Can the Detroit Lions Win the NFC North?

By Cody Williams
Detroit Lions Division
Tim Fuller – USA Today Sports Images

Coming into the 2012 NFL season, people were expecting big things from the Detroit Lions. In 2011, they had gone 10-6 and made the postseason. Their offense was only starting to click even further and their defense was continuing to improve. However, things didn’t go as planned and the Lions were a wreck last year, finishing the season with a dismal 4-12 record.

Because of their disappointing and dysfunctional performance in 2012, the expectations for the Lions were quite low. Even with the addition of running back Reggie Bush coming into the year, no one really expected Detroit to make a lot of noise. Once again, though, they haven’t met expectations.

The Lions have quietly been one of the surprising success stories of the young 2013 season. They currently sit with a 4-2 record after a week six win against the Cleveland Browns and are tied atop the NFC North for the division lead, despite how improbable that would have seemed before the start of the year.

There are several big factors to the Lions’ success this season. One is the fact that Matt Stafford has been consistent with his play and has limited his turnovers, throwing only four picks all season. Add in the dynamic that Bush and Joique Bell bring to this offense as threats on the ground and in the passing game and the Lions are even more dynamic.

Detroit’s defense hasn’t been great in terms of yards and points allowed, but they have been ball-hawks all season, forcing over two turnovers per game and sacking the opposing quarterback twice per game as well.

The question that remains now is if the Lions can finish the job over their remaining 10 games this season and potentially win the division.

The Lions’ next two games leading into their week nine bye will be somewhat like litmus tests as they go up against the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys. However, after their bye, they have an easy schedule to say the least. They have one game against each team in their division, all of whom are teams equally as unproven as the Lions. They also face off with the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles, two other teams with things left to prove. Their remaining three opponents have a combined one win between them.

What it boils down to for the Lions is that it’s all on them if they make the playoffs or not. Their schedule sets them up to prove that they are a playoff team over and over. If they can continue to play solidly behind Stafford and Bush and their defense can continue to bend but not break, they could very well earn one of the top-four seeds in the NFC for the postseason.

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