Mady: Detroit Lions 2012 Season Prediction

Rosters are still to be adjusted and injuries are still to be incurred as the only guarantee granted by an upcoming NFL season is surprise -- but that doesn't stop Lions' insider Mike Mady from providing his predictions for Detroit's 2012 campaign.

 

Kickoff to the 2012 NFL season is well over four months away.
 
Rosters are still to be adjusted and injuries are still to be incurred as the only guarantee granted by an upcoming NFL season is surprise.
 
With all of the unexpected twists and turns still lying in wait within the shadows of the remaining offseason and upcoming preseason, there has been little unveiled regarding the 2012 season.  However, one veil of mystery has been lifted, as the 2012 schedule was officially released. 
 
Now that some light has been shed early examination and predictions can begin. 
 
Here is my initial, game-by-game prediction of the Lions 2012 season. 
 
Week 01, St. Louis Rams
The Rams may not be the pushover many expect in 2012. 
 
They will certainly add a ready-to-play talent or two in next week’s draft and already have a talented quarterback, running back and pass rusher as well as a proven head coach in Jeff Fisher.
 
Speaking of Fisher, he will represent the largest storyline in this contest, as he was the long-time head coach in Tennessee, where Lions head coach Jim Schwartz spent 10 years prior to joining the club.
 
Don’t expect a repeat of 2010’s 44-6 dismantling but this is a game the Lions should win. 
Prediction: Win (1-0)
 
The Lions will travel to the west coast to face the 49ers on Sunday Night Football in their second contest of 2012. 
 
This game should feature a close contest between two talented young teams but that storyline will be lost in the sure-to-be-over-hyped handshake rematch between Schwartz and 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.
 
The Lions should have the talent to contend with the 49ers, who appear stronger on paper this season.  Still, playing a road game against a strong team on the west coast isn’t a confidence-inspiring proposition.  
Prediction: Loss (1-1)
 
Week 03, @ Tennessee Titans
If Schwartz doesn’t enjoy the media spotlight, he’s going to be quite annoyed by the time this game is played.
 
After two weeks with story lines heavily surrounding Schwartz, he will be returning to Tennessee – the city and team that essentially launched his coaching career – for the first time.
 
The Titans are more talented than they are credited for and won’t be an easy team to beat on the road.  
With that said, if the Lions truly are going to be NFC contenders, this is an inter-conference game they must win. 
Prediction: Win (2-1)
 
No matter the placement in the standings, the Lions have always seemed to struggle with the Vikings – a team that defeated them 22 of 28 times between 1998 and 2010.  
 
Now, the Lions have a three-game win streak for the first time since 1992 against their division foe.  
 
On paper this game should belong to Detroit and the questions surrounding Adrian Peterson’s health should only re-enforce that notion. 
 
Even with all of that, this game may be closer than many expect. 
Prediction: Win (3-1)
 
Week 05, Bye
 
The Eagles took a lot of heat after their self-proclaimed dream team faltered to a 4-8 start and failed to make the playoffs. 
 
Despite the disappointment of 2011, the Eagles took a page out of the Lions 2010 playbook, finishing the year with four consecutive wins as they look poised to finally silence their critics. 
 
There is a tremendous amount of talent on the Eagles roster and Philadelphia is home to some of the most passionate fans in the league, making for a difficult road game for any opponent. 
 
Despite the odds that may be against them, this is a game that may have late season consequences for the Lions and one they can win coming off of a bye week. 
Prediction: Win (4-1)
 
Week 07, @ Chicago Bears
The Bears have been aggressive during the offseason to ensure their talent and depth was up to par in the deep NFC North. 
 
Now, after a late-season collapse fueled by injuries, they are ready to establish their place in the division and conference.  
 
This has the makings to be an outstanding game – if the wind is reasonable and Matthew Stafford’s finger isn’t broken – but expecting the Lions to go into Chicago and steal a victory on Monday Night Football may be a tad bit on the optimistic side. 
Prediction: Loss (4-2)
 
This is a game circled on the calendar of some Lions players, namely receiver Nate Burleson, guard Rob Sims and defensive end Lawrence Jackson, who all came to Detroit from the Seattle. 
 
The Lions shouldn’t disappoint the home crowd after a nearly month long absence from Ford Field.
 
The only caution: beware of the potential trap game
Prediction: Win (5-2)
 
Simply put, this is a game the Lions should win. 
 
