NFL Predictions 2011: How Much Detroit Lions Kool-Aid Are You Drinking?
The start of the 2011 Detroit Lions season is only a few days away. I am excited and I know you Lions fans cannot wait either.
While reading almost every single article on the Lions that I could find the past four months, I've seen variances in fan predictions. I consider myself optimistic, but am afraid of Detroit Lions history.
We all know what happened in 2008 when we went 4-0 in the preseason.
Well, yet again, we are the preseason champs.
There are so many differences in this team from the one three years ago, and I believe the 2011 team will not follow a similar fate. But what do you think?
Our win/loss predictions don't mean a whole lot, but the national media’s expectations are exciting. It makes me feel good that we are not the only ones who notice the improvements this franchise has made.
This slideshow ranks your level of fandom (Kool-Aid). It will provide you with the description of a “pessimist” Lions fan, a “pessimistic realist” fan, a “realist” fan, an “optimistic realist” fan or a full-blown “optimist.” Each category has a prediction of a specific number of wins. Read on and find out how much Detroit Lions Kool-Aid you are drinking.
Pessimist (5 or Less Wins)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The "pessimist" Lions fan predicts:
Matt Stafford will have another serious injury and be done for the season. Suh will underperform. Calvin Johnson will look frustrated with losing and tell the media he’s happy to be a free agent after this season is over. Best will be re-injured. Fairley will look like he shouldn’t have been a Round 1 draft pick. Our LB and CB acquisitions in the offseason won't pan out. The OL will be abysmal. We will have zero running game.
Even though I look down on people like you, and I don’t think your perception of this team is accurate, I have to respect your opinions. Why? History.
The Detroit Lions have been known as the worst sports franchise of the past 20 years. They not only accumulated some of the worst losing streaks of any team in sports history, but they also fielded the worst NFL football team ever in 2008.
People have become so numb from all of the negativity and losing for the past 50 years, that they simply cannot fathom any sort of positivity in the Lions organization. Even though they are fans, and they watch every game, they almost subconsciously expect the worst from their Lions.
You may give numerous reasons that the Lions are worse than last year. Last year’s “easier” schedule allowed them to win six games. You take nothing positive out of the end-of-the-year four-game win streak.
The GB win was because Rodgers got knocked out. The Minny and Miami wins were a result of those teams not having much to play for. Our “bad” OL is one year older. Mikel Leshoure, our one true hope for a decent run game, is out for the season. Even if Stafford stays healthy, he’s inexperienced. Our secondary didn’t get better.
You predict a five-wins-or-less season, the coaching staff will be fired and replaced and you have no hope for the Lions in 2011.
Pessimistic Realist (6-7 Wins)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
The "pessimistic realist" Lions fan predicts:
Matt Stafford, again, will be constantly hurt throughout the season, but perform well when he’s on the field. Hill and Stanton will prove serviceable, but they won't win the Lions a lot of games. Suh will get decent numbers, but teams will start to throw short passes to neutralize the DL push.
Calvin Johnson will have a good year, but won't want to come back because no progress will be made. Best will have another turf toe injury or suffer from constant concussions. He'll play decent, but not to his full potential. Fairley will play a couple of games, but appear to be a project.
Our LB acquisitions will play solid, but the secondary will be brutal. The OL is slightly worse from last year and will provide no run blocking. Keliand Williams will not provide short yardage run success and Harrison and Morris will be below average.
We have had high expectations for the regular season stemming from preseason success many times throughout the years. In 2007, the Lions posted a 7-9 record, so the optimism was very high going into the 2008 season. We all know how that turned out.
Even though the 2011 Lions made many moves in the offseason, Matt Stafford looks healthy and our starters played extremely well in the preseason, there is still a high possibility that this year could end up like last year. If the same injuries occur and we cannot close out close games in the fourth quarter again, we will only win six or seven games.
You may give numerous reasons that the Lions are no better than last year. Our draft results were highly praised, but Leshoure is out for the season and Fairley and Young have been hurt all training camp.
So, the rookies from the draft have had no impact. We did not make a big splash in free agency and, even though the moves we made were solid, nobody we acquired will have any significant impact. The momentum the Lions gained from the four-game winning streak last year will not carry over to 2011. That sentiment is highly overblown.
You predict a six- or seven-win season and we need to reassess our coaches and team to prepare for 2012.
Realist (8-9 Wins)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
The "realist" Lions fan predicts:
Matt Stafford will have a good season, but not Pro-Bowl caliber. Hill and Stanton will play a couple of games when Stafford sprains his elbow. Suh will have good numbers, but Avril and Williams will take advantage of his double teams and have better stats.
Calvin Johnson will have a good year and sign a new deal. Best will have a few nagging injuries throughout the season, but will be a top 20 RB. Fairley will come back by Week 5 and fit in well with the DL rotation, but he will provide nothing spectacular.
Our LBs will be slightly above average and our CBs will be average. The OL will be similar to last year and will provide good pass blocking, but not much run blocking. Harrison and Morris will be good in screen plays, but have trouble running up the middle.
Even though we would be an average team, it would still be significant progress. Jim Schwartz would have taken our team from zero wins, to two, to six, then to eight or nine. I’d say that’s pretty good considering where this team has been.
