- The Detroit Lions are the No. 1 Super Bowl liability at BetMGM for 2023.
- A staggering plurality of NFC futures tickets are on the Lions.
- The Lions traded Jeff Okudah to Atlanta after a big free agency period.
This early spring period is a bit of a lull in the NFL betting space. The initial rush of NFL free agency has come and gone, and the NFL draft is still weeks away.
We won’t see the NFL schedule release for another month or so.
Still, I’m increasingly keeping an eye on one of the biggest NFL odds stories of the offseason that absolutely no one is talking about.
People love the Detroit Lions’ NFL futures odds market.
Lions Super Bowl Odds: Bettors Love Detroit
For the last couple of years, NFL odds blurbs about Super Bowl futures have mainly revolved around a handful of teams.
It’s Joe Burrow and the Bengals. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Josh Allen and the Bills. After 2022, we’re interested in the short-term arcs of the 49ers and Eagles, too.
But the Lions have been arguably the trendiest pick on the board below that top tier of teams, attracting gobs of action since the new Super Bowl betting odds were released in February. Detroit opened at +2500 and has been bet down to +2000 following the free agency period.
I asked our internal team here at BetMGM to pull some updated numbers for me as part of this little investigation I’m conducting. As of today, April 12, 7.8% of the current Super Bowl market is behind the Lions, accounting for 8.3% of the overall handle.
The handle is higher than the Cowboys, 49ers, Jets, and Broncos, among many others. Unsurprisingly, with odds priced at 20-to-1 or longer, the Lions are BetMGM’s No. 1 liability in the Super Bowl market.
The numbers are exponentially crazier in the NFC market. A shocking 47% of all NFC Championship tickets are on Detroit.
At market open, the Lions were fourth in the table at +1100. They’re still fourth in the table, trailing the Eagles, 49ers, and Cowboys, but the number is down to +850.
And, once again, the Lions are the No. 1 liability in this market.
You might recall that the Lions got some betting hype from last offseason, too. That hype ultimately didn’t pay off, as the Lions had a poor start before ultimately missing the playoffs when the Week 18 results didn’t fall their way.
But just because the hype didn’t pay off doesn’t mean it was unfounded. The Lions had an incredible second half in 2022, and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is sticking around in Detroit for another year.
If the Lions can play for a whole season like they did during the second half of 2022, they will be a legitimate threat to win the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They play in an easier division than other top competitors and play the same kind of tactically aggressive offense that Philadelphia used to great success last season.
There are a lot of positive signs here. But since the Super Bowl odds didn’t move down from +2500 to +2000 until after the beginning of NFL free agency, it is worth reviewing some of the moves that Detroit has made over the past month to understand what’s driving some of this spring movement.
Lions Free-Agent Signings
Here are a few of Detroit’s biggest free agent signings from the past few weeks:
- S C.J. Gardner-Johnson
- CB Cameron Sutton
- CB Emmanuel Moseley
- RB David Montgomery
- WR Marvin Jones Jr.
Detroit’s biggest problem in 2022 was that its back end couldn’t stop a nosebleed. PFF graded Detroit dead last in the NFL for coverage in 2022. It was significantly worse than the second-worst team, Miami.
The top of this free-agent class clearly addresses those problems. Gardner-Johnson led the NFL in interceptions last year and is a huge injection of talent. He also brings some flexibility, since he can play either safety or slot corner.
Detroit also re-signed some core pieces from last year’s defense, including defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs and linebacker Alex Anzalone. This is a smart blend of old parts and new pieces that should improve the Detroit defense.
A few smart moves in the NFL Draft wouldn’t hurt, either. Speaking of which…
Lions, Falcons Trade Ahead of Draft
On Tuesday, we got another juicy trade ahead of the NFL Draft. The Lions are sending CB Jeff Okudah — the third overall pick from 2020 — to Atlanta.
Okudah recorded 73 tackles and one interception in 2022 but has struggled to stay healthy through his first three years in the league. He graded out as PFF’s No. 159 corner in 2022.
Jeff Okudah Trade
Detroit sent Okudah down to the NFC South in exchange for Atlanta’s fifth-round pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft.
I see some fans upset about what the #Lions got in return for Okudah.
Ramsey: 3rd round pick
Gilmore: 5th round compensatory pick
With Okudah’s injury history and his inconsistent play, Holmes actually got great value in return!
— LionsFanReport (@lionsfanreport) April 11, 2023
Lions Jeff Okudah Contract
Jeff Okudah is currently entering the fourth year of his rookie contract and will make $5,182,074 in 2023.
Because he was a first-round pick, the Falcons will have a team option to pick up Okudah for a fifth season at $11,514,000.
Detroit is taking a dead cap hit of $5,486,099 for cutting Okudah loose.
Detroit Lions Cornerbacks
After a big free-agency investment in multiple cornerbacks, it was clear that Okudah had become disposable. From Detroit’s perspective, it makes way more sense to offload the former No. 3 pick with Sutton and Moseley on the roster.
Lions Salary Cap 2023
Detroit still has about $14 million worth of cap space to maneuver with.
Lions’ NFL Draft Needs
As is the case for nearly every team, Detroit could use some more help along the interior parts of its offensive and defensive lines. A high-end defensive tackle, in particular, would really help solidify the Lions’ newly reconstructed secondary with some early pressure up the middle.
Detroit will also be in search of a new tight end after trading T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings in the middle of last season.
And, of course, it has to be said: Jared Goff has been good, but at some point, the Lions need to draft a quarterback for the future. Is this the class to do that?
Detroit Lions Odds
The Lions clearly do not have a perfect roster, but what franchise does at this point?
Clearly, NFL odds experts have seen enough with the Detroit roster and coaching staff that they want to attack the Lions’ market in a big way.
With the NFC North as weak as it’s ever been in recent memory, and an unstoppable offense that’s deploying statistical analysis and modern football theory as good as anyone. Can you blame them?
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