Blaine Gabbert did little to justify his first-round draft status in 2011 and the Jaguars don’t have the type of offensive or defensive talent that strikes fear in the heart of opponents.  
 
If the Lions are mentally prepared for this game, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem adding one to the win column. 
Prediction: Win (6-2)
 
Week 10, @ Minnesota Vikings
At this point, the Lions are once again 6-2, have a two-game winning streak and own a four-game winning streak against the Vikings. 
 
They should enter as favorites in this game and have the opportunity to separate themselves from some of their competition in the standings. 
 
The fans and media will most likely be more focused on the contest against the Green Bay Packers coming up the next week. 
 
Still, it should be remembered, it took an improbable second-half comeback to beat the Vikings on the road last season and Minnesota will remain one of the toughest road destinations. 
Prediction: Loss (6-3)
 
Week 11, Green Bay Packers
The Lions have lost 12 of 13 games against the Packers, including being swept last season.  
 
If the Lions truly want to take the next step in their growth and prove they belong amongst the NFC contenders, they must win this divisional contest at home. 
 
This could be a measuring stick game for the Lions, an opportunity to truly assess their standing after their easiest stretch of the schedule. 
Prediction: Win (7-3)
 
Week 12, Houston Texans
This could be one of the most enjoyable viewing experiences of the season. 
 
This game features two – when healthy – explosive offenses and arguably the game’s two best receivers.
 
The Last time these two teams met was during the Lions infamous 0-16 campaign, where Calvin Johnson was just beginning to establish himself as an upper-echelon receiver and Andre Johnson was making his case as the best in the league.
 
Andre Johnson had 11 catches and 141 yards in that game while Calvin Johnson – on the strength of a 99-yard touchdown – produced 154 yards and a score. 
 
Both players may have this one circled on the calendar. 
Prediction: Win (8-3)
 
Week 13, Indianapolis Colts
On paper, this is potentially the most lopsided contest on the Lions schedule. 
 
A home game against a rookie quarterback on a team that struggled to a 2-14 record a season ago.
 
In the NFL, what is on paper doesn’t always occur on the field.  However, with a few extra days to rest and prepare, the Lions should take this one.
Prediction: Win (9-3)
 
Week 14, @ Green Bay Packers
The Lions haven’t won in Green Bay since 1991 and they weren’t given any favors with a December game, at night, in Lambeau this year.  
 
This game could have significant divisional and playoff implications.  
 
If the Lions win, they could put themselves in good position to host a playoff game, if they lose, they may find themselves in a battle for a Wild Card playoff berth.
 
Still, it’s hard to bet against the Packers in this situation.
Prediction: Loss (9-4)
 
Week 15, @ Arizona Cardinals
The Larry Fitzgerald Vs. Calvin Johnson matchup figures to soak up most of the hype in this one. 
 
After failing to secure Peyton Manning, the Cardinals are left hoping that Kevin Kolb can prove to be a better option than backup John Skelton
 
Despite their potential quarterback issues, the Cardinals have talent on their roster and are tough to beat in the desert. 
 
A west coast trip is never easy, especially after a tough divisional matchup, on the road, on Sunday night. 
Prediction: Loss (9-5)
 
Week 16, Atlanta Falcons
The Lions lost a close contest against the Falcons in Ford Field in 2011. 
 
The contest also spawned accusations of “dirty” conduct by both teams and 2012’s primetime matchup could produce some fireworks. 
 
To add fuel to the fire, this game could have significant playoff implications for both teams. 
 
This should be a tightly contested game but it’s hard to see the Lions dropping home games in consecutive years to the Falcons. 
Prediction: Win (10-5)
 
Week 17, Chicago Bears
This game has an outside chance to determine the winner of the NFC North and a more possible chance to solidify a playoff berth for one of these teams.
 
The Lions are fortunate to be the home team.
 
Look for the Lions to defend their home turf. 
Prediction: Win (11-5)
 
Summary
Admittedly, it is way too early to be able to accurately predict the outcome of a season for any team.  However, one must believe with the vast majority of the team intact and help coming from the draft, the Lions should progress forward from 2011.
 
At the moment, this season’s schedule appears to be less difficult than that of a year ago.  However, strength of schedule becomes less significant when considering the NFC North houses three teams that are widely considered to be playoff caliber. 
 
Injuries, a string of bad games or even some unfortunate luck could do tremendous damage to the season of the Lions, Bears or Packers. However, all things equal, look for the Lions to find their way back into the post season. 
 
 

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