The Detroit Lions have dealt with COVID-19, fired a special teams coach for going rogue and were official eliminated from the playoffs in a span of less than a week.
It has been quite chaotic for the team in the past few days.
Let’s start with the COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the Lions closed their practice facility and worked remotely after two people within the organization tested positive for COVID-19. Linebacker Anthony Pittman was placed on the reserve COVID-19 list and the other positive case was from a staff member.
And Wednesday morning, there were reports that the team could be without a significant portion of its coaching staff for Saturday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport said nearly all of Detroit’s defensive coaching staff are considered close contacts, including interim head coach Darrell Bevell. Who will be available to coach the Lions on Saturday depends on the contact tracing process.
Detroit (5-9) opened as a 7.5-point underdog for Saturday's 1 p.m. kickoff against Tampa Bay, but sports bettors have steamed the line up to 9.5 in favor of the Buccaneers (9-5).
Following the 46-25 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Bevell and the organization decided to fire special teams coach Brayden Coombs after Coombs went rogue and called a fake punt without Bevell’s permission.
Trailing by 14 in the fourth quarter and facing a fourth-and-4 play, Coombs called a fake punt. Detroit’s run was ruled just short of the first down marker. Tennessee only needed 34 yards to make it a 21-point game.
Bevell discussed the matter with team president Rod Wood and Coombs’ firing was announced on Monday.
“I thought long and hard about it (Sunday) night, and I ended up talking to Rod and told Rod what my thoughts were,” Bevell said, “and then Rod and the rest of the leadership group made a decision and helped me in that decision.”
The firing took some by surprise, including wide receiver Jamal Agnew who tweeted his reaction, which aligned with much of the fan base.
Detroit’s latest loss officially eliminated the team from playoff contention. The remaining two games only hold importance for draft positioning and those with futures bets on the Lions’ season win total.
Detroit’s win total wager was at 7 before the season. With the Lions at 5-9, those betting the over can only hope for a push. Those with the under hope the Lions lose at least one more time this season. Detroit ends the season at home vs. the Minnesota Vikings.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s status was in doubt for much of last week but he played against Tennessee. The Lions ranged from 10 to 11.5-point underdogs before it became clear he would be active. But even with Stafford, the Lions couldn’t cover the largest spread they faced this season, losing 46-25.
Stafford was efficient, completing 22 of 32 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown, but the Lions failed to stop the league’s leading rusher. Tennessee’s Derrick Henry averaged 6.1 yards per carry for 147 yards rushing and a touchdown. As a team, the Titans finished with 195 yards rushing (5.1) against the Lions, who have the league’s fourth-worst rush defense.
For the season, Detroit is just 6-8 ATS and will have to cover the second-biggest spread of the season when it faces Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are an even 7-7 ATS this year.