Let the predictions for next season begin. Why do we insist on predicting win totals this early in the New Year? Because we can, that's why. Nothing makes sports fans feel better about their team than predicting their future success, and I am no different.
Looking at the 2011 schedule the first thing I notice is how much easier it looks on paper than its 2010 counterpart. There is no question that trading the NFC East and AFC East for the NFC South and AFC West is a great deal.
The talent level in the NFC South and AFC West is much easier to handle over the course of a season. There is nothing like replacing the Giants, Jets, and Patriots for the likes of the Raiders, Panthers, and Broncos. Goodbye Tom Brady. Hello Jimmy Clausen.
In the NFC North I see the Lions going four and two. I predict a sweep over the Vikings and a split with both Green Bay and Chicago. I almost went with five and one in the division with two wins against Chicago as well, but I am trying to temper my "homeristic" tendencies for the purposes of this article. Yeah, right.
Against the AFC South I see the Lions winning two of the four games. I think they will win their games against both the Buccaneers and the Panthers, as well as be competitive with the Falcons and the Saints. This brings their overall win total to a resounding six wins.
Versus the AFC West I see the possibility for 3 victories. I have them marked for wins against the Raiders, Broncos, and Chiefs. I would have picked the Chiefs had it been an away game, but since it is in the friendly confines of Ford Field, I think the Lions pull it out. That adds up to nine victories so far. How the tides are turning.
The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers round out the 2011 schedule. I think the Lions will win both games. The Lions should beat the 49ers at home; I just don't see them losing that game. Dallas however, is my upset special of the year. I think they are going to be confident going into Dallas knowing that if they would have played a full four quarters against the Cowboys this year, they probably would have pulled out a victory.
There you have it. 11 wins in one season. More than equaling their win total from the previous three campaigns. Every year a team comes out of nowhere to make the playoffs and this year, the Detroit Lions will be that team. Let the debate begin.