Before the opening of the 2011 NFL season, very few would have guessed that the Detroit Lions or Buffalo Bills would be competitive. But through Week 5, Detroit stands at 5-0, while the Bills boast a 4-1 mark.
Both these teams have silenced their critics and given their fans something to cheer about, and at this point in the season, it is fair to say that these teams are for real. The only question on anybody's mind at this point is, "Which team has a legitimate Super Bowl shot?"
On one hand, the Detroit Lions are one of two undefeated teams in the NFL. On the other hand, however, the second undefeated team is the Lions division rivals and defending champions: the Green Bay Packers.
Detroit has proven that they are for real, though. Calvin Johnson has emerged as a top-teir threat and wideout, with nine touchdowns through only five games. Matthew Stafford has stayed healthy up to this point and has been phenomenal, throwing for 1,436 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions.
What makes this offense better is its balance. Stafford's dominance in the passing game has opened up major holes for Jahvid Best, who is having a solid sophomore season. While the numbers are not jaw-dropping, they have not needed to be. However, the Lions have been able to run the ball late in games to burn the clock and gain clutch yards in tough situations.
The Lions' defense has been impressive as well. Through five weeks, the defense has 11 takeaways, trailing only the San Francisco 49ers and the Packers in the AFC in that category. The defense has also logged 12 sacks led by three from Kyle Vanden Bosch. Linebacker DeAndre Levy has been fantastic, leading the team in tackles while also forcing one fumble and making three interceptions.
The Bills have been an interesting team to watch as well, their lone loss coming at the hands of an upstart Cincinnati Bengals team on a last second field goal.
Like the Lions, the Bills offense has been fantastic. However, while Detroit excels in the passing game, handing the ball to Fred Jackson has been Buffalo's bread and butter. Jackson leads the attack, already with 480 yards and five touchdowns, and C.J. Spiller has been an unbelievable change of pace, averaging over seven yards a carry.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been fantastic as well. In the 2011 season, he has completed just over 65 percent of his passes, throwing for 10 touchdowns and four picks. He has also spread out the ball efficiently, with four targets over 15 catches. Steve Johnson has been the top target, however, hauling in 28 passes for 343 yards.
The Bills defense has been fantastic as well. Buffalo's defense has been spectacular as well. The Bills lead the NFL with 16 takeaways due to an enormous 12 interceptions. However, they are last in the league with only four sacks, a problem that Marcell Darius was supposed to fix but has not been able to.
Overall, both these teams look like serious contenders. However, the Lions are a more complete team. They pressure the passer, and Calvin Johnson is one of the most unstoppable receivers in the NFL. Thanksgiving is going to lead to an interesting game between the Lions and Packers, who are the two clear favorites to win the NFC.
The Bills will have a tougher path, having to get through the Patriots, Ravens and Texans to get to a Super Bowl. Neither team will have an easy path, but the Bills holes both inability to rush the passer and not having a premier wide receiver leads to some playoff troubles.
Both these teams will have a solid season no doubt, but the Lions have the better shot at a Super Bowl.