The Detroit Lions have been known to take one step forward and ten steps back. They haven’t been able to patch together two decent seasons They were 10-6 in 2011, but then had back-to-back losing seasons before rebounding last season with an 11-5 record.
I expect a big year from both Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Stafford has thrown for 4,000+ yards for four straight seasons, but struggled with turnovers for a few seasons. The addition of Golden Tate last year kept him from constantly throwing to Calvin Johnson when he was double and triple covered.
Detroit hasn’t won a division title since 1993. Can they defy the odds and overtake Green Bay in the North?
Here is the 2015 NFL team preview for the Detroit Lions.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 11-5
Key Additions: DT Haloti Ngata, WR Lance Moore, DT Tyrunn Walker, WR Greg Salas, OG Manny Ramirez, DE Phillip Hunt, CB Josh Wilson, CB Chris Owens & S Taylor Mays
Key Losses: DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Nick Fairley, RB Reggie Bush, C Dominic Raiola, DT C.J. Mosley, CB Mohammed Seisay, FB Jed Collins, OT Corey Hilliard, OG Rob Sims, DE George Johnson, DT Andre Fluellen, OLB Ashlee Palmer, CB Cassius Vaughn, RT Garrett Reynolds & TE Kellen Davis
2015 Draft Picks: OG Laken Tomlinson, RB Ameer Abdullah, CB Alex Carter, DT Gabe Wright, FB Michael Burton, CB Quandre Diggs & OT Corey Robinson
Non-Division Schedule: AFC West, NFC West & (Philadelphia/New Orleans)
Fantasy Sleeper: RB Ameer Abdullah – Abdullah was stellar in the first preseason game. He also gets a few bonus points for looking like Barry Sanders. His play was borderline Sanders-esque, but his stature and appearance reminds me of him. He’s a small back, but if he can correct the fumble issue he had in college, he could sneak up and take a lot of carries away from starter Joique Bell.
Offense – QB Matthew Stafford, RB Joique Bell, WR Calvin Johnson, WR Golden Tate, WR Lance Moore, TE Eric Ebron, LT Riley Reiff, LG Laken Tomlinson, C Manny Ramirez, RG Larry Warford & RT LaAdrian Waddle
Defense – DE Jason Jones, DT Haloti Ngata, DT Tyrunn Walker, DE Ziggy Ansah, OLB DeAndre Levy, MLB Stephen Tulloch, OLB Kyle Van Noy, CB Darius Slay, CB Rashean Mathis, SS James Ihedigbo & FS Glover Quin
Team Analysis: The Lions are in the unfortunate position of being in the same division as the Green Bay Packers. Detroit had a nice season last year, but the Packers cast such a large shadow. Detroit should be great on the offensive end with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson leading that side of the ball. The defense has underwent a face lift up front. Ndamukong Suh and Nick Failey both left via free agency and the Lions traded for Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata to help ease the pain of losing those two run-stopping beasts. Suh will be missed, but Detroit made the right decision by letting him walk. They just couldn’t afford to throw that much money at him. I like the Lions this year and think if a few balls land their way, they could surprise a lot of people. Green Bay will probably win the NFC North, but Detroit will be nipping at their heels all season.
2015 Wins Over/Under Line: 8.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 10-6 (2nd in NFC North)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.