There's no excusing this season. The Lions played badly in multiple facets of the game and had multiple problems off and on the field.
They also played the hardest schedule in the NFL according to Paul Kuharsky, ESPN.com AFC South blogger. Kuharsky has adjusted strength of schedule for the NFL, removing head to head games or in his words taking out "a team’s own influence on its strength of schedule."
Or as NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert puts it, "Kuharsky's adjusted strength of schedule removes each team's head-to-head result from the combined winning percentage of its opponents."
Again, this is not to remove any fault from the team for a poor record, merely to give some perspective on a brutal season.
As swift and far a fall as it appeared to be—and the drop from 2011 to 2012 was precipitous—it was helped along by an exceedingly tough schedule.
We know the Lions are talented and seven of their games were lost by a touchdown or less—given the (adjusted) difficulty of the schedule, there's a good chance this team is nowhere as bad as their record indicates.
There are aspects of it that need to be addressed—the secondary, a firm run game, healthy and effective receivers—before they are truly as good as they appeared in 2011.
They just might not be as bad as they looked in 2012 either.
On to the rest of the NFC North.
Meanwhile, Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times says Bears Legend Mike Dikta believes the next head coach could be very special.
Noted draft guru and sometimes wide receiver Nate Burleson believes the Lions should take the best player available and not focus on a specific position, according to MLive.com's Justin Rogers.
Our own draft guru, Matt Miller, joins Aaron Nagler to talk about the Lions' draft needs and who they might target in this video.
This weekend, the Packers find themselves in an unusual role, playing the part of underdogs. The Press-Gazette's Mike Vandermause says that's just fine with the Packers.
The Star-Tribune's Sid Hartman says that unlike after 2011, the Vikings of 2012 do not need a complete overhaul.
Rookie Greg Childs' season was preempted when he tore the patellar tendons in both knees back in August, the second patellar injury he'd had in the last three years. Childs is feeling upbeat about a return, though, according to 1500 ESPN's Tom Pelissero.
Check out the B/R NFC North Facebook page. Like us and keep up with everything NFC North on Bleacher Report.
Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.