Its the opening week of NCAA Football and the final week of the preseason so the time has come… to look ahead at the 2012 Lions season and to let you all know what is going to happen.
The Lions are going back to the playoffs, finishing the season 11-5. Calvin Johnson will prove there is no Madden Curse, Matthew Stafford will continue his march towards ‘elite NFL Quarterback’, Ndamekong Suh will regain his old form and destroy the interior of every team the Lions play.
Not only will all four of these things happen, the supporting cast on the Lions will do the things they need to in order to support Johnson, Stafford and Suh and those three will dominate and will this team into the post season.
In this preview I’m simply going to break down the Lions schedule and the wins and losses that will make up the season and how the Lions will finish 11-5. The schedule is not the toughest so there shouldn’t be too much to worry about, if the Lions were playing a halfway tough schedule then I’d be concerned they wouldn’t make it to 8-8 but since they drew well on this end, it leads back to the playoffs.
September 9th vs. Rams: Win: If the Lions can’t beat the Rams at home, this may be a long season. Jeff Fisher is in his first season rebuilding the soon to be Los Angeles Rams (again) and they have some nice pieces: Sam Bradford, Chris Long, James Laurinitus, Steven Jackson (or Larry Malony, depending on who you are speaking with) will help this year but his future is limited with the team. If they are looking to rebuild and win some games, they will need to get a younger running back. Isaiah Pead is younger, but probably won’t be what Jackson was to this middling franchise.
Lions win this one easily, Stafford and Johnson have great games and the defense escapes with out more than 4 personal fouls!
September 16th at San Francisco: Loss: As much as I want them to win this one (I’m making the trip out to see it) I just don’t think they can. The offense is the strong point of the Lions and the defense is the strength of the 49ers. I think the 49ers defense wins the battle at home and the Lions lose a close one.
This game won’t be high scoring at all, 17-13 or so but I don’t think the Lions defense can keep the 49ers offense under 10 points and I think that is what they will need to do to pull off a win. Two games into the season, 1-1 record.
September 23rd at Tennessee: Win: Road wins are needed to make the playoffs. NFL teams have to win at least 4 games on the road every year to be considered a good team and this is #1 for the Lions. Like the Rams, the Titans have some nice young pieces to build around, but not enough to be a contender this year.
Tennessee is a place that isn’t the easiest to play but at just 8-8 at home the past two years, this is a winnable game and the Lions win it to prove they are a playoff contender. 2-1 record.
September 30th Vikings: Win: Vikings are going to be awful. Lions win this easy. I feel that this is the start of the “FIRE LESLIE FRAZIER” movement in Minneapolis. 3-1.
October 14th at Philadelphia: Loss: Coming off a bye week this game could be a win but the Eagles look like a pretty good team this year and winning on the road in the NFL isn’t the easiest thing. Unfortunately I think the Lions have too many batteries to dodge from the fans in addition to the defense to pull this one off. Michael Vick will run all over the Lions over aggressive defense when they over pursue and he can use his legs to move the ball downfield.
If Vick is somehow not playing due to injury this could be a win, but assuming an injury to get a win is what bad teams do, not the Lions. 3-2.
October 22nd at Chicago: Loss: Monday Night Football! IN CHICAGO! THIS IS GONNA BE GREAT…until the Lions lose. Road game in the division, win this and it sets the tone for the final standings in the NFC North. But just like last year where the Lions won at home and lost on the road against the Bears, the same thing happens this year.
I would like to see Ndamekong Suh snap Jay Cutlers head off though. It could be a nice consolation prize. 3-3.
October 28th Seattle: Win: Russell Wilson, the next Doug Flutie (meaning he’s short and will have success in the CFL). However, despite a decently strong defense, this team is just not that good. Pete Carroll will forever be the .500 NFL Football coach he has always been. A new QB will not change this and the Lions will win this game pretty easily and be the start of a nice mid season winning streak. 4-3.
