Detroit is 3 years removed from an infamous winless season in 2008. In that year, they were 4-0 in the preseason only to falter in the games that matter. The 0-16 record gifted the team with the 2009 first pick overall and they used it in QB Matthew Stafford. Stafford was supposedly the savior QB for Detroit. He was the one anointed to break the curse of Bobby Layne who declared in 1958 that Detroit will not win in 50 years. Well, it’s year 53 now and man who was supposed to break the curse just came off a very good pre-season. If Stafford will be healthy throughout the 2011 season then Super Bowl in January for the Lions will not be a far-fetched dream.
After finishing 2009 with a 2-14 record, the Lions used the second over-all pick to get Ndamukong Suh. Suh, a defensive tackle, easily won the defensive rookie of the year and got a Pro-bowl nod. He is an integral part in arguably the best defensive line in the NFL today. He is expected to be a menace to the opposing QBs and help continue Detroit’s unbeaten streak since the last few games of the 2010 season.
In the 2011 Draft, the Lions picked another dangerous defensive tackle in Nick Fairley. Although the rookie has been sidelined in the pre-season, he is expected to pair up with Suh to make up the most explosive DT tandem of all-time.
Who are the other players to watch:
WR Calvin Johnson – Megatron had a big year last year even if he played with 3 different QBs. With a healthy Stafford expect Johnson to have more spectacular plays on any given Sunday. If you think 2010 was a great year for him, 2011′s performance will definitely dwarf last year’s numbers.
DE Cliff Avril – He will definitely get multiple chances to make big plays this year as teams will have a hard time containing Detroit’s DTs. He could lead in sacks if he will play as intense as last year.
TE Brandon Pettigrew – Last year, he led the league dropped passes but nevertheless produced really good numbers. This year, Pettigrew could be a favorite target of Stafford as Detroit will continue to employ dominating 2-tight end sets. If he will have better hands this year then he can be a top-flight TE in the league and deserve his first round status.
Rushing – With the injury of Mikel Leshoure, the running game will again revolve around Jahvid Best who has not shown much in the preseason. The Lions signed Jerome Harrison to fill a spot at RB and to give the running game another look. An effective running game will definitely boost the stock of Matt Stafford and the Detroit receivers.
Blocking – After 2 straight years of seeing Stafford have a short season, the blocking unit needs to protect prized QB better this year. The 2010 figures were good but injuries during the preseason has not helped in preparing the No.1 line for the upcoming battles of the season.
Secondary – With the defensive line that they have, teams will be forced to pass and test the secondary that has been in the bottom of the league rankings in past few seasons. Many hope that this year, the potent front seven will help the CBs and the safeties improved their numbers.
Projection: 10-6 Wildcard berth; They will finish 2nd to Green Bay in the division (11-5)
This is probably the year that the curse will be broken if Stafford continues his amazing play and avoid injury the whole year. No team in the NFL would love to face the Lions. They are not as beatable as before and it can be dangerous for the QBs to face the 2011 Lions. The offense will be exciting to see and the defense is downright scary. There are still holes and rooms for improvement but in the salary-cap age, the 2011 Lions team is probably the best ever assembled by the Ford family since they bought the Lions.
The blog might be very optimistic but this outlook was written with a prayer that things can go well for Detroit that is suffering from a very long title drought.
- Detroit Lions: 5 Things Fans Learned About the Team in the 2011 NFL Preseason (bleacherreport.com)
- 2011 NFL Predictions: 7 Reasons Detroit Lions Can Win NFC North (bleacherreport.com)
- Fantasy Football Sleepers: Top 5 Sleepers on the Detroit Lions Roster (bleacherreport.com)
- 2011 NFL Season: Can the Detroit Lions Clinch a Wild Card Playoff Berth? (bleacherreport.com)
- Detroit Lions Are Becoming Dangerously Overhyped (bleacherreport.com)
- Bills vs. Lions live stream – Watch Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions Online Free, September 1 2011 (oleole.com)
- 2011 Detroit Lions: Who Will Win the Battle of the Backfield? (football.rawsignal.com)