that status, with 9.5 wins juiced to the Over and early odds setting them apart as the chalk in a dozen games — well ahead of the look-ahead lines for Chicago (7), Minnesota (6), and Green Bay (5).

In fact, Detroit is a favorite in all but one divisional matchup this season, getting +1 from the Vikings on the road in Week 16. Even if the Lions go 4-2 in the NFC North, there are five winnable non-division games on deck in the first eight weeks of action. 

Truth be told, Campbell’s crew doesn’t need to surpass its 9.5-win total to wear its first division crown since Jurassic Park rocked movie theatres (1993 if you’re counting). Nine wins may be enough to earn the attached postseason ticket in a down year for the NFC North.

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Detroit Lions betting overview

What will win bets: Trenches

We gave the same reason in this section last year and the offensive and defensive lines for the Lions are even better in 2023.

The stop unit is banking on pass rushers Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston to keep the chaos coming. That pair combined for 17.5 sacks last season, with Hutchinson stealing the show as a rookie and explosive edge Houston not taking the field until Thanksgiving. He posted eight sacks in his first seven pro appearances.

That combo helped flip the Lions’ fortunes in the home stretch of the schedule, with Detroit jumping from 31st in DVOA to 20th from Week 12 onward. That’s like going from poop to pee, but it made a big difference for Motown bettors (6-1 ATS in those last seven games).

As for the offensive line, the proof is in Jared Goff’s pristine jersey every Sunday. Goff was sacked just 23 times and felt a pressure rate of only 19.1% in 2022, helping him keep cool and avoid mistakes. 

He’s thrown just 15 total interceptions in his two seasons with Detroit versus 41 INTs over his final three years with the L.A. Rams. The Lions owned a +7 turnover margin in 2022 with a league-low 15 giveaways. 

Bringing the heat on one side of the ball and being cooler than a cucumber on the other is vital to Detroit bettors' fortunes, and that’s anchored in the trenches once again.

What will lose bets: Market Movement

The cat’s out of the bag on the Lions being one of the best bets in football, which means public players will flock to Detroit looking for more money in 2023. 

Detroit entered last season as a favorite in only three games but is the chalk in a dozen of its 17 contests in 2023. The Lions have been favorites only five times in the past two years, going 3-2 ATS in those games.

The offseason markets echo that Sunday sentiment, with 80% of tickets on the Over 9.5 wins and the division title odds drawing 51% of the ticket count and more than 70% of the handle backing Detroit to win the NFC North.

Perhaps the most telling and scary stat for Detroit backers is the teams’ insane 16-3 ATS record in one-possession games (eight points or less) the past two years. The bulk of those results came with the Lions catching plenty of points — a cushion that’s no longer there in 2023.

Detroit Lions 2023 schedule

Week Opponent Spread
1 Chiefs Kansas City Chiefs +7
2 vs Seahawks Seattle Seahawks -2.5
3 vs Falcons Atlanta Falcons -5
4 @ Packers Green Bay Packers -1.5
5 vs Panthers Carolina Panthers -5
6 Buccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3.5
7 @ Ravens Baltimore Ravens +3
8 vs Raiders Las Vegas Raiders -4.5
10 Chargers Los Angeles Chargers +2.5
11 vs Bears Chicago Bears -5
12 vs Packers Green Bay Packers -4
13 Saints New Orleans Saints +1
14 @ Bears Chicago Bears -1.5
15 vs Broncos Denver Broncos -2
16 @ Vikings Minnesota Vikings +1
17 @ Cowboys Dallas Cowboys +3.5
18 vs Vikings Minnesota Vikings -2.5

Spreads courtesy of DraftKings sportsbook.

The look-ahead lines have a higher bar for the Lions than the win total markets, but a number of those spreads are short. 

Detroit has nine games with spreads between -3 and +3, calling for more one-score finishes from one of the most dramatic teams in recent NFL history. The Lions rank out No. 10 in fourth quarter EPA over the past two seasons, leading to many notable backdoor covers.

My power ratings, which reflect the win total, early spreads, and SOS, are positive for Detroit, placing it 10th in the league (62.23/100), ahead of notables like Miami and Seattle. We don’t have to wait long to find out if that rating is fluff, with the Lions visiting Kansas City in the Thursday Week 1 opener.

