Here we are, just two weeks away from the official start of training camp.
Much of the offseason excitement was generated around the drafting of DT Ndamukong Suh and RB Javhid Best, as well as new additions DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and DT Corey Williams.
There have been other players added to the mix to cause excitement as well. Players such as Chris Houston, Dre' Bly, C.C. Brown, and Amari Spievey have all been brought in to team with safety Louis Delmas in hopes to shore up the much-maligned secondary.
But even with all of the positive talk from fans here in the Bleacher Report as well as several sports experts stating the Lions are finally on the right track, there is that little voice in the back of all Lions fans, quietly whispering, "Don't get your hopes up. Remember, William Clay Ford Sr. still owns the team. They haven't had a winning season since 2000."
Nasty little voice that one.
And in reality, for the 46 years since William Ford, Sr. took sole ownership of the Lions, they have played 45 seasons. And only 15 times have they recorded a winning seasons (that means at least one game over .500).
So even the most faithful Lions fan has to be somewhat skeptical, don't you think?
Even with skepticism, everyone has to admit over the last two drafts and free agent seasons, the Lions have accumulated some pretty darn good talent.
That being said, I'm going to give kind of a wide overview on both sides of the ball.
Nothing to in depth since there are so many other writers out there that can do it so much better than I.
Begins and ends with Matthew Stafford. In the last quarter of the 2009 season, he took control over the team. He got in players' faces when he needed to and he patted them on the butt when needed.
Terry Bradshaw, a winner of four Super Bowl Rings, said of Stafford: "I think (the Lions) are doing the right thing with (Stafford)," Bradshaw said. "He looks like the kind of guy who gets into it and shows he's mad. That's a guy (Stafford) whose leading them.
"I like him. I like him a lot. I like what he brings. (The Lions) still have a long way to go, but they're definitely on the right track."
Mr. Bradshaw knows a thing or two about winning and leading.
Martin Mayhew has gone out and gotten some good weapons to add to the arsenal: Nate Burleson, Tony Schefler, and Jahvid Best to go along with Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith, Brandon Pettigrew, and Bryan Johnson.
My sleeper in all of this is Mr. Irrelevant, WR Tim Toone. I just got a feeling he could be a Wes Welker-type of receiver for the Lions which could be a huge boost.
The offensive line still worries me. They have upgraded the interior with LG Rob Simms and getting Stephan Peterman back from injury. Both tackle spots (Jeff Backus and Cherelious Gosder) have a lot to prove this year. I really hope that Sims can help Backus in the blocking scheme because I really don't want to complain about Backus for yet another year.
What was once a weakness may now be considered a strength. Getting Suh with the No. 1 pick, signing Vanden Bosch, and trading for Williams has upgraded the defensive line a lot.
There is hope that Cliff Avril and Sammie Lee Hill will also step up their games, which would give the Lions there best defensive line in a decade.
The linebacking corps may be a little suspect now with the departures of Ernie Sims and Larry Foote. Julian Peterson anchors a young and active set of linebackers. Zack Follet, Jordan Dizon, and DeAndre Levy are getting their shot to play on a regular basis. They need to dictate the defense and help the defensive line stuff the running game.
A huge question mark, as it has been for the last three years, is the secondary. Dre Bly may not be a starter, but he does still have some game as well as some veteran leadership that Louis Delmas can benefit from.
Chris Houston and C.C. Brown are decent defensive backs and Amari Speivey has the talent to be a shutdown type of player. Hopefully, with the improved pass rush, quarterbacks will have to hurry some throws and allow the secondary to make some plays rather than get burned.
I'm still hoping for that 8-8 season, which would be a huge improvment on recent years. If they achieve that, it would be the best record they had since 2000, when they went 9-7.
But my gut tells me no more than six wins this year. Still a good improvement. The first four games, three against division rivals, will be a huge test. The three division games against the Bears, Vikings, and Packers are all on the road. If they can split or go 3-1, a six-win season would be very reachable. To be safe, let's call it 2-2.
Then the next four games, three of them are at home but two are against playoff caliber teams, the Giants and the Jets. Two winnable games against the Rams and Redskins at home, this set of four games goes 2-2. The Lions would still be at .500 going 4-4 over eight games.
Next set comes away at Buffalo, away at Dallas, Patriots come to town for Turkey Day, and Chicago comes to town. As an optimist, I'm going to say the Lions go 3-1 with wins against Buffalo, Patriots, and Bears.
The Lions are now at 7-5.
Of the games that I am picking to win, the opener at Chicago and the win over the Patriots on Turkey Day are the iffy ones. Should they lose those, the Lions end up with a 6-10 record.
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