Why They Will: Detroit actually looked like a professional football team. The team’s passing game looks to be an asset, with Matthew Stafford appearing like he will be able to mature into the front-line quarterback the Lions had been hoping for. Along with wide receiver Calvin Johnson and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, the unit is young and talented. If the trio had not been beset by injuries, the unit would likely have placed higher than 21st.
The Lions also have the benefit of a much better-looking front office, with head coach Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew working to change the culture of the long-suffering franchise. Also, if St. Louis feels compelled to address the need for a quarterback, Ndamukong Suh falls right into Detroit’s lap.
Why They Won’t: The Lions defense is still atrocious, ranking dead last in the league in total yards and last against the pass. If the offense was settled, they could focus their attentions on solely on the group, but Detroit still needs to address problems at running back and O-line, especially finding a suitable left tackle to replace overmatched Jeff Backus.
They are also trying to make strides while playing in a solid NFC North, with Minnesota and Green Bay both perennial threats and Chicago looking to avenge its disappointing 7-9 finish.
Final Verdict: Detroit will continue to make strides. As long as Mayhew has a solid draft and can find a free agent or two, the team should be able to crawl into four- to five-win territory next year. They aren’t going to be fighting for a playoff spot right away, but they are slowly undoing the damage of the Matt Millen regime.