I'm sticking with my prediction of 10-6 for the Lions this season. I decided to explain my prediction "Hondo style" with a list of 5 reasons why this will happen. So grab that plate of cornbread and check it out:
1. Marinelli's Influence
The Lions badly needed an attitude adjustment and Rod Marinelli has delivered (sooner than expected, I might add). Rod has brought in guys with high football character and broomed out the non-believers. Players love to play for him and so he should be able to get the most out of them.
2. Great Talent on Offense
The offense is destined for greatness this season. I see no reason that they can't finish in the top 5. Tatum Bell & T.J. Duckett were added, solving the RB depth problems that have been apparent every time Jones has gotten injured. The offensive line should also be improved by the additions of George Foster, Edwin Mulitalo, and another year of experience for Stephen Peterman. And most importantly, the Lions added the best player in the draft, Calvin Johnson, to give them potentially the most dangerous WR corps in the NFL. Shaun McDonald and Eric Beverly were also brought in for WR & TE depth.
3. System Familiarity
As if adding great talent wasn't enough, the offense will also be improved because it will be in the 2nd year of Mike Martz's system. Martz demands precision and perfection and after a year of experience with this, the players will be more ready to deliver. Defensively, they will enter their 2nd season of playing the Tampa 2 scheme. Most players that have played in this system say that it really takes a couple of seasons to fully understand it. This should especially show in some of the younger players (like Sims and Bullocks). This also leads into my next reason...
4. Joe Barry as Defensive Coordinator
Donnie Henderson is a good coach, but he was a total mismatch for the Tampa 2 scheme. Barry is very well-versed in the system and the defense should see improvement because of this. With the offense as good as it is, I think the defense only has to be middle of the pack for the Lions to win 10 games. Barry will be able to get the Lions defense to that level this season (and hopefully beyond).
5. Success vs. the NFC North
Last season, the Lions went a pathetic 0-6 within the division. This season, I fully expect at least 3 wins, maybe 4 within the division. Here is why the Lions can at least split with these teams: The Vikings have no passing game, and their defense can be thrown on. The Packers improved defensively last season, but did almost nothing to improve ther team this offseason. They have big ?'s at RB, and Brett Favre becomes more prone to turnovers with each passing year. I know the Bears are tough, but they're not unbeatable by any means. Super Bowl hangover, the loss of Thomas Jones, and the fact that Rex Grossman is still their QB are big negatives. I also don't expect Devin Hester to bail them out of so many games like he did last year.
Ah, that was some good cornbread.