Back in September, before the 2010 NFL season kicked off, I posted a Top Five looking at some predictions for the Lions. Now that we are nearing the end of October and the season is almost halfway through (it won't technically be halfway through until after next week's game, but we're coming off the bye week, so close enough), I figured it would be a good time to take a look back at those predictions in a special Top Five Rewind.
No. 5: The secondary will be better, but still cause fans to shake their heads quite often.
This prediction is only half true so far. The secondary is definitely better, but looking back on the first six games, I don't remember often shaking my head about bad plays made by the defensive backs. Sure, there have been occasional screw ups in coverage (I'm looking at you, C.C. Brown against the Vikings), but overall the secondary has been much better than last year. If you don't believe me, just look at the stats:
Average passing yards allowed per game:
The secondary, dare I say it, has actually been a bright spot with guys like Chris Houston and Alphonso Smith stepping it up, so hopefully the numbers hold steady or possibly even improve over the course of the remainder of the season.
No. 4: Jahvid Best will win the offensive rookie of the year award.
After the first two weeks, this prediction looked like it was going to for sure come true. Best got off to a blazing hot start, scoring five total touchdowns in two games and gaining 268 total yards. Since then, however, Best hasn't scored a single touchdown and has really struggled. Part of the problem is that he has been suffering from some nagging toe injuries, which have definitely slowed him down. If he can get healthy and then stay healthy, Best still can make a run at being named the NFL's top offensive rookie, but he is going to face some stiff competition from Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and Buccaneers receiver Mike Williams no matter what.
There's lots of football to be played, but this prediction looks to for sure be half wrong already. Suh has definitely made an immediate impact, so that part is correct. But saying he won't win an award is shaping up to be extremely inaccurate. I predicted Suh's stats wouldn't be good enough for him to take home the honor of being the NFL's top defensive rookie, but based on the fact that he already has 22 total tackles, 5.0 sacks and an interception, I think it's safe to say he is well on his way to proving me wrong. Right now he is the clear-cut favorite for the NFL defensive rookie of the year award.
No. 2: Matthew Stafford will take a big step forward in 2010.
The good news is that with ten games left, Stafford still has plenty of time to take a big step forward in 2010. So far, however, he obviously hasn't been moving in the right direction, as he's been sidelined for all but one half because of a shoulder injury. I think it's fair to say that is a step back, as the injury took away almost half his season and potentially hampered his development as well. He can make this prediction come true with a strong second half, but for that to happen he has to not only stay healthy, but also shake off the rust and get back in rhythm rather quickly. That won't be easy, but in order to take a big step forward in 2010, Stafford will have to play well in a shortened time frame.
No. 1: The Lions will finish with a record of 6-10, but hopes will be high going into 2011.
Right now the Lions are 1-5. The disappointing part is that they could easily be halfway to six wins or better based on how close some of the games have been so far this season. Unfortunately coming close doesn't mean anything for your win-loss record, so the Lions need five victories in their final ten games for this prediction to come true. Let's take a look at those final ten games:
vs. Washington Redskins (4-3)
vs. New York Jets (5-1)
at Buffalo Bills (0-6)
at Dallas Cowboys (1-5)
vs. New England Patriots (5-1)
vs. Chicago Bears (4-3)
vs. Green Bay Packers (4-3)
at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2)
at Miami Dolphins (3-3)
vs. Minnesota Vikings (2-4)
All in all, this is a pretty favorable schedule to finish the season. The combined record of the Lions' final 10 opponents is 32-31; the two toughest games (against the Jets and Patriots) are both at home; and all of the Lions' remaining games against divisional opponents are at home. What's more, two of the Lions' four remaining road games are against teams with records of 0-6 and 1-5. To say the least, there are a lot of winnable games left on the schedule, so I certainly think winning six games is possible.
Detroit only needs to win five of the games from above to achieve a 6-10 record. A path to five more wins could include victories at 0-6 Buffalo and 1-5 Dallas, beating two of the three NFC North opponents and upsetting just one of Washington, New York, New England, Tampa Bay and Miami. Expecting Detroit to actually win all of the games they should may be unrealistic, but my point is that winning five more games is definitely possible. If Detroit can learn how to start winning some of these close games and Stafford stays healthy, perhaps even more than five additional wins are possible. That may just be the Kool-Aid talking, but you never know.
As for the second part of the prediction about hopes being high going into 2011, I think I can already say that that is accurate. After all, the Lions are 1-5 right now and for the most part people are pretty optimistic going forward. Optimism is nothing new for Lions fans, but as outlined in last week's Top Five, there are actually reasons to be hopeful going forward, so this optimism isn't necessarily unfounded.