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Commanders vs Lions Picks, Predictions: NFL Week 2 Preview

Commanders vs Lions Picks, Predictions: NFL Week 2 Preview article feature image
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Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: D’Andre Swift.

  • The Commanders are slight underdogs in Week 2 against the Lions.
  • Detroit hasn't closed as a betting favorite since the 2020 season.
  • Kody Malstrom breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.

Commanders vs. Lions Odds

Sunday, Sept. 18
1 p.m. ET
FOX
Commanders Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+1
-110
48.5
-110o / -110u
+100
Lions Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-1
-110
48.5
-110o / -110u
-120
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Welcome to Week 2, also known as Overreaction Week, when we sit through hot takes and claims based on a one-game sample. But one “overreaction” that I’m really liking is the idea that the Lions are living up to their preseason hype. 

I’m not saying Detroit is a Super Bowl contender, let alone a playoff contender, but the offense impressed and did its part in clearing last week’s total against the Eagles.

The defense on the other hand … yikes. There were some promising nuggets, like Malcolm Rodriguez grading out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 rookie linebacker and Aidan Hutchinson generated some pressure against the run — but the unit as a whole was abysmal.

Is it an overreaction to peg them as a favorite for the first time since the Matthew Stafford/Matt Patricia era? Let’s find out.

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Commanders vs. Lions Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Commanders and Lions match up statistically:

Commanders vs. Lions DVOA Breakdown
Offense
Defense
Edge
Overall DVOA 13 28
Pass DVOA 8 25
Rush DVOA 20 25
Offense
Defense
Edge
Overall DVOA 8 22
Pass DVOA 15 17
Rush DVOA 3 31

Don’t let the Commanders’ Week 1 victory over the Jaguars fool you. The box score suggests it was a fluky win. 

Washington’s defense was nowhere to be found, losing out on yards per play by almost a full yard and giving up one of the highest early down success rates. Simply put, it struggled mightily limiting Trevor Lawrence and the lowly Jacksonville offense.

Now, Washington gets a hungry Lions team looking to bounce back after a close loss to a Super Bowl sleeper. While they benefited from garbage time, Detroit’s offense was humming from the start behind D’Andre Swift, who graded out as PFF’s most efficient running back in Week 1.

While the Commanders defense was brutal, their offense surprisingly kept them afloat.

Carson Wentz found some life and threw for 313 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Antonio Gibson was heavily featured in both the run and pass attack and racked up 130 total yards (58 rushing and 72 receiving). Given Detroit’s weaknesses at linebacker and in the secondary, the dual-threat back may give them fits.

One area of concern, however, is the number of times the Commanders relied on third-down conversions. Regression could be coming after they went 7-for-10 on third downs. Should they struggle against another bad defense, they may not be able to keep up with the Lions’ scoring pace.

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I will never take a moral victory as a reason to be happy about the Lions, but I just couldn’t help but love what I saw on offense. Sticking to what Dan Campbell was preaching all offseason, this unit is going to heavily feature the run game.

Featuring one of the better duos in the backfield, D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams made their mark. As I mentioned earlier, Swift graded out as the top running back (according to PFF) while Williams delivered in the red zone with two touchdowns.

Washington struggled to stop early downs at one of the lowest rates in Week 1. Should Swift and Williams find pay dirt early, this could set up a more conservative passing attack that should help Jared Goff limit potential mistakes.

While the offense should light it up again, the game will be decided on the defensive side of the ball.

Washington depended on third-down success to sustain drives, an unreliable metric that’s due for regression. While Hutchinson graded strongly against the run, he was nowhere to be found in the pass rush. Should he show up this time around, the Lions could create backfield pressure against Wentz that should aid their weak secondary.

 

Betting Picks

It’s been a long time — 2020, to be specific — since the Lions have been favored at kickoff, and for good reason. They’ve been a laughingstock of a team known for late-game meltdowns and generally embarrassing performances. 

But this team feels different.

Detroit’s offense checked all the boxes I was looking for against the Eagles. Washington’s offense was a mess against the Jags, although the score didn’t reflect it. Losing out in most metrics, this team has some serious flaws. Now, the Commanders defense faces a tougher test.

Should the Lions’ defensive line generate any sort of pressure to ease the load of the secondary, I believe it may be too much for the Commanders to overcome.

FanDuel Quickslip: Lions -1.5 | Bet to 2.5

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