2015 Record: 5-11-0
Head Coach: Jim Caldwell
New Faces for 2016 - WR Anquan Boldin, WR Marvin Jones, WR Jeremy Kerley, RB Stevan Ridley, S Rafael Bush, S Tavon Wilson, CB Darrin Walls, OL Geoff Schwartz
OFFENSE: Matthew Stafford returns for his eighth season as the Lions starting quarterback after passing for 4,262 yards with 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Backing him up will likely be Dan Orlovsky (201 yards, one TD, one INT) or rookie Jake Rudock (Michigan).
Joique Bell wasn't retained in the off-season, meaning Ameer Abdullah (597 yards, 4.2 ypc average and two TD) will be the primary running back. Theo Riddick (133 yards rushing, but also 80 receptions for 697 yards and three TD) and Stevan Ridley will sub in when needed.
The biggest absence for the team will be felt at wide receiver after Calvin Johnson retired unexpectedly. In his place will be former All-Pro Anquan Boldin, a journey wideout who caught 69 passes a year ago for 789 yards and four touchdowns with San Francisco.
Golden Tate (90, 813, six TD) is the other starter. The tight ends are Eric Ebron (47, 537, five TD) and Brandon Pettigrew, who had seven receptions with one score last season. Other receivers in the mix include Marvin Jones (65, 816, four TD with Cincinnati) and Jeremy Kerley (16, 152, two TD with the Jets).
DEFENSE: The front four of the 4-3 set includes tackles Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker or rookie A'Shawn Robinson (Alabama). The ends are pass rusher extraordinaire Ezekiel Ansah (14 1/2 QB sacks) and Devin Taylor, who had seven sacks last season.
The linebackers will be DeAndre Levy (out last year with injuries) and Josh Bynes on the outside. The middle linebacker is Tahir Whitehead. Filling in this season are Kyle Van Noy, Zaviar Gooden and Jerry Franklin.
The defensive backs are corners Darius Slay (two interceptions) and Nevin Lawson. The safeties are Rafael Bush and Glover Quin, who led the team with four picks, including one for a touchdown. Quandre Diggs, Ian Walls, Tavon Wilson, rookie Miles Killebrew (Southern Utah) and Johnson Bademosi round out the reserves.
OUTLOOK: Coming off a losing season and then losing their best offensive weapon to retirement, the Lions could not be blamed for having a doom and gloom outlook for the 2016 season. However, Head Coach Jim Caldwell knows his team is capable of a quick turnaround with the defense they play.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford had a solid season and has shown he can put up some big numbers in past seasons. With a fairly solid receiving corps, Stafford can spread it around and then throw in Theo Riddick making grabs out of the backfield to go with the speed of Ameer Abdullah at running back and the offense could very potent. Improving a league worst rushing attack (83 yards per game) is vital for the Lions to be able to do just that.
The defense was adequate last year after a superb 2014 season during which they came up with numerous turnovers. They need to get that magic back after a minus-six in that area last year. Detroit did amass 43 QB sacks while giving up 44 sacks.
A lot will depend on the offense getting back to lighting up the scoreboard (they slipped to just 22 points per game last year) as they have done in the past with Stafford and company. They face stiff competition in their division with Green Bay and Minnesota (both playoff teams in 2015) and an improving Chicago Bears team, but they can compete if they avoid the mistakes and play solid defense.
Fearless forecast - 7-9 this year
2016 TEAM SCHEDULE
Week 1 - at Indianapolis
Week 2 - vs. Tennessee
Week 3 - at Green Bay
Week 4 - at Chicago
Week 5 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 6 - vs. Los Angeles
Week 7 - vs. Washington
Week 8 - at Houston
Week 9 - at Minnesota
Week 10 - BYE
Week 11 - vs. Jacksonville
Week 12 - vs. Minnesota
Week 13 - at New Orleans
Week 14 - vs. Chicago
Week 15 - at NY Giants
Week 16 - at Dallas
Week 17 - vs. Green Bay