The Year Of The Lion?

Dan WeissContributor IJuly 13, 2010

DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 30: Cheer squad carries flags on the field before the game between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears on September 30, 2007 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Bears 37-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the 2010 football season fast approaching, fan’s all across the country are starting to shape thoughts of what the season may bring.  With the draft, free agent signings, and new faces to fill out the team, there is always an excitement of what may be.  For my fellow Detroit Lion fans the 2010-2011 season should be no different for us.

With the coaching staff still Intact from last season, Matthew Stafford returning as the unquestioned starter at quarterback, Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith at running back, Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson at wide receiver, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler at tight end, an Improved offensive and defensive line, and upgrades in the secondary. 

This gives the team something that has been missing for over a decade, stability for the players with their scheme, and legitimate NFL talent to work with.

Most fans come in to the season with great expectations as to what the season may bring, only to have disappointment take hold.  But my question is why, why can this not be the year of the Lion?  Why can this year not be the year that Detroit can finally break loose? 

You can look at what teams in history have done before, and I see a chance that they can actually have success.  The St. Louis Rams through the late 90’s were one of if not the worst team in the NFL.  The Dallas Cowboys coming from disaster in 1989 and 1990 to go onto dominance of the league for years, to the San Francisco 49ers of the 60’s and 70’s rising up with the 80’s.  The list goes on and on even to the most recent Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

The St. Louis Rams team in 1999; they signed Trent Green to lead them and subsequently went down in preseason.  In comes a former grocery store clerk and leads them to a championship, most people were ready to write off the Rams season after that.

During the 2001 season for the New England Patriots Drew Bledsoe was injured.  The Pats were forced to go with an unproven QB who went 1-3 passing for 6 yards.  Tom Brady turned out to be the spark that would ignite arguably one of the greatest teams in history.

Am I saying that the Lions are going to go onto winning the Super Bowl?  No, but there is always the hope that a new season brings.  But when looking over the 2010 schedule for the season, is it really that far out of sight for a playoff run?  Teams generally turn the corner dramatically from one year to the next, so once again I ask why can’t the Lions?

With the schedule being harder than most teams have to contend with, I’ve decided to give some predictions to how I think Detroit will fare.

Week 1:  At Chicago - The Lions head to Soldier Field to take on the Bears, last year the Bears showed the NFL that they don’t have the great team everyone thought.  They added Julius Peppers sure, but they never addressed their greatest need; which was adding a top wide receiver. Lions 1-0

Week 2:  VS Philadelphia - The Eagles come to town, with Kevin Kolb taking over for Donovan McNabb there is a huge question mark at the quarterback position.  McNabb was an all-pro quarterback and Kolb has some pretty big shoes to fill, along with team chemistry to build. Lions 2-0

Week 3:  At Minnesota - There is still the question mark of Favre and whether or not he is going to play.  The Lions played the Vikings well last year in their first meeting, and hung in the second until the fourth quarter.  Having an improved pass rush, better play from the secondary, and an improved run game with Best and Smith; the Lions should be able to pull this one out.  Lions 3-0

Week 4:  At Green Bay -The Lions haven’t been able to leave with a victory since 1991. Aaron Rodgers has shown that he is indeed a legitimate heir to the Favre throne, the passing game is still too much for the Lions secondary.  The Packers leave Detroit searching for a victory.  Lions 3-1

Week 5:  VS St. Louis – The Rams come into Ford Field and with a team that has been as weak or weaker then the Lions, this should be a winnable game; yes I remember last season.  With an improved defensive line and a better secondary the Lions control the trenches.  Lions 4-1

From this point on it will get very rough with upcoming games at the New York Giants, home against Washington and the New York Jets, at Buffalo and Dallas.  This could leave the Lions sitting at 5-5 heading into the Thanksgiving matchup with the Patriots.

If Detroit can pull out an upset or two during this stretch, maybe the momentum and confidence will carry them into the playoffs.   Once the playoffs begin, anything can happen from there, as history has shown it only takes that one spark.

So to all my fellow Lions fans out there, I say to you.  Hold your head up high and wear your colors proud, for this always could be the season we have all dreamed of.  At worst if we have to endure another season of failure, the disappointment will be nothing new to us Lions fans.