Can Lions Have Magical Year?

Smittened by the Lions 2-0 start, a caller to a local sports talk radio show was emboldened to pick the Lions to go to the Super Bowl. "That's right, I said it," stated the caller, "Super Bowl." Lions' insider Mike Fowler provides analysis on whether or not the Lions can "go magical" in 2004.

(ALLEN PARK) - Smittened by the Lions 2-0 start, a caller to a local sports talk radio show was emboldened to pick the Lions to go to the Super Bowl.

"That's right, I said it," stated the caller, "Super Bowl."

The caller cited other teams like the Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams of 1999, the Carolina Panthers of 2003 as teams who flew under the radar screen, after having subpar years a season earlier, and rose up to the challenge making it all the way to the ultimate game.

Could the Lions be in store for that kind of magical year? It is possible, but not probable.

Detroit is likely a year away from being a serious contender for a Super Bowl spot. In fact, over the next three-week period, the Lions will find out just how good they are.

They host Super Bowl contender Philadelphia at Ford Field on Sunday. The Eagles dispatched likely NFC North division champ Minnesota despite Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings racking up over 400 total yards of offense.

After Detroit deals with Donovon McNabb, Terrell Owens and Co., they have the bye week, which should see the return of corner Dre' Bly, tackle Matt Joyce and corner Andre Goodman from injuries. Then Detroit must go on the road to deal with Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons, an extremely tough test.

Still, fans can dream, but for Detroit to have that magical season, several players would need to have career years including:

1. Joey Harrington. Like him or loathe him, he's the 'straw that stirs the drink'. If Harrington can continue the torrid pace he set against Houston (completing 72% of his passes and compiling a 114.8 passer rating) Detroit will have a shot.

2. Kevin Jones - Jones is still getting his feet wet, but he would have to begin turning in 100 yard games with regularity by Week 8 for Detroit to go magical.

3. Roy Williams - He's shown signs of making the leap successfully from rookie to playmaker. As Williams himself said, "see me around week 14" and if we have a winning record and a chance at the playoffs "I'll get excited."

4. The offensive line - Stockar McDougle and Damien Woody combo is the key to the team's running game. If they can establish domination against opposing run threats, then see #2.

5. Teddy Lehman - Lehman must step in and be at least as productive as Boss Bailey was, he has to excel at coverage and stuff the run, in short he has to become a playmaker.

6. Detroit's aging safeties - Lions' Brock Marion and Bracy Walker would have to shake off their wheelchairs and capture the magic one last time. But don't laugh, Walker has already had two stellar weeks while Marion has had flashes. Can they sustain it for 16 weeks plus the playoffs?

7. Dre' Bly and Fernando Bryant - These two have to get the kind of takeaways that Walker has shown a penchant for early in the season. They also would have to shut down the high profile receivers, such as Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison, who Detroit will face in upcoming weeks.

8. Jason Hanson - No missed clutch kicks, period. As the season winds down with a playoff spot on the line, most games come down to special teams and field goals. Hanson has proven he can make the clutch kick, but he has seldom been tested under the white hot heat of a close playoff game. He needs to be money.

With longterm injuries to players like Charles Rogers and Boss Bailey, it is unlikely that Detroit can capture what it takes to make the unlikely leap from 5-11 to Super Bowl participant, but it isn't impossible.

Hey, we can dream can't we?

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