In this series of articles here on the Last Word On Sports, we will be breaking down each NFL division starting every Monday, preparing for the upcoming 2018 NFL Season. We will highlight strengths and weaknesses of each team and make our best analysis and predictions for this upcoming season. Let’s continue with the NFC North Breakdown.
2018 NFL Breakdown: Detroit Lions (8-8)
The Detroit Lions. Two things come to mind when you think about them. First, Matthew Stafford. He is in the tier of quarterbacks right below Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees, sitting with the likes of Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, and Matt Ryan. The second thing that comes to mind is fourth quarter finishes. For the last three years, the Lions record was dependent on if they finished games well in the fourth. They tend to lose by one score and tend to win by the same margin. Predicting 8-8 is the best I can do, but that could easily swing from 6-10 to 10-6 depending on how they finish games.
Matthew Stafford, he will make things happen. There are enough weapons around him to make the offense click. Marvin Jones an excellent underrated receiver, Golden Tate a seasoned vet, the up and coming speedster Kenny Golladay, and tight end Luke Wilson should be a fun group to watch.
I hate to be like every other writer out there but the running back is their weakest position until proven otherwise. The additions of LeGarrette Blount and Kerryon Johnson show they want improvement. The last 2 years they have addressed the run game, but the result has been the same. We will see what happens this year. With a running game though watch out.
Team MVP: Darius Slay
Matthew Stafford is too easy of a choice so I’d have to go to their next best player, Darius Slay. If Slay can play on an island and be a lockdown corner, this defense will be above average. This defense isn’t great but there are pieces. Obviously, Ziggy Ansah as a top-tier pass rusher. Jarrad Davis, a second-year player that took strides his rookie season. Then the backfield, with Slay Island and with a safety like Glover Quin they will play well.
Breakout Rookie: Kerryon Johnson
If I am right on this prediction and he takes over the starting role in the backfield for the Lions they are taking a step towards that 10-6 mark. Stability in the run game will highlight Matthew Stafford’s skill even more. The majority of his career the Lions couldn’t consistently run against an often weak box, so finding that featured back, will help Stafford have more throwing lanes when they aren’t dropping six into coverage and instead they have eight in the box.
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