The NFL Schedule was announced last Tuesday, April 14, and the prognosis paints a bleak outlook for the Detroit Lions in 2009. You see, the Lions will be playing the AFC North—one of the toughest divisions in all of the NFL—in the upcoming season.
None of these four teams will be an easy out for the hapless Lions who are coming off an unprecedented 0-16 year. The odds of the Lions winning any of these games will be ridiculously slim.
To complicate matters, the competition in their own division (the NFC North) just got a lot tougher with the acquisition of Jay Cutler by the Chicago Bears. The normally defensively staunch Bears have always been a tough out for the Lions. Now, with the additional firepower on offense, they will be an even tougher matchup for the Lions.
The other NFC North teams are no cakewalk either. The Green Bay Packers have arguably the toughest cornerbacks in the NFL (and a very potent offense), while the Minnesota Vikings have the man-wonder, Adrian Peterson (and a very opportunistic defense that is coming off a solid playoff performance). The future looks bleak for the Lions.
It does not get easier because there are still more challenges facing the Lions next season. Their first six games listed in order are versus the New Orleans Saints, Vikings, Redskins, Bears, Steelers, and Packers. The Lions will be very lucky to go 1-5 in that stretch.
More than likely, they will be last in their own division and they will struggle just to be out of last place in the entire NFL. They very likely will be 0-6 and out of playoff contention by week six. For a team coming off a 0-16 year and starting off with a new coach, this is the absolute recipe for disaster.
You have probably heard from various news sources that project Matthew Stafford to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft on Friday. They have so many sexy reasons for why Stafford is the best QB in the draft and why the Lions should be drafting him first overall. Everyone is using the success of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco to butter the perception that Stafford can somehow turn the Lions' fortunes around. What a fantasy!
What a nightmare it would be for the Lions to invest so much in what is tantamount to a pipe dream. The odds are incredibly stacked against Stafford being some kind of messiah for the mess that is the Lions.
The best thing for the Detroit Lions to do is to draft a game breaker, a leader, and a work-horse. They absolutely need to draft someone that will be a legacy player and the new face of the Lions.
Their best bet is to not draft a skill player (QB, RB, WR, CB, or SS/FS) with the premier pick. These positions can be drafted later in the round, in the later rounds, or next year when there are even more quality players projected to declare for the NFL Draft.
The Lions need to draft a lineman (offensive or defensive) or a linebacker with the first overall pick. There happens to be one man who absolutely fits the mold; his name is Aaron Curry. He is everything the Lions could possibly need right now. Stafford is a dream.
Other players the Lions need to be considering are: Jason Smith, Brian Orakpo, or Aaron Maybin. They will need these positions to be solid in the upcoming season.