The Detroit Lions reached the playoffs this past season after a 12 year drought, falling to the New Orleans Saints, 45-28. Their last playoff win dates back to January 5, 1992, when the Lions beat the Cowboys in a decisive fashion. Soon after, the Lions lost in the NFC Championship game 41-10 to the Washington Redskins.
The Lions, a relatively young team, finished the 2011 season with a 10-6 record, finishing second in the NFC North division behind the Green Bay Packers.
After a sigh of relief that quarterback Matt Stafford did not suffer another injury and had his best season yet, the Lions found a new distraction for the 2011 season. Ndamukong Suh supplied a lot of controversy this season, including a stomping of a Packers' lineman, multiple game suspensions and a peculiar car accident.
After reaching the playoffs and getting embarrassed by Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, the Lions shouldn't get comfortable playing past January.
A key phrase in sports is "defense wins championships." The Lions possess one of the young, talented quarterbacks in the league who averaged 300.9 passing yards per game, finishing fourth in the league. They also have the talents of Calvin Johnson, who led the league in receiving yards with over 1,600. However, those might be the only good stats this team has to offer.
The Lions rushing game rarely existed this season, finishing 29th in the league in rushing yards per game at 95.2. First string running back Jahvid Best did get injured six games into the season, while rushing for 390 yards and two touchdowns in that span. Their defense wasn't much better. The Lions defense finished 22nd and 23rd in the league in opponents passing yards and rushing yards per game.
The Lions can not rely only on the duo of Stafford and Johnson to win ball games this upcoming season. With talents such as Aaron Rodgers, Matt Forte, and Adrian Peterson in their division, the Lions will have too much to handle to reach the postseason.
Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will be the NFC North's favorite to win the division. With a healthy Jay Cutler, explosive running back Matt Forte, as well as fifth overall rush defense in the league, the Chicago Bears will be a possible threat for the Packers. This leaves the quarterback-less Vikings and the Detroit Lions vying to finish atop the NFC North and regain the taste of the postseason.
The Lions had a great year, don't get me wrong. They broke a 20 year playoff drought and showcased some of their young talent. However, they will regress because they do not contain enough talent on their team, and too much talent exists on their competing teams. If the Bears had Jay Cutler this entire season, who knows if the Lions would have even reached the playoffs.
The Packers are already a team being talked about to reach the Super Bowl next year, having that crucial veteran experience. The Lions lack that veteran leadership and experience. They might be young and exciting to watch, but with only a one-two combo of Stafford and Johnson on offense, and a sub-par defense, the Lions lack experience and top caliber talent.
The Lions gave their fans an exciting season to watch, but without a veteran leader, a true running game and better defensive play, don't expect to see the Lions reach the postseason in 2012.