NFL Team Previews: Detroit Lions

Pigskin HeavenCorrespondent IAugust 30, 2009

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 28:  Head coach Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions watches the action on the field against the Indianapolis Colts at Ford Field on August 28, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Colts 18-17. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Pigskin Heaven's Sascha Bartels is breaking down every single team in the NFL prior to the season. Here is his analysis and forecast for the Detroit Lions. Click on a team to read its preview.

AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ

AFC North: BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT

AFC South: IND | HOU | JAX | TEN



NFC North: CHI | DET | GBA | MIN

NFC South: ATL | CAR | NOL | TBA


Whatโ€™s New?

Well, after last year's stellar season, there just wasn't much need for change.

However, change there was. Millen and Marinelli have given way to Mayhew and Schwartz.

Also gone with Marinelli are receivers Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald, as well as linebacker Paris Lenon, cornerback Leigh Bodden, and signal caller Dan Orlovsky.

Newcomers to Detroit include several receivers, led by Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt. The secondary gets a few new players in Anthony Henry and Philip Buchanon.

The biggest additions for the Lions before draft day came at linebacker. They traded Cory Redding to the Seahawks for Julian Peterson, and also signed Steelers starter Larry Foote.

Then came the draft. Coming to terms just before draft day, the first pick was Matthew Stafford. He was joined in the first round by tight end Brandon Pettigrew, and then in the second round by Louis Delmas.

They then added yet another linebacker in DeAndre Levy, and another weapon for Stafford in Derrick Williams. The only offensive lineman drafted by Detroit came in the seventh round. At least, in my opinion, it was a good one, in Nebraska's Lydon Murtha.

Three Burning Questions

1. Will Stafford be thrown to the lions (no pun intended) right away?

Sure, there is the success of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco last year.

But there are also recent examples of players who had an opportunity to wait, and that seems to have worked out for the likes of Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, and Aaron Rogers.

I'm sure the Lions won't wait two or three seasons to play Stafford, the way San Diego and Green Bay did, but they could be wise to let Stafford stay on the sideline for at least a good part of this season.

2. Is the offensive line improved at all?

This answer is a definite maybe, and it relies on the play and the health of Jon Jansen.

If he can resemble anything close to his prime, then the line automatically improves. Gosder Cherilus played well down the stretch last season, but Jansen could push him to guard for a while.

Dominic Raiola is one of the best centers in football, and if Jeff Backus is ever given just one job to do, he'll do it fine.

Pettigrew should actually a bigger addition to the offensive line than the receiving core, at least during the early part of his career.

3. Will the new faces of the Lions' defense make a difference?

You have to start somewhere, right? The Lions already have a few youngsters in place, like linebackers Ernie Sims and Jordan Dizon, defensive end Cliff Avril and safety Daniel Bullocks. Delmas is likely to join that group quickly.

Now, Detroit has added a few experienced leaders in Peterson and Foote. The Lions are slowly building a competent roster. Next up for them is to find better defensive tackles.

Fantasy Forecast

Good plays: It's surprising that he hasn't been mentioned yet, but the only true great fantasy play for the Lions is Calvin Johnson.

If Daunte Culpepper is as healthy and as revived as reports say he is, he should have a field day throwing to Calvin, who's as good a deep threat as Randy Moss, and an even better short to intermediate threat than he was at this point in his career.

Kevin Smith played very well near the end of last year, scoring three TD's and gaining 291 yards in his last three games. He'll be a good mid-round pick around the fourth or fifth round.

Avoid: Avoid the defense, it won't be that good yet.

Avoid Jason Hansen too. He's one of the game's best and most consistent, but the Lions may not give him enough chances to score. If the Lions' offense does show signs of life, he could be a very nice free agent addition. He simply doesn't miss.

Sleeper: If you're in a keeper league, you may want to consider a late round flier on rookie Derrick Williams, especially if you're in a league that includes Special Teams stats.


For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article here.

This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels. You can read it, more of Sascha's articles, and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff here.


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