Day 3 of NFC North preview means the Detroit Lions are the team for today. Sports Illustrated has predicted the Lions to finish third in the NFC North with a record of 9-7. Last season the Lions finished 10-6 with an offensive rank of 5 and the defense was ranked 23 in the league. The Lions made the playoffs in 2011 but were quickly eliminated. Last season Matthew Stafford threw 46 passes that were dropped which included 18 passes on third down. The big connection certainly was Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson. Johnson had 96 receptions for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns.
I do like what the Lions are doing and as a Vikings fan, I am extremely jealous of their quarterback. Matthew Stafford has shown toughness, intelligence and is making himself a top 5 quarterback in the league. Being able to throw the ball to Calvin Johnson certainly doesn’t hurt either. The Lions have other receivers who are legitimate threats to any defense. Stafford can throw to Brandon Pettigrew, Titus Young, Tony Scheffler, and Nate Burleson. This is a good core of receivers and Stafford showed last year he can distribute the ball nicely. I know Matthew Stafford has suffered injuries earlier in his career, but when healthy Stafford is fun to watch and a really good quarterback. The Lions also have a very good running back in Kevin Smith who can take some of the heat off of Stafford and set up the play action. It won’t be the offense that will hurt the Lions this year, it will be the defense, and more specifically it will be the Lion cornerbacks. Their ability to cover other receivers in the NFC North and other opponents with good receivers like the 49ers, Ealges, Texans, and Falcons. Some Lion players are also having some trouble obeying the law. Lions recently cut Aaron Berry, arguably one of their best cornerbacks, after his second arrest. Nick Fairley (defensive tackle) was also arrested two times this summer. In the draft the Lions did not pick any secondary players till their later picks. However, the Lions may possess the best front four in the entire league. If the Lions can pressure the opposing quarterback, I like their chances too. Of the four teams in the NFC North I do believe the Lions have the toughest schedule. Like already mentioned the Lions have to play the Packers, Bears and Vikings twice. They also play the Eagles, 49ers, Texans, Falcons, and Cardinals. All these teams have formidable offenses which could cause major problems for the Lions. Despite this schedule I do think the Lions are going to the playoffs. I am prepared to say the Lions will be better than the Bears this season.
Tomorrow I will be prepared to share what the Lion record will be when I blog my final preview of the Minnesota Vikings. It has been fun to preview the NFC North and during the season will be even better. I love football season.