The son of Detroit Lions owner, Bill Ford, had plenty to say about how he feels about the 2012 Detroit Lions at a Detroit Economic Fund luncheon yesterday. In regards to the Lions first playoff appearance in twelve years, Ford stated that it would be nothing in comparison to “when” the team wins the Super Bowl.
The thought of the Lions in the Super Bowl still probably gets a few heads shaking and eyes rolling, but is it really that crazy of a thought? Is it any crazier than thinking the Cardinals made a Super Bowl just a few years back? That’s the thing about this league; things can change just like that.
But Bill Ford Jr. didn’t just leave it at hearsay, he doubled down on it by saying “When the Lions win the Super Bowl, this city will have a party like we haven’t seen before.”
So is he crazy? Or are the Lions legitimate Super Bowl contenders this year? Let’s examine.
First the reasons why they are not. Obviously, their defense showed many gaps last season and they were shredded by potent offenses consistently. Next, they aren’t going to fly under the radar this year. People know that this isn’t the Lions team of the last decade plus.
True, Barry Sanders isn’t walking through that door, but they have enough star power in Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh that teams know who they are now and longer place a “W” next to them on the schedule before they play them anymore.
Lastly, as explosive as their offense can be, the lack of a true running game places a higher risk on their quarterback who has had a history of struggling with injuries.
As for the reasons why they are, look at the trio of players I just listed. Stafford (do I really need to add the obligatory “if healthy” next to his name every time?) cemented himself in the top third of NFL quarterbacks last year. He can sling it as good as any other quarterback in the league and he can air it out a lot.
When you’ve got a guy like Calvin Johnson on the receiving end of a lot of those throws, you’re going to succeed more times than not. Stafford understand that when you got a guy like Megatron out there, sometimes you just have to air it out and let your playmaker make a play. And Johnson does that much more than he doesn’t.
As far as Ndamukong Suh, for as much controversy and criticism that he gets from fans and media around the league, they’d all love his antis if he was on their roster. Look, I’ve been on record saying that I think Suh shouldn’t be punished just because he’s better than any other player on the field.
Suh makes the same play a guy like J.J. Watt makes and he gets hit with a roughing penalty. He’s officiated like the kid in middle school who is over a hundred pounds more than all the other kids and I think it’s ridiculous. Does he let his anger get out of hand sometimes? Of course. He’s still young. But I still think he’ll be wearing a yellow jacket someday.
Finally, my final prediction is that Detroit can make some noise in the NFC for sure, but they still have too many question marks to get to the dance this year. It really depends on how fast they can develop their rookies as their defense is still suspect. Many say that’s a moot point because their offense is so good, well, ask the Packers how that worked out for them last year.
Lastly, playing in on of the tougher divisions in the league could prove problematic. Four games against Green Bay and Chicago is quite a task. The Packers can match, and probably overtake them in an offensive shootout. And Chicago has a tough enough defense, and a better overall balance, to win a close game with them when push comes to shove
It’ll be a fun division and, as a fan, it’ll be fun to watch. I admire Bill Ford Jr. and his optimism. I mean, no team executive should come out and say “yeah, we might be okay this year.” Just be careful with a “Super Bowl or Bust” attitude. That’s how you create a disgruntled fan base when, or if, it doesn’t happen.