The Detroit Lions have been the laughingstock of the NFL for decades, currently owning the league's longest drought without a playoff win at 30 years. Detroit has just one playoff win since capturing the NFL title in 1957, sporting a 17-46-2 record since the start of the 2018 season.
The Lions are in the midst of hard times, which is why the franchise brought in Dan Campbell to lead a resurgence. Detroit went just 3-13-1 in Campbell's first season, but finished 3-3 down the stretch to give the organization some hope heading into 2022.
Campbell, an optimistic person already, believes his team can surprise the league this year.
"We kind of feel like we may be Rich Strike here," Campbell said, referring to the Kentucky Derby winning horse via NBC's 'Football Morning in America.' "One of the most inspiring things I've seen in a long time. It was impressive. It was beautiful.
"I just think I've got guys like Rich Strike. Every time we hear the S-O-L, same old Lions, and all the stuff, I think it fuels our fire. We love it. I think that's how we all feel. That's how we all talk. That's how we all think. There's nothing fake about it."
Rich Strike was toward the back of the pack heading into the final turn when he blasted past the favorites in the final furlongs to win the Kentucky Derby -- an 80-1 long shot capturing America's most prestigious horse race. Campbell and the Lions are 125-1 (+12500) to win Super Bowl LVII (via Caesars Sportsbook), tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets for the third-longest odds in the NFL.
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The Lions have Jared Goff returning at quarterback, but have plenty of young talent on offense. Jamaal Williams (27) and D'Andre Swift (23) highlight the running backs while Amon-Ra St. Brown (22), D.J. Chark (25), and Jameson Williams (21) lead the wide receivers. T.J. Hockenson (24) is also back as the starting tight end. The offensive line doesn't have a starter over 28.
Detroit's pass rush improved with the selection of Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2 overall. Hutchinson had the second-highest pressure rate (14.2%) since 2019, second only to Alabama's Will Anderson Jr. Michigan had a 35% pressure rate when Hutchinson was on the field (fifth in NCAA), but just 28% when he was off the field (62nd in NCAA) in 2021. His 14 sacks were third in the nation and he finished second in Heisman Trophy voting as a result of his difference-making play.
Hutchinson is expected to make a huge impact on the Lions defense in 2022, as the unit allowed the second-most points and fourth-most yards in the league last year. The Lions had only 30 sacks in 2021, the third-fewest in the NFL.
There's optimism in Detroit with a young nucleus of players. The NFL has showcased over the years that long shots can win a championship (see the 1981 San Francisco 49ers and the 1999 St. Louis Rams).
In Campbell's eyes, why can't the Lions?