(97.1 The Ticket) -- The first week of the NFL regular season is finally upon us, and it's predictions galore everywhere on the internet.
Everyone wants to know -- what should we expect the Detroit Lions' record to be this year?
While there are several outlets with rather optimistic predictions for the Lions -- some even with sights on the playoffs -- ESPN isn't so friendly to the Honolulu Blue and Silver.
The folks at ESPN used their FPI (Football Power Index) model to simulate 20,000 NFL seasons to get a good idea of what to expect this fall. They then took one of the seasons and laid it all out for football fans everywhere to indulge in. They included scores from all 267 games from Week 1 to the Super Bowl and created narratives to go along with it all.
And it sure doesn't look good for the Lions. The prediction has Detroit getting out to dismal 0-11 start and finishing 4-12. Not what the optimistic Lions fans were hoping to see.
It all gets off to a brutal start in the desert, a 36-10 loss to No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals, reminiscent of last year's 48-17 opening-week loss to the Jets and rookie Sam Darnold. And it doesn't get much better from there. After a 34-7 drubbing at Green Bay on Monday Night Football in Week 6, ESPN writes:
"Two zeroes remain in the standings, as the Packers make quick work of the Lions to improve to 6-0. Detroit, meanwhile, falls to 0-5. Fans ponder calling for a quarterback change, but then remember Josh Johnson is Matthew Stafford's backup."
ESPN predicts Martha Ford will finally be fed up enough with head coach Matt Patricia after an 0-10 start, capped off by a 35-10 loss against Dallas.
"Enough is enough for Martha Ford. Eager to avoid another winless season, she removes Patricia from his role as head coach after an 0-10 start and an overall 6-20 record for his tenure. Defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni takes over as the interim head coach."
"The Motor City Nightmare is over" is one of the headlines from Week 13, with the Lions beating the Bears on Thanksgiving. You might be thinking handing a loss to a hated rival in Super Bowl contention is the silver lining in the season. Not so fast -- at that point in the year, ESPN's model has Chicago at 4-7-1, well out of the playoff picture.
A four-game winning streak from Week 13 through Week 16 leaves the Lions at 4-12 on the year, not even holding the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. At best, they'd be picking third, with the Cardinals at 4-12, with Cincinnati and Carolina both at 3-13.
That's a pretty terrible season for the Lions. To be fair, that was just one of ESPN's 20,000 simulated seasons. As the season gets going this week, many Lions fans will be hoping this couldn't be further than the truth.
It gets underway for Detroit Sunday at 4:25 p.m. on Fox against the Cardinals.