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Despite the lingering Madden Curse that has been bestowed upon Calvin Johnson, I feel that there will be other reasons for the Detroit Lions to take a step back in 2012.
The Lions have one of the most entertaining offenses in the league, as Matthew Stafford joined the elite 5,000-yards-in-a-season passing club, along with Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, in 2011.
Still, the Lions offense is mainly predicated around the pass in the rugged NFC North. As the Packers may have shown last year, there needs to be an effective ground game and a defense to make a long playoff run.
The rushing attack has been absent since Jahvid Best went out with a concussion after Week 7 last year. They'll still be without Best's services, since he has been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list and will miss at least the first six games of the regular season.
That means the Lions will turn to Kevin Smith and Mikel LeShoure to try and add a ground game for this year's team. With LeShoure's suspension for the first two games of the regular season and Smith's injury-prone ways, it doesn't look good.
The defense has its problems as well, despite it being one of the most physical defensive lines in football.
The problem will be the back seven, as the secondary routinely gave up plays last season and ranked 22nd in the NFL in passing yards.
The Lions have the talent to take home the NFC North, but they won't get close without a legit running game and defense.