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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.