After regressing in year one under Matt Patricia, the Lions can't afford another step back in 2019.
According to Nate Davis, the Lions will go ... 3-13, their worst record since they went 2-14 in 2009.
That's despite their lavish spending in free agency, especially on the defensive side of the ball. After that defense surged in the second half of last year, the Lions added the likes of Trey Flowers and Justin Coleman.
They also added more weapons for Matthew Stafford, including first-round pick T.J. Hockenson and free agent wide receiver Danny Amendola.
But it won't be enough to keep Detroit from a second consecutive last-place finish in the NFC North, according to Davis. He believes the team's schedule will be too challenging to overcome:
"Difficult to envision coach Matt Patricia improving on his 6-10 debut. Four of their eight home dates come against 2018 playoff outfits — a figure that doesn't include the Packers or Vikings. Two West Coast trips in season's first half unlikely to help, either."
In addition to hosting the Bears in Week 13, the Lions host the Chargers (Week 2), the Chiefs (Week 4) and the Cowboys (Week 11). As for their two West Coast trips, they visit the Cardinals in Week 1 and the Raiders in Week 9.
The early portion of Detroit's schedule indeed looks daunting. After a winnable opener in Arizona, the Lions' next five games come against the Chargers, at the Eagles, against the Chiefs, at the Packers, against the Vikings.
3-3 through the stretch would put the team in good shape. Davis, for his part, doesn't see it.
He likes the Vikings (12-4) to win the NFC North, the Bears (11-5) to claim a wild card spot and the Packers (9-7) to be in the race until the finish. And then the Lions bring up the rear.
From there, Davis foresees the Eagles defeating the Bears in the NFC Championship, and the Chargers defeating the Patriots in the AFC Championship. And he has the Chargers winning it all.
His picks have become bulletin board material for some teams in the past, including last year's Seahawks, who responded to Davis last-place prediction by making the playoffs. We'll see if the Lions use this snub as similar fuel.