When you think of the Detroit Lions right now, you immediately think about the loss of superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson. It’s okay, you’re not the only one. In fact, that’s what everybody thinks because it’s impossible to have a bigger offseason highlight (or lowlight) than that. However, while everyone has all but written off the 2016 Lions, they’ve slowly been feeding their young and soon-to-be dangerous roster.

It’s been under the radar and it’s been out of sight for most keeping one eye on NFL circles, the Lions though, have improved at most positions. Albeit, while Marvin Jones does have some major upside, he’s not Megatron. So it’s easy to say that the wide receiver spot may be lacking a little entering the new campaign. Across the board though, this a better crew than the 2015 rendition, even though most sportsbooks still think otherwise. NFL betting site TopBet.eu gives the Lions the longest odds to win NFC North at +1,000. Given, the Packers (-170) and Vikings (+200) shouldn’t disappoint, there’s no way the Lions finish dead last.

The Chicago Bears biggest addition came on their defense. The signings of Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan will instantly help their pass rush attack. However, the Bears did not do enough to improve their secondary through signings or the draft, and there are still holes in their offensive line.

In Detroit, meanwhile, the Lions have improved their backfield with some nice additions (Tavon Wilson and Rafael Bush). Their biggest strength though is to their offensive line. Clearly they learned that finishing dead last in the NFL in rushing last year didn’t help their chances. Big Ohio State rookie first-rounder Taylor Decker will move into to the starting fold immediately. They also added Graham Glasgow in the third round and picked up guard Geoff Schwartz on a one-year deal for insurance.

Then on top of that, they added veteran running back Steven Ridley to join forces with Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. So while the wide outs are a question mark, their run game has certainly improved drastically.

I don’t think anybody is saying that the Lions are going to win the NFC North or the Super Bowl this season. It definitely wouldn’t be out of the question to look for a wild card battle this year though and even an NFC North banner in the next three years. It is finally safe to say that this team is back on the rise.