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The ultimate goal for these Lions is not simply to make the Super Bowl, but to win it. Winning the Super Bowl is often more difficult than the entire season leading up to it. Not only do you have to focus on the game, which is the only way these Lions will win, but you have to pander to the media days, the ongoing speculation of who's leaving the team this offseason, the spotlight of every private detail of your lives being broadcast to millions.
It's a process that's taken great teams and watched them make mistakes that cost them the championship. It's also a stage where underdogs have both been annihilated and victorious. Any team that makes the Super Bowl has a chance to win, including the Lions. Unlikely heroes are made, unlikely scapegoats are blamed.
I don't know whom the Lions will face, but each AFC team has proven itself worthy of being on the stage. Even the wild-card Bengals have a chance. OK, probably not, but we've seen weirder upsets. Just look at last year.
The Patriots are the No. 1 seed. They're healthy and Tom Brady knows how to win. The Lions would have to have the same sort of game they did against the Packers and Saints.
The Ravens are No. 2 and possibly the best bet out of the AFC. Their defense is extremely stout and they have just enough offense to win the game. It would be a tough match for the Lions, but if they're here, they can beat anyone.
Houston's in at No. 3. The Texans are a longshot at this point, having lost their starting quarterback. But Arian Foster has taken this team on his back, and he wants the gold just as much as any other player. The Lions' weak run defense would have problems, but their offense will outscore Houston in the end.
Denver slipped in at the last minute. We've seen Detroit face the Broncos already, and there's no reason to believe the rematch won't end the same way.
Pittsburgh is so much like Baltimore it's scary. Top-notch defense, decent offense, problems for the Lions all over the field. The Lions would need no mistakes and play at their best to win this matchup.
Cincinnati vs. Detroit would be a feel-good story, wouldn't it? We had a chance at a No. 6 seed Super Bowl last year, but the Jets came up just short. Could it be this year? If it is, Andy Dalton may be shaking in his boots after Suh's preseason hit.