NFL - US Sports: Detroit Lions season preview
If ever a team was the perfect choice for HBO's 'Hard Knocks' then the Detroit Lions, who have endured hard times for too long, were it.
The reality sports documentary has fuelled optimism over the Lions, who have not won more than six games in each of the last four seasons.
Head coach Dan Campbell's first year in Detroit brought just three wins and they remain in a rebuilding phase.
But there were signs of improvement last year and bullish Campbell and his staff have got more talent at their disposal now.
New additions Jameson Williams and D.J. Chark are hoping to provide an offensive spark for Jared Goff, who must step up his production if he's to be thought of as Detroit's quarterback of the future.
And coordinator Aaron Glenn's defence could surprise a few this season with second overall draft selection Aidan Hutchinson to bolster the Lions' pass rush.
Eleven of the last 13 teams featured on Hard Knocks have matched or bettered their regular season win-loss record with the Lions at 1.45 to win more than 5.5 games in 2022.
NFL Season 2022/23
All across the U.S.A with three games scheduled for London, one for Munich and one in Mexico City
8th September 2022 - 12th February 2023
|How to watch|
The vast majority of games are live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass, while selected games are available via Sky Sports and bet365's Sports Live Streaming
Where did the Detroit Lions finish last season?
4th NFC North (3-13-1)
What are the Detroit Lions' hopes for the season?
Early in the summer, Lions second-year wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown said this season's goals were to win the division, host a playoff game and see what happens from there.
No one seriously expects Ford Field to be hosting postseason action next January, but some suspect Detroit could close the gap to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North.
There are new head coaches in both Minnesota and Chicago this season and it can take time for a new regime to get ideas across and establish connections with the players.
So the Lions, who have won just three of their last 12 games against divisional opponents, could capitalize on the current state of the Vikings and the Bears.
Detroit are 11.00 to finish on top for the first time since 1993 while a Lions and Packers 1-2 finish, in either order, is a 5.00 shot.
Who are the Detroit Lions' opening opponents?
The Lions kick off their season at home to the Philadelphia Eagles, who went 9-8 under first-year head coach Nick Sirianni last year and lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
The Eagles finished among the NFL's top-10 in scoring defence last year, which should provide Detroit's offence with early test of their credentials.
The Lions, who lost all eight away games in 2021, will be glad to be starting at Ford Field, but this year there are nine road trips on their schedule.
When are the Detroit Lions' key matchups?
Week 13 through to Week 17, the Lions go up against five teams that finished with records of 7-10 or worse in 2021.
All of the games, which begin with a home date against the Jacksonville Jaguars, look winnable on paper and the early December matchup is a chance to assess which of the top two picks from the 2022 draft is faring the best as Hutchinson and the Jags' Travon Walker share the spotlight.
Two of the Lions' next four games are on the road against non-divisional opponents with quarterback issues - the New York Jets saw starter Zach Wilson go down with a pre-season injury and the Carolina Panthers are banking on a Baker Mayfield revival.
Detroit welcomes two of the Lions' division rivals at Ford Field in the other two and both could be must-win games for Campbell's men if all is going to plan.
The Vikings arrive in Week 14 while the Week 17 clash with the Bears could be vital in determining whether there is anything riding on the Lions' trip to Lambeau Field in the final week of the regular season.
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Who is the Detroit Lions head coach?
Campbell is looking to instil a spirit of sacrifice among his players as he enters his sophomore season.
He's already established a reputation for intensity on the practice field and produced many memorable soundbites in the media room.
After starting the season 0-10-1, Campbell's Lions roared back to win three of their final six regular season games in 2021.
Which players have the Detroit Lions signed?
LB Chris Board (Baltimore Ravens)
WR D. J. Chark (Jacksonville Jaguars)
CB Mike Hughes (Kansas City Chiefs)
LB Jarrad Davis (New York Jets)
TE Garrett Griffin (New Orleans Saints)
S DeShon Elliott (Baltimore Ravens)
RB Justin Jackson (Los Angeles Chargers)
Which players have left the Detroit Lions?
LB Trey Flowers
DL Nicholas Williams (New York Giants)
DT Joel Heath
WR KhaDarel Hodge (Atlanta Falcons)
OT Will Holden
S Dean Marlowe (Atlanta Falcons)
LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Houston Texans)
Who are the Detroit Lions' key players?
|Offensive MVP||Penei Sewell|
|Defensive MVP||Charles Harris|
|Top rookie||DE Aidan Hutchinson (1st round)|
|Breakout star||RB D'Andre Swift|
In his rookie season, Sewell played both left and right side - establishing himself as one of the NFL's best run-blocking tackles. The Lions' offensive line was arguably the most consistent position group despite serious injuries to Pro Bowler Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker.
That play bore fruit in the rushing game where the Lions were able to establish the run in all but a couple of games. Running back Swift paired 617 rushing yards and five touchdowns with 62 catches for 452 yards and two more scores in 2021, although injuries eventually wore him down.
On defence, Harris wound up playing 75 percent of the defensive snaps as the Lions' main edge rusher because of injuries and didn't let anyone down.