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NFC North Season Preview- Detroit Lions

Nov 13, 2011; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers (90) and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) go face to face during a fight in the second half at Soldier Field. The Bears defeated the Lions 37-13. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Lions

Record- 10-6 ( Lost to the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round)

Coach- Jim Schwartz 18-30 0-1 playoffs

Key Subtractions- Qb Drew Stanton,  Lb Bobby Carpenter, Cb Aaron Berry, Cb Eric Wright

Key Additions- Wr Jarett Dillard,  T Jonathan Scott, De Everette Brown, Cb Jacob Lacey

Meeting Dates- Week 6 in Chicago, Week 17 in Detroit

All-Time Record- Bears lead 94-65-5

Strength of Schedule- 20th

Fantasy Impact- Matthew Stafford rounds 1-4, Calvin Johnson Round 1, Brandon Pettigrew rd 6

Calvin Johnson Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Offense-

Matthew Stafford did something for the first time last season… He stayed healthy, and the Lions offensive stats were phenomenal because of his staying off the injured reserved list.  The Lions were 5th in total offense and 4th in passing offense averaging over 300 yards per game in the air.  The Lions have a super target on the outside in Calvin Johnson who was a pro bowler after having an outstanding season 0f 96 catches for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns.  Johnson also got rewarded in the off season with a big contract extension.  This pretty much was the only good story out of Detroit this off season.

Like the Green Bay Packers, the Lions pretty much ignored the running game all season long.  Injuries were a contributing factor after Mikel Leshoure was injured in the pre-season and Javid Best was hurt during the early part of the season, the Lions had to bring in oldie but goodies in Maurice Morris and Kevin Smith.  They held down the fort, but the offense was one dimensional.  The hope in Detroit is that Leshoure can come in after his suspension and take over the running duties and make the offense at least a little more balanced in 2012.  Javid Best has been put on the PUP list from lingering effects of concussion syndrome.  The running game will need to show improvement for the Lions to win in January.

Defense

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

The defense like the offense is the story of two totally different units.  The defensive line is one of the best in the league. The line is anchored by Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch.  Suh may be one of the dirtiest players in the league, but along with Vanden Bosch, they put relentless pressure on the quarterback and opposing offensive lines.  The lone disappointment on the line has been the progression of Nick Fairley. Fairley was suppose to be a steal, and the icing on the cake when the Lions drafted him, but injuries and arrests have plagued the start of his career.  The defensive line has to be a force every game because behind them isn’t much support.

The glaring weakness of the defense is the secondary.  To add to the matter, Aaron Berry who was slated to be one of the starting cornerbacks was released after getting arrested twice in a month.  This leaves the starting jobs currently to Chris Houston (journeyman CB) and Dwight Bentley (rookie)   The last two games this unit was on the field it got torched by the Packers and Saints.  To beat the Lions defense all the is needed is time by the quarterback because this secondary is sub par!

Overview

After having their first playoff season in more than a decade, the Lions off season has been worse than anyone could have imagined without having Matt Millen on the payroll.  Arrests after arrests with some lawsuits thrown in for good measure has made this a summer to forget in Detroit.  The offense like Green Bay is good enough that it will simply out score some teams on the way to a victory if Matthew Stafford can remain healthy again in 2012.  Calvin Johnson is just too good that even in a one dimensional offense they will score points.  If Leshoure comes in after his two game suspension and gives them anything on the ground this will be a difficult offense to defend.  The defense can be great or terrible, but it showed signs of weakness late in the season when teams figured out giving the quarterback max protection meant big plays down the field.

Prediction Sure to go Wrong 

The Lions will backslide this season and go 9-7.  Too much off season and off the field issues to not creep in to the playing field. The Lions will digress, but sneak into the playoffs as the last wild card.  Their Achilles heels in running the ball and defending the pass will not allow for a deep playoff run especially when the games are played outdoors.

Topics: Calvin Johsnon, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Javid Best, Matthew Stafford, Mikel Leshoure

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