Tim “The Toolman” Taylor would say that the defensive pass rush definitely needs ‘More Power!' But with Ziggy Ansah potentially getting some real help over the top from a young, athletic Jarrod Davis (LB out of Florida), a shored up secondary in the form a contract extension for Glover Quin, and a newly signed up-and-coming CB, Teez Taylor (also out of Florida), we just might see some improvement on the defensive end of the ball.
One thing we can expect this season is for the Lions to move out of that DEAD LAST position for Opposing QB Rating (107.2). New talent coupled with returning experience should help to break down opposing offenses with a few more sacks and a few more takeaways. This could do wonders to relieve a bit of pressure from Detroit's offensive unit.
Under PressureDetroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass during the second quarter against the New York Giants at Ford Field. (Photo: Andrew Weber, USA TODAY Sports)
Matthew Stafford is looking like he might become one of, if not the highest paid player in the NFL. There are a lot of questions about a contract that big when considering the 4-43 record vs teams with winning records, or the 1-21 road record. But this is putting undue pressure on Stafford and acting as if the entire team consists solely of him. Let's be honest, the defense was horrendous last year: Second to last in sacks, 5.9 ypp allowed and worst in the league for Opp QB Rating. The Lions went 9-7 only because Stafford made enough big plays happen to get over .500 in the wins column. This is nothing short of a miracle. And with a little better play on the defensive end –which is more than likely this season— Stafford should feel a bit of that pressure lifted, opening him up for a great playing mentality.
With all of that said, the second thing we can expect from the Lions this season is more MVP-like play from Stafford. No. 9 had an unheard of eight 4th quarter comebacks and was playing like a legitimate champion until he hurt his finger against the Bears. We'll see more fine play this season, and with some defensive improvement, hopefully, the Lions will not always have to come from behind.
On The Road
The 3rd thing we can expect this season is really tough road games. The 2017 schedule that lies ahead for the Lions sits right around the NFL average for overall strength of schedule. But where it really gets tough is on the road. It's brutal. Not because the teams they will face are the best of the best (for the most part) but because there is little reprieve. Their road schedule is against all battle-hardened teams that are not going to give any easy road wins. It starts off during preseason at the Colts, then there is a breather in taking the Jets at home, but right after that, the Pats come to town and the preseason closes out hosting the Bills. Then, after hosting a tough Cardinals team in the season opener, it's off to NY to face the G-men on their turf. The season goes on like this with games at Minnesota, in New Orleans, then at the Packers, Bears, and Ravens.
The Longer The Coattails The Easier To Ride
The 4th thing to expect from the Lions in 2017 is other players rising up to compete at Stafford's level. Stafford was flirting with greatness before his injury last season and with this contract looming, he will be solidified as one of the current ‘Greats'. This is one of those intangibles that can-do wonders for a team. Suddenly you have a player that realizes their value and responsibility to their team, thus their leadership improves. It's like chains are slung over the star's shoulders, trailing out long behind him for his teammates to grab onto while he drags them into the playoffs.
Against All Odds
The 5th thing we can expect for the Lions this season is for them to prove Las Vegas nay-sayers wrong. The oddsmakers in Vegas and at Sportsbooks like Intertops lined the Lions out with a season wins total of just 7.5 games. We should expect the Lions to better their 9-7 record last year –barring unforeseen injuries.
What are your expectations for the Lions this year? Let us know in the comments section below!