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Detroit Lions 2023 NFL Season Preview: Lions Should Win NFC North

As teams head to training camp and the NFL season approaches, The 33rd Team asks its experts to preview every team’s outlook for the 2023 season. In this installment, Mike Martz takes a deep dive into the Detroit Lions

>> READ: Lions Fantasy Football Preview

 Lions Team Preview

What To Know: Offense

They brought in RB David Montgomery from the Chicago Bears, and he’s got to feel like he died and went to heaven. He’d had no chance to see the line of scrimmage with the Bears. Montgomery was a huge signing for the Lions, and he makes them better.

They drafted RB Jahmyr Gibbs, and people wondered, “What are you doing this for? You’ve got these two backs already.” Well, this guy might become the centerpiece of their offense. He’s the first guy I’ve seen who reminds me of Marshall Faulk. What he sees and what he can do in a heartbeat is astonishing.

What To Know: Defense

The Lions brought in Dre Bly to coach the corners. He was a longtime, outstanding corner in the league and is a terrific teacher. John Scott, a former Penn State defensive line coach, has a terrific reputation for producing NFL linemen and is a taskmaster. He fits in with Detroit’s staff.

They drafted LB Jack Campbell out of Iowa. He’s a downhill guy, not a great athlete, but athletic enough. And he’s that slug middle linebacker who can help stop the run, particularly in that 4-3. Campbell is a huge, huge get for them in the draft. You’ll see his impact immediately.

Detroit revamped its whole secondary, which was critical. They brought in Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson as free agents, then drafted safety Brian Branch from Alabama.

Biggest Off-Field Storyline

The big move was not losing Ben Johnson, the offensive coordinator. He’s the top young mind in the league right now. He’s on his way to being a head coach here in the near future and probably could have gotten a top job this year. He just shut it down right away. I’d like to see him stay another year or two, help bring this team into the Super Bowl and then move on.

If he stayed here another year or two, it would really help him learn how to be a head coach from Day 1. It’s a big move that they didn’t lose him. That would have been devastating for the football team because he really has a rapport. He’s very creative, and he really understands how to rush the football, which is pretty outstanding.

Breakout Player Prediction

It’s Gibbs. Right away, he will have a huge impact on the Lions. The change-up in what he sees and can respond to is almost ridiculous. He has such a great feel for it. And then he’s physical, too, and he catches the ball. He’s a guy who will step in and have an immediate impact and elevate Detroit. He’s a home run threat that the Lions need.

2023 Season Expectations

They’ll win the NFC North. They have to stay healthy, but they can go deep into the playoffs and perhaps reach the NFC championship. They’ll be a major factor in the playoffs.

Defensively, they’ll be so much better this year. The defense could move up into the top 15; there’s no question that they have a chance. And offensively, they're a top-five team with a chance of being the best.

Other Previews

NFC East: DAL | NYG  | PHI | WAS

AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE  | NYJ

NFC North: GB | MIN | CHI

AFC North: PIT | CLE | BAL | CIN

AFC West: KC | LAC | LV | DEN


NFC South: TB | CAR | NO | ATL

AFC South: JAX | TEN | HOU | IND  

Mike Martz is a former NFL head coach and offensive coordinator, most notably for the St. Louis Rams. He was the OC for the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” offense in 1999 when they won Super Bowl XXXIV. As head coach, he led the Rams to two division titles and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVI.