Does the Detroit Lions' Succesful Offseason Make Them a Dark Horse?

Dominic KopekCorrespondent IIAugust 15, 2011

NASHVILLE, TN - CIRCA 2010: In this handout image provided by the NFL,  Stephen Tulloch of the Tennessee Titans poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 at Baptist Sports Park in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions have quietly had one of the best offseasons in the NFL. They have signed the second-highest tackler in football from last season in linebacker Stephen Tulloch, re-signed both of their backup quarterbacks and drafted a solid defensive tackle to help form the best young defensive line in the league.

That's not even mentioning the fact they have signed four more projected starters. 

While the Packers and Bears have been pretty stagnant in free agency, the Detroit Lions have quietly become a dark-horse candidate to take the NFC North title.

The only other major signing in the division was Donovan McNabb for the Vikings, but we all know McNabb's best seasons are behind him. I don't think he is much of an upgrade over Tavaris Jackson at this time in each of their respective careers.

I'm also glad that the Lions don't have to see Sidney Rice anymore, having already had a 200-yard game against Detroit in his short injury-plagued career so far.

Another big name to return to the NFC North is Roy Williams, who will partner up with his ex-favorite coordinator in Mike Martz. Too bad Roy Williams has not had a good season since he left the Lions. That being said, the only time he had a good year was when he was paired up with Mike Martz for the first time in 2006, when he gained over 1300 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Either way, I would trade seeing Sidney Rice twice in a year to Roy Williams any day. 

All the same, the Lions have one of the most exciting young offenses and defenses in all of the NFL. If Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best can all stay healthy, they will all have a shot at making the Pro Bowl this season.

On the opposite side of the ball, Stephen Tulloch, Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril and Louis Delmas all have a real shot at making the Pro Bowl, too. 

So, since the rest of the division didn't make any splashes in the NFL draft or in the offseason so far, the Lions are a clear dark-horse candidate to win the NFC North and make it to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.