The Detroit Lions' transformation from perennial loser to NFL contender was supposed to be complete last season. In typical Lions' fashion, they failed to deliver a season resembling anything but an utter disappointment.
The Lions offense never got going, and their defense was porous; and don't even get me started on the special teams. They finished 4-12, and whatever optimism the Martin Mayhew/Jim Schwartz era had generated, vanished.
The Lions are back to square one in 2013. Expectations are low, and that might not be a bad thing.
The underdog is a familiar role for them, except now, they actually have the weapons to make teams pay for taking them for granted.
Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are young, talented and capable of dominating performances.
Together, they put the Lions in a great position to rebound from the failure of 2012; but they're not the only reason.
Grantland.com's Bill Barnwell recently wrote that, out of all the losing teams in 2012, the Lions have the best shot of making the playoffs this season.
He cited their awful record in close games, difficult schedule, low fumble-recovery rate and turnover differential as the reasons the Lions will rebound this season.
Odds are the Lions will improve in each of those categories, and that alone will account for a handful of additional wins.
Barnwell makes some good points, but there are more obvious factors that play into the Lions' favor this year as well.
Here are five reasons the Lions will make their fans proud in 2013.