You might think it's too early to be making picks for the 2020 NFL season. You might think the process is foolhardy, no matter when you do it. You might think Nate Davis from USA Today should just can it.
But you have to acknowledge this: Davis has a nose for Detroit.
He's back with his predictions for 2020, and once again he's got the Lions under .500. But they won't finish last! In fact, Davis expects the Lions to take a sizable forward this season, improving to 7-9.
The question is whether that will be enough for Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn to get another year.
"They were quietly competitive in 2019 prior to the season-ending back injury to QB Matthew Stafford, who was in the midst of a career year," Davis writes. "Rookies Jeff Okudah and D'Andre Swift should provide a bump for a team that was also active in free agency at a time when the jobs of GM Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia appear to be on the line. Might be a rocky start with just one home game apiece in September and October."
Davis projects the Packers (10-6) to win the NFC North, with the Vikings (8-8) finishing second and the Bears (3-13) tumbling into last. Why the sudden fall for Chicago?
"The schedule is brutal, and the offensive weaponry supporting the unsettled quarterback position isn't a whole lot better," says Davis. "Barring another transcendent effort like the defense produced in 2018, more likely this franchise ends up cleaning house than returning to postseason."
Back to the Lions. While it wouldn't be celebrated, a seven-win season has the potential to save Patricia and Quinn. It would constitute real progress from last season, and with the playoff field expanding to 14 teams in 2020, the Lions would likely be in the race in December. That goal for the team to play 'meaningful games' down the stretch, handed down by ownership, could be checked off the list.
But the Lions Whisperer has spoken. Davis says Detroit will finish 7-9. And if we've learned anything the last two years, we'll take that to the bank.