College football season began last week, and this week is the beginning of the 2010 NFL season. Soon we will start to find out if all of those offseason moves paid off or if it is going to be yet another long season. For the Lions especially, this is a time where hope and Kool-Aid drinking are met with reality, for better or for worse. Sunday will be the first sign of what's to come in 2010, but in the mean time it's always fun to predict what will happen in the coming months. Keeping that in mind, this week's Top Five looks at some predictions for the Lions for this upcoming season.
No. 5: The secondary will be better, but still cause fans to shake their heads quite often.
The Lions put a lot of effort into revamping the secondary this offseason, which is evident based on the fact that only one defensive back from last season's team is still around (Louis Delmas). This enormous roster turnover will lead to an improved secondary, as there is more talent with the likes of Chris Houston and Jonathan Wade now on the roster. Even so, I still think the secondary will be a liability. The hope with the new faces and improved D-line is for the secondary to go from a liability to simply another piece of the defense, but I think the Lions are still a year (and a franchise cornerback) away from that happening.
No. 4: Jahvid Best will win the offensive rookie of the year award.
The offense has many weapons, but perhaps no weapon is quite as dangerous as Jahvid Best. Okay, Calvin Johnson is probably more dangerous, but he won't be touching the ball 15-20 times a game like Best is expected to. Best showed his explosiveness at running back in the preseason, and we really didn't even get much of a look at what he can do lining up as a receiver. The Lions plan to use Best in many different ways this coming season, and assuming he stays healthy, I think his explosiveness will propel him to the offensive rookie of the year award.
No. 3: Ndamukong Suh won't win an award, but he will make an immediate impact for the Lions.
The thought that the Lions have a legitimate contender for a rookie of the year award on both sides of the ball is just awesome, although I don't believe Ndamukong Suh will take home any hardware. Why? Well, the preseason showed us that opposing teams are going to do everything they can to limit Suh's damage, including double teaming him quite often. As a result, I don't believe Suh's stats will be good enough for the defensive rookie of the year award, but only because there isn't a stat to track disruptiveness. With offensive coordinators scheming to contain Suh, other players like Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril will be able to do damage of their own. In that regard Suh may not gain all of the accolades or be a constant in highlights, but the attention he commands from other teams will allow other players to wreak havoc of their own.
No. 2: Matthew Stafford will take a big step forward in 2010.
If the preseason is any indication, Matthew Stafford is ready to go from a young, inexperienced quarterback to an outstanding, veteran quarterback in only year two of his career. During the preseason, he looked comfortable in the pocket slinging the ball around to his countless number of targets, and I think by the end of the year those who drafted him for their fantasy football teams will be very happy. He has the potential to rack up some serious numbers this season if he can stay healthy. Not only is he better, but his teammates are better as well, allowing both him and the Lions to take a step forward this season.
No. 1: The Lions will finish with a record of 6-10, but hopes will be high going into 2011.
As much as I want to just take a big sip of Kool-Aid and say the Lions will contend for a playoff spot and finally have a .500 or better record, I think they're still a year away from that. I wouldn't be shocked if the Lions do take that big of a step forward if things fall into place and they can stay healthy, but realistically, I think 6-10 is the most likely outcome for Detroit in 2010.
That said, I believe those 10 losses will include many close games that the Lions are just simply unable to close out. As a result, fans will be thinking playoffs heading into 2011, and for a change, that may not be crazy talk. The roster improved a great deal this offseason, but the Lions are a young team. Sure, there are experienced veterans here or there, but part of getting better involves learning how to win the close games, and I think 2010 will provide many learning experiences for 2011, which is when the real fun will begin for Lions fans.