5 Things that MUST happen for Detroit Lions to be playoff bound once again

Dec 4, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) celebrates after throwing a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Lions defeated the Saints 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions made the playoffs for the third time in Matthew Stafford’s career last season and failed to make it out of the wild card round for the third time. This year, Detroit will be looking to bounce back from their 26-6 Wild Card loss to the Seattle Seahawks and once again try to get back into the playoffs. For this to happen, there are five things that the Detroit Lions must do to get back into the postseason for a second consecutive year:

Matthew Stafford must play at an MVP level

Matthew Stafford has been the Lions’ most consistent player over the past few seasons. He continues to put up good numbers and leads his offense to the best of his ability. This season, Stafford must turn his game up a few notches and play better than he ever has before. An MVP caliber season from Stafford is what the Lions need to help them make the playoffs in the 2017-2018 season. The Lions quarterback threw for 4,327 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions last season. As great of a season as it was, he needs to be even better this time around. If Stafford can play like he did in 2011 when he threw for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions, then Detroit will be in good position to not only make the postseason but possibly make a run in it as well.

Win Division Matchups

Winning games against opponents within the NFC North is a big must do for the Lions this upcoming season if they want to go to the playoffs. Last season, Detroit went 2-4 against in-division opponents. They fell to the Packers twice and split the season series with both Chicago and Minnesota. If the Lions want to not only make the playoffs but have a chance at winning the NFC North, then they must play better and win against their division rivals. If they can improve their divisional record this upcoming season, then Detroit will have a good chance at making the playoffs yet again.

Stay healthy

While this is out of the hands of the team, the Lions must stay healthy if they want to make the playoffs. A team with injuries not only to a star player but to role players as well is not going to be able to compete in the NFL on a weekly basis unless they have great depth. Unfortunately, Detroit is still working on building depth, which makes staying healthy crucial The Lions must do everything in their power to prevent injuries from happening. If healthy all season long, Detroit should be able to make it to the playoffs once again.

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Establish the run

This is one of the most important things for the Detroit Lions this upcoming season. Establishing a good run game will vastly improve the offense. With an offensive line that now has Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang on the right side, it should help both Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick break free more often and take pressure off of Stafford. With a solid run game, it can help Matthew Stafford have the MVP caliber season Detroit needs to make it to the playoffs.

Improved Defense

Defense wins championships. If the Detroit Lions can improve their bottom half of the league ranked defense from last season, then the playoffs should be a reachable goal. The Lions ranked 18th overall in the league last year defensively (yards allowed), and if they want any chance of making a nice postseason run, then they must improve. If the defense can improve from 18th in the league to around 12th or 13th, then Detroit will be in good shape. Rookies Jarrad Davis and Teez Tabor are two guys who will help them make that jump in the rankings. Also, if veterans Ziggy Ansah and Darius “Big Play” Slay both have career years, the Detroit defense will be better than most expect.

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