While our players show progress, it’s possible nobody makes a huge leap from last year. The only ray of hope is Matthew Stafford, but realistically he’s only played 13 games in two years. He will definitely hit a wall this year. Whether he can show brilliance and move past it or slows down will be the difference between a 10-win season and an eight- to nine-win season.
I hate to say it, but even though many people in the national media are picking Detroit to make the playoffs, nine wins will not cut it. The NFCN and the rest of the NFC is just too good this year.
You may give numerous reasons that the Lions are slightly better than last year. Matt Stafford played well in the preseason, but he still has much to learn. The offensive line is aging and will be the major glaring hole in our roster this year. They provide no run blocking and our RBs cannot run outside every play.
The secondary is very subpar and will let up some huge plays this year. The defensive line will keep us in most of our games, but we’re still a team learning to win. Schwartz is also still learning to coach and will make a few costly mistakes. This will cost us points and hamper in-game momentum.
KVB, the offensive line and Hanson may grow old right in front of our eyes. They were ineffective last year and this season they’re one year older.
You predict an eight- or nine-win season and we don’t make the playoffs. Progress has been made and with OL upgrades in the offseason we should be a double-digit win team in 2012.
Optimistic Realist (10 Wins)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
The "optimistic realist" Lions fan predicts:
Matt Stafford will have a great season and play all 16 games. Suh and Avril will have Pro Bowl years. Calvin Johnson will have a monster Pro Bowl year and sign a new deal. Nate Burleson will prove to be the perfect No. 2 receiver and have the best numbers of his career. Best will have a great year and have 1,300 combined yards of offense.
Fairley will come back by Week 5 and provide good numbers. He'll be the perfect No. 3 DT to spell Suh and Williams. Our LBs will gel together well and be stout against the run. Louis Delmas will have a phenomenal year and make his first Pro Bowl.
The CBs will be above average. The OL will be healthier than last year and provide great pass blocking and above-average run blocking. Keiland Williams will end up to be the perfect 3rd-and-1 and goal line back, while Harrison and Morris will backup Best well in the screen game.
Detroit Lions fans have been waiting for a season like this. Everything comes together and the Lions pile up some great victories. Jim Schwartz and Martin Mayhew prove to us they knew what they were doing all along and the plan they set forth three years ago will fix this once-decrepit franchise.
While fans want much more, and the likes of Stafford, Suh, and Johnson strive to get this franchise a Super Bowl, 10 wins is a success for the 2011 season. Even though the NFC is very strong, 10 wins would most likely give the Lions a Wild Card bid. They would qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and the hype this team has been granted in the preseason would truly be warranted.
You could give reasons that the Lions will be very good this year. Matt Stafford looks fully healthy and his leadership and strong arm will propel him into a top 10 QB. The offensive line has played together for a long time and even though they won’t provide great run blocking, they will repeat their performance from last year and be a top six pass-blocking unit.
The secondary has improved with the emergence of Amari Spievey and a fully healthy Louis Delmas, and Eric Wright and Chris Houston will be a solid CB tandem. The defensive line got better with a year under their belts and the addition of Nick Fairley. They scare QBs and will pile up the sacks. Suh will be dominant once again. Schwartz has changed the mindset of this franchise, while Martin Mayhew has changed its identity.
You predict a 10-win season and a playoff berth for the Detroit Lions in 2011. A strong playoff run is in our near future.
Optimist (11 or More Wins)
Marc Serota/Getty Images
The "optimist" Lions fan predicts:
Matt Stafford will have a Pro Bowl season and become one of the top five QBs in the league. Our defensive line will become the most feared group in the league, and Suh and Avril will make the Pro Bowl.
Calvin Johnson will have a record-breaking Pro Bowl year and sign a new deal. Nate Burleson and Titus Young will become the best 2/3 WR tandem in the league. Pettigrew will make the Pro Bowl. Best will have a great year and have 1,800 combined yards of offense. Fairley will come back by Week 5 and be up for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Our LBs will gel together well and Tulloch will lead the league in tackles. Louis Delmas will have a pro-bowl year.
The CBs will be phenomenal. The OL will be the best pass-blocking unit in the league and their run-blocking woes were highly overblown. The Lions will become a top 10 running team. Keiland Williams will have a breakout season, propelling himself to the No. 2 back, while Harrison will have one of the best seasons of his career.
We will become a top five defense and a top 10 offense. We'll blow everybody out of the water with our success in 2011. A Super Bowl run will be in our near future.
Of course, all of these things do not have to happen for the Lions to have 11-plus wins this year. That could be accomplished with a few lucky breaks in turnovers and referee calls. But the optimistic Lions fan definitely thinks this way.
I am drinking a heavy portion of Kool-Aid and I predict the Lions will win 10 games this year. I consider myself an "optimistic realist." While I would be very happy with a nine-win season, and I think that nine wins is the closest thing to reality this year, 10 wins is not out of the question.
I think Stafford will stay healthy and have a great year. I think the OL will struggle at times, but provide good pass blocking. The acquisitions of Stephen Tulloch, Justin Durant and Eric Wright will prove successful. Drafting Nick Fairley and Titus young will be considered great.
The Detroit Lions will not lose games because of a lack of talent anymore. They match up well with every team in the league. Bad turnovers, bad coaching decisions and penalties will keep this team from being good in 2011. I am drinking the Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid, but how much are you drinking? Comment below.