Assessing the Lions’ 2022 season at the halfway stage

Nov 13, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Detroit Lions place kicker Michael Badgley (17) celebrates with Detroit Lions long snapper Scott Daly (47) after he makes an extra point against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NFL regular season is at the halfway stage, and the various tables are taking shape. There have been some surprise teams that have performed way above expectation during the first half of the season and others that are faltering. Had you asked any Detroit Lions fan for their opinion on November 5, they would no doubt have put their beloved Lions in the latter camp. However, back-to-back victories over the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears have given Lions supporters a glimmer of optimism for the campaign’s second half.

The Lions head to the MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Giants on November 20, nursing a 3-6 record. The Giants have been one of the shock teams of the season and currently occupy second place in the NFC East with a 7-2 record. Despite the difference in the teams’ win-loss stat, most of the best NFL betting sites online have only a three-point spread for this upcoming fixture. The bookies either see the Lions’ two consecutive wins as a sign they are back in business or believe the Giants’ opening nine games have been a fluke.

Beating the Giants puts the Lions 4-6, which will help their playoff hopes. Lose, however, and a 3-7 record looks bad, especially with fixtures against Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, and New York Jets, all teams with winning records right now, before Christmas.

The Lions’ season so far: The positives

It took until Week 13 in 2021 for the Lions to register their first victory; they were 0-10-1 when they beat Minnesota Vikings 29-27 at Ford Field on December 5. The Lions ended the 2021 regular season campaign with a 3-13-1 record, missing out on the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

The current season started badly, with the Lions going 1-6, but a 15-9 win over Green Bay Packers and a 31-30 at the Chicago Bears leave the Lions 3-6, which looks like there is something for head coach Dan Campbell to work with.

Offensively, the Lions have not been too bad at all. The Lions have scored more than 21 points in six of their nine games, although they were shutout in a 0-29 loss at the New England Patriots. Quarterback Jared Goff’s pass completion percentage has dropped a few points from last season, but he already has 15 touchdown passes (19 across 14 games in 2021). However, Goff has thrown seven interceptions, just one less than through 14 games in 2021, and three of those have been returned for touchdowns.

Jamaal Williams has been good running the ball and is already guaranteed his best season in terms of yards and touchdowns, even if he does not play again this season.

The Lions’ offensive line is arguably the team’s biggest strength despite a season-ending back injury to Halapoulivaati Vaitai before the campaign began. Evan Brown, Hank Fraley, and Penei Sewell have performed solidly, while one-time Pro Bowler Jonah Jackson ranks 10th among guards. The fact Goff has only been sacked five times this season (35 times in 2021) shows the offensive line is doing its job.

The Lions’ season so far: The negatives

Defensively, the Lions have been a shambles at times through the opening nine fixtures. They are averaging 29.33 points allowed per game and have allowed 30+ points four times in nine games.

The Lions’ defense has struggled against the rush this season, allowing 1,448 yards and an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Only the Houston Texans (1-7) have allowed more rushing yards (1,636), and only the Bears have allowed more rushing touchdowns (17) than the Lions (15).

In regards to defending the passing game, the Lions do not fare too much better than their rushing counterparts. The Lions are the ninth-worst NFL team in terms of passing yards allowed (2,298) and are the worst in the entire league for yards per attempt (7.8).

Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn needs to address the Lions’ defensive frailties and address them sooner rather than later; otherwise, the Lions will be on the outside looking in once the playoffs begin.