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NFL Detroit Lions

5 Detroit Lions Facing Make-or-Break Seasons in 2014

5 Detroit Lions Facing Make-or-Break Seasons in 2014

Matthew Stafford Lions
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The Detroit Lions finished third in the NFC North last season after starting 6-3. Coach Jim Schwartz and coordinators Scott Linehan and Gunther Cunningham were fired, making for a long offseason. Their offense is among the elites in the NFL while the defense still has question marks. With 2014 being a telling season for the Lions, here are five players facing make-or-break seasons.

5. LB Ashlee Palmer

Ashlee Palmer Lions
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5. LB Ashlee Palmer

Ashlee Pamer Lions
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The Lions have two out of three linebacker positions solidified with Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy. The odd man out here is Ashlee Palmer. Palmer is more of a special teams player, but with the team neglecting this position in recent years, Palmer will have only this year to prove that he can become a dependable player or else the Lions will have to find yet another linebacker.

4. CB Bill Bentley

Bill Bentley Lions
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4. CB Bill Bentley

Bill Bentley Lions
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The Lions had high hopes for defensive back Bill Bentley, but he has not shown any improvement. Bentley, like the rest of Detroit's defensive backs, had a poor 2013 campaign, and he was benched in favor of veteran Rashean Mathis. Bentley is on a very short leash, especially with a new coaching staff in place and the Lions rumored to target a corner in the draft.

3. QB Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford Lions
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3. QB Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford Lions
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Like it or not, Stafford is among the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL, but he has yet to win a playoff game which is the ultimate barometer for a quarterback. Stafford's turnovers and inconsistency derailed the Lions from an NFC North title last year. Stafford has to shine now or else he will turn into a poor man's version of Cincinnati's Andy Dalton.

2. DT Nick Fairley

Nick Fairley Lions
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2. DT Nick Fairley

Nick Fairley Lions
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The trade speculation this offseason has been focused on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, but the talk should actually be centered around fellow defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Fairley has not justified the Lions for taking him No. 13 overall in 2011. His work ethic and on-field demeanor have been put into question over the past few seasons.

1. WR Ryan Broyles

Ryan Broyles Lions
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1. WR Ryan Broyles

Ryan Broyles Lions
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The Lions had to sign former Seahawks WR Golden Tate because they couldn't trust that Ryan Broyles could stay healthy anymore. Broyles has missed significant time in each of his first two seasons, and the former second-round pick cannot be trusted now to be healthy enough to complete a 16-game season.