Football season is finally here! The NFL season kicks off this Wednesday when the Cowboys and Giants will kick off the 2012 edition of their rivalry on national television. For most of the NFL, the season kicks off Sunday and if you’re like me, you have been counting down the days until the Lions’ opener against the Rams since the schedule was released.
After watching the Lions’ preseason games it’s hard to judge where the Lions will stack up against the NFL elite. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson look poised for MVP-level seasons, but the Lions offensive line and running game has been very average, although the running game has a chance to be much improved once Mikel Leshoure gets acclimated to the NFL. The Lions’ defensive line looks stronger than last year and the linebackers are solid, but the secondary has been very streaky throughout the preseason. John Wendling could be a break out player this year if his preseason play is any indication of what he will do in the regular season.
The Lions roster should be good enough to contend with any team in the NFL, but some of their talent remains unproven. Titus Young, Willie Young, John Wendling, Bill Bentley, Nick Fairley, and Mikel Leshoure all have potential but it remains to be seen how they react to playing a big role. Every team expects to have ”break out players” each year, so the key to this season for the Lions is getting enough of those players to live up to their potential.
Staying healthy will be another key for the Lions this season as it will be for every team in the NFL this season. More importantly for the Lions will be staying healthy at the right positions, quarterback and secondary especially. If the Lions can do so it could be a special season.
Overall, the Lions are poised to have one of the best seasons they’ve had in a long time. It will be interesting to see if the defense can grow this season and become a steady unit overall. If the defense grows, the Lions should be able to make perhaps the hardest step in the rebuilding process, going from good to great.