Detroit Lions: Are They 2011 Playoff Contenders?

Joye PruittSenior Analyst IJanuary 31, 2011

Detroit Lions: Are They 2011 Playoff Contenders?

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    With a frighteningly good end to a shaky season, the Detroit Lions are in a position to continue their successful stride into the 2011 start. With competition at its peak, there are lots of reasons why they could be knocked right back down into oblivion. With the good always comes the bad, Detroit just has to find a way to sort it all out. 2011 Play off Contenders??

    Why and why not??

Why: Calvin Johnson's Presence Offensively

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    Calvin Johnson has somewhat of a renewed spirit. After playing in his first Pro Bowl, has a new sense of humility and drive. Of course selections like these are a minority contributor to the men he played besides with four or more appearances, but he walked away from the game with a fresh set of eyes not to mention a stellar late regular season run by the Lions.

    Not to mention that he had the best game of the season against a 10-6 Tampa team with 10 catches and a 152 yards. The Buccaneers are 7th in the league against the passing game and Johnson managed to expose them.

Why Not: Roy Williams Syndrome

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    He is the first Lion since Roy Williams’ alternate position selection to be in the Pro Bowl. Sadly, that is not the only similarity between the two. Williams, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys, was quoted to being ecstatic that he could get back to Dallas, back home. He was an immediate impact for the Lions’ offense. But as quick as he took off, his career in Detroit sputtered and died. He was only in the city for 4 years when he just got tired of losing.

    Johnson is also the best player in the wide receiver position the Lions’ have to offer, by far. He has not had the enjoyment of experiencing any postseason games alongside his Detroit comrades or any winning seasons for that matter. And just like with Williams, the #1 and #2 spots in the WR position is turning out fine. But the #3 and #4 is almost counterproductive. Johnson can just as easily gauge his productivity elsewhere and head out.

Why: 2011 NFL Draft Class

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    The 2011 NFL Draft class could prove to be a big win for the Detroit Lions. In an effort to keep their quarterback as healthy as possible, Detroit needs to continue loading up on offensive skills positions. Derek Sherrod, a top OT prospect for this year’s draft could add great movement and a run blocking dimension that the Lions have been lacking for a while now. With Gabe Carimi possibly a little lower in the rankings, Sherrod may be the team’s biggest chance at a offensive line game changer.

Why Not: Detroit's Defensive Worries

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    The Lions could go in the opposite direction and attempt to stock up on their defensive line. This is all well and good seeing as how they are in dire need of defensive help. But, in order to compete with Saints and Patriots offenses, who are 1st and 2nd in the league, the protection must be there. And right now, it’s just not.

Why: Shaun Hill at The Starting Quarterback Position

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    Shaun Hill has had a really good season with the Lions. After starting behind an injured Matthew Stafford, he held up his end of the bargain and competed to the best of his ability. When he is hot, he gets the entire offense going and is able to rally his troops across the finish line, with victories, or close losses.

Why Not: Unstable Quarterback Position

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    The Lions have one of the most unstable quarterback situations in the league. At least they have one, unlike the Tennessee Titans, but Stafford’s injuries make him as useful as a porcelain doll on the field and Hill is not getting any younger. Not to say that his age will be the ultimate determinant, but with no true back up in Stanton, the Lions may be looking towards another uncertain and tumultuous season.