Detroit is bouncing between a +6.5 and 7-point road underdog while my ratings produce a spread of Lions +7.02. From there, the early season slate sends Seattle and Atlanta to Ford Field for the next two games, pegging Detroit as rare favorites.

The back third of the schedule is a tough one and will have win-total bettors sweating, with Detroit on the road in four of its final six games. However, only one of those stops is a cold-weather outdoor venue (Chicago) and the others are all inside.

Detroit Lions schedule spot bet

Week 17: @ Dallas

As mentioned, the final month of the schedule has Detroit living the circus life on the road. 

After the annual Thanksgiving Day game, the Lions play four of five as visitors, including a Week 17 trip to Dallas. Not only are they facing another club contending for the postseason and closing out a grind of a sked, but this game comes on a Saturday.

It’s a short week at the end of a long stretch bookended by meetings with Minnesota. The look-ahead lines have Detroit listed as a field goal underdog while my ratings produce a spread of Lions +2.3 without adjusting for the situational challenges.

Star power: Amon-Ra St. Brown props

Prop DraftKings FanDuel Caesars
MVP +20,000 OTB +40,000
OPOY +3,500 +2,900 +2,500
Rec yards leader +3,500 +3,000 +3,000
Rec TD leader +4,500 +1,800 OTB
O5.5 Rec TD -115 -112 +110
U5.5 Rec TD -105 -112 -140
Rec yards total 1,050.5 1,000.5 1,000.5

Best prop: Over 1,000.5 receiving yards

The Sun God had 1,161 yards receiving in 2022, breaking out as the Lions’ go-to guy and making fantasy owners and NFL prop bettors very happy with his November to remember. Oddsmakers are expecting a decline from Amon-Ra St. Brown in 2023, with his receiving yard Over/Under as low as 1,000.5.

Player modeling for this upcoming season has St. Brown north of that total — not always by much — with a ceiling of 1,165 yards. What some of these projections fail to take into account is just how shorthanded the Lions’ WR corps will be to start the season.

Expected No. 2 receiver Jameson Williams was coming off injury and then got nabbed for gambling violations, benching him for the first six games. That leaves veteran retread Marvin Jones Jr. as the next man up on the depth chart and increases St. Brown’s importance to this offense. He saw the ninth most targets in 2022 (146) with 106 catches.

Detroit Lions betting insights

Covers Writer Icon

Johnson has offense humming

By Josh Inglis

Covers Betting Analyst

Pro Football Focus graded Detroit OC Ben Johnson as the No.1 play caller in the NFL and there is a ton to like about this offense this season, especially in a division that could see some shootouts. That means this Detroit backfield will continue to find the back of the end zone in 2023.

Gone are D’Andre Swift (five rushing TDs) and Jamaal Williams (17 rushing TDs in 2022) and in are David Montgomery and first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs. Monty will likely be the 220-pound goal-line back with the quicker Gibbs likely filling the Swift role. If Montgomery sees anywhere near that goal-line workload that Williams did in 2022, hitting double-digit rushing TDs (+400 at bet365) could be sweat-free with a healthy campaign.

Covers Writer Icon

Motor City Kitties revving up

By Joe Osborne

Covers Senior Betting Analyst

Thanks to an 8-2 record in their final 10 games of last season, the Lions find themselves as the NFC North favorites — but are they worthy of the hype?

Given all the question marks within their division and a fairly easy schedule... I think they are.

Retaining Ben Johnson as offensive coordinator was a massive win and this defense could take a positive step after gradual improvements last season. A double-digit win season is a very realistic possibility for Detroit.

Detroit Lions trend to know

The Lions have been a solid Over bet since Ben Johnson took over as offensive coordinator in the final six games of the 2021 season, owning a 14-9 O/U record with him calling the plays heading into 2023. That includes an 8-4 O/U count inside the fast track of Ford Field (67% Overs). 

Last season, the Lions scored 33.1 points per game at home compared to just 19.4 average points on the road while the defense stunk no matter the venue (allowed 25.1 points against on the season).

The Lions faced an average home total of 50.5 points in 2022, including a 54.5-point number hosting Buffalo in Week 12 (which just played Under with 53 combined points). 

This season’s home totals see Detroit up against an average O/U of 46.69 points inside Ford Field, with only one look-ahead total tipping the scales at 50-plus points (Week 11 vs. Chicago). 

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