The Detroit Lions have been a laughingstock ever since Matt Millen became team president in 2001. They have gone 24-72, worst in the NFL. Their losses have been in the double digits each year.
But now players are talking about double-digit wins, because coach Rod Marinelli has cleared most of the problems from the locker room and offensive coordinator Mike Martz has a full complement of weapons. In his second season under the management of Millen, Marinelli has surrounded himself with not only his type of players, but also a coaching staff that reflects his ideals.
Martz is among them, along with defensive coordinator and son-in-law Joe Barry. Unlike former defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, Barry is well-rehearsed in Marinelli's preferred "Tampa Two" defensive scheme. Still, while the exhibition season demonstrated a few of the team's strengths, it was obvious that there is still work that needs to be done.
The Lions expect to be an explosive passing team, and they are probably going to have to be. They have struggled to run the ball, and the defense -- while improved (in theory) -- is questionable, and an already problematic secondary was worsened with the loss of second-year safety Daniel Bullocks.
Yet, with a veteran signal caller in Jon Kitna and a loaded offense, which includes a stacked backfield and even more impressive receiving core, the team might be able to get away with outscoring most of the opposition.
Winnable road contests vary, but look plausible during the September 9 opener at Oakland, October 7 at Washington and a November 11 date with Arizona. If they take care of business at home, the potential to walk away with a winning record is possible.
Look for a lot of shootouts in 2007, and a few more Detroit victories.
RoarReport.com Season Prediction: 9-7 / 2nd / NFC North
Three keys for the season: