2013 Record: 7-9-0
Key Additions: WR Golden Tate; RB Jed Collins; S James Ihedigbo; DL-LB Darryl Tapp.
Key Losses: DL Willie Young; S Louis Delmas; OL Jason Fox; WR Nate Burleson; QB Shaun Hill; DL Israel Idonije.
HEAD COACH: Jim Caldwell
Offense: The Lions will have quarterback Matthew Stafford (4,650 passing yards with 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions) running the show once again. Dan Orlovsky is back in Motown once again as the backup.
The running game got a shot in the arm with Reggie Bush, who went for 1,006 yards on the ground (4.5 ypc average) and four touchdowns in addition to making 54 receptions for 506 yards and three more scores. The Lions also have Joique Bell (650 yards, 3.9 ypc and eight TD) to complement Bush as well as adding a good blocking fullback in Jed Collins, who comes over from New Orleans via free agency.
Calvin Johnson leads the wide receivers after hauling in 84 catches for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Golden Tate (64, 898 yards, five TD with Seattle) will line up along with "Megatron" after signing with the Lions in the off-season. Brandon Pettigrew (41, 416, two TD), Joseph Fauria (18 receptions for 207 yards with seven TD) and top rookie pick Eric Ebron (North Carolina) will be the tight ends.
The line consists of center Dominic Raiola, guards Rob Sims and Larry Warford and tackles Riley Reiff and LaAdrian Waddle.
STATS - Then Lions can throw the ball, evidenced by their third ranked passing attack that averaged 280 yards per game. The running game managed 112 yards per game (17th) and their total offense averaged 392 yards per game, which was sixth in the NFL. The Lions averaged just under 25 points per game in 2013 while turning the football over 34 times (19 INT and 12 fumbles) and gave up 23 QB sacks.
Defense: Up front in the 4-3 alignment are Ndamukong Suh (5.5 QB sacks) and Nick Fairley (six sacks) at the tackles along with Ziggy Ansah (eight sacks) and Jason Jones at the ends. Darryl Tapp, C.J. Mosley, Devin Taylor and Caraun Reid will play backup roles.
Stephen Tulloch is the middle linebacker while the outside spots are manned by rookie Kyle Van Noy (BYU) and DeAndre Levy, who had six interceptions last season.
Darius Slay and Chris Houston will play the corners in the defensive backfield along with safeties Glover Quin (three picks) and James Inhedigbo.
STATS - Detroit ranked 23rd overall in total defense, giving up 347 yards per game. The run defense was solid, allowing 100 yards per game (sixth in NFL) while the pass defense lagged behind by allowing 247 yards, which ranked 23rd overall. The Lions allowed 23.5 points per game last season, which was 15th and had 33 QB sacks while getting 15 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries.
OUTLOOK: The Lions tanked down the stretch last year and finished third in the NFC North as they lost six of their final seven games.
New Head Coach Jim Caldwell would like to see the team be more consistent this year after six one-score losses in the 2013 season doomed the Lions' playoff chances.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson form arguably the most formidable pass-catch combo in the league and with Reggie Bush running and catching the ball out of the backfield, it adds to the versatility on offense. Golden Tate is the other wideout to take pressure off Johnson.
The Lions can score points, unfortunately they allow a lot of scoring as well because the pass defense gives up too many big plays and the front seven didn't get pressure on opposing quarterbacks as they had in past seasons. A better pass rush and an improved secondary will be the key for the Lions in 2014 as they look to get back to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
They also have to cut down on the turnovers (19 interceptions and 15 fumbles lost last year) if they want to contend with Green Bay and Chicago in the NFC North this season.
Perhaps an 8-8 season will be where the Lions wind up in 2014 because they always seem to find ways to lose games and it cost them again last year. If they can right the mistakes, perhaps they will improve enough to make the playoffs.
Week 1- vs. NY Giants
Week 2- at Carolina
Week 3- vs. Green Bay
Week 4- at NY Jets
Week 5- vs. Buffalo
Week 6- at Minnesota
Week 7- vs. New Orleans
Week 8- at Atlanta (London, England)
Week 9- BYE WEEK
Week 10- vs. Miami
Week 11- at Arizona
Week 12- at New England
Week 13- vs. Chicago
Week 14- vs. Tampa Bay
Week 15- vs. Minnesota
Week 16- at Chicago
Week 17- at Green Bay