November 4th @Jacksonville: Win: Second best candidate for an 0-16 team behind the Cleveland Browns. This entire franchise has taken over for the Lions for most pathetic in football. Blaine Gabbert was an awful draft pick in the first round in 2010. They may be using Chad Henne at QB by this game which is really sad since he couldn’t manage to stick around in Miami where they still don’t have a QB either (ok, Tannehill may be there now, but he wasn’t when Henne left).
This is the second team on this list that may be playing home games in a different city with in 3 years, the Rams being the other, as owner Shahid Kahn probably moves this team to LA or to London. 5-3, second road win.
November 11th @Minnesota: Win: Third road win. Again, Minnesota is going to be terrible, see this for proof. 6-3.
Novermber 18th Packers: Win: Well, if they are going to the playoffs, they are going to have to beat the Packers at home and I believe they can and will. This game will have a playoff feel and the Lions will play some of the best football of the year. They will have to in order to win and the crowd will be crazy…then probably riot after the game they are going to be so drunk. Soccer hooligan style. 7-3.
November 22nd Texans: Win: How about winning the GD Thanksgiving Day game already? Texans are good, probably in the playoffs in the AFC, if this game was ANY other week I would be picking them to win, but coming off a big Packers win and finally getting the full spirit of Thanksgiving in Detroit is all about the Lions, the young guys carry this team to a nice looking 8-3 record.
December 2nd Colts: Win: I think Andrew Luck is going to be a fantastic QB in the NFL, but you can’t take a rookie, replace a Hall of Fame QB on an aging team that was barely a playoff contender before he got hurt and expect them to succeed. It will be a few years before Colts fans sniff double digit wins. 9-3.
December 9th @Green Bay: Loss: Yeah, December, Green Bay? Not happening. I think the Lions have won in Green Bay once in my lifetime and Jimmy Carter was the President when I was born. And I bet that win was in September. I hope they don’t embarrass themselves and lose control and let this game send them reeling, 9-4 is still a great position to be in this late in the year.
December 16th @Arizona: Win: Win number four on the road…remember earlier when I said good teams/playoff teams win 4 road games or more per year? that was foreshadowing. Arizona will look like a much better team next year when they trade up to draft Matt Barkley and get an actual QB to throw the ball to Larry Fitzgerald instead of John Skelton or Kevin Kolb.
Arizona is like the Lions NFC West brother. He had a spurt of success when they went to the Super Bowl but is now back to his heavy drinking and gambling ways that just embarrasses the family. Their parents have to be so disappointed in both of them. 10-4.
December 22nd Falcons: Loss: The Falcons are going to be a pretty good offensive team this year. Like the Lions, the passing game is going to be great, but their running offense will be middle of the pack, so better than the Lions. It doesn’t look like this team is a Super Bowl contender but they should absolutely be in the playoffs this year and this just feels like a bland game, one the Lions will forget to show up to and end up losing 28-20 or something like that. still, 10-5, should be in the playoffs or need a win…
December 30th Bears: Win:…And here’s that win to secure the playoffs. Home team wins the games in this series with the Bears. This game will be great because not only will the Lions win, they will secure the playoff spot AND knock the Bears out of the playoffs. And if Cutler is playing, Suh will knock him out of the game…again.
So there you have it. a successful 11-5 season. Even at 10-6, the Lions should be in the playoffs and as you can see, the schedule they have favors them to roll off quite a few wins in the middle of the season to get some momentum going to secure back to back playoff births for the first time since 1994-95 (are you f#@king kidding me?).
At 11-5 they will have an outside shot at a 1st round bye which would put them the deepest into the playoffs they have been since 1991 (I have to stop referencing the past, its starting to make me even more depressed) when they made it to the NFC Championship game only to get blown out in the first 14 seconds to end all hope of a Super Bowl appearance.
I don’t think they quite make it that far this year, but another playoff appearance will be nice and seeing the team to continue to move in the right direction is always nice…the biggest challenge this year will be making it through the off season with less than 6 arrests (that is an improvement?).