Detroit Lions Early Prediction: 11-5


May 10, 2013; Allen Park, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (94) during rookie mini camp at Lions training facility. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The schedule is out, and fans of the Detroit Lions are already making early season-record predictions.  Some are lofty, some are pessimistic, some are realistic, and they all have one thing in common:  Hope.  Looking at the Lions’ talented roster, there is a tremendous amount of hope that this new coaching staff can lead the team to a division title, and in my opinion, the schedule definitely looks good for it.  Let me break it down, game by game, and show you why I’m calling for an 11-5 season.

Game One: Monday Night Football against the NY Giants.  If you recall last season, Detroit hosted the Giants (a team suffering a terrible season) and lost to them in overtime.  This season, the Giants are struggling for relevance, placed by most analysts as last in their division.  Detroit is hungry to win, expecting a great season, and the starters undoubtedly remember that close loss from last time.  Prediction: Lions, 28-13

Game Two: @ Carolina Panthers.  The Panthers played incredibly well last season, better than most fans thought they would.  Once they get their receiver issues sorted out, they should be just as challenging a team as last year, and the Lions have to go into their stadium.  Prediction: Panthers, 20-14

Game Three: Green Bay Packers, first division game.  As always, a tough divisional match-up.  The Packers are, of course, going to be playing hard to maintain their division-champ streak.  However, this is no longer a game that has Detroit worried.  The Lions showed last season that the Pack can be beaten at Ford Field (and what a Happy Thanksgiving that was), and will stop them again at home this year.  Prediction: Lions, 20-17 (close)

Game Four: @ NY Jets.  No offense to Jets fans, but Gang Green has seen better days.  I talk from experience here; the Jets are going to struggle this season like the Lions struggled ten years ago.  Prediction: Lions, 31-10

Game Five: Buffalo Bills, and the return of Jim Schwartz to Detroit (does any one really care about the pre-season?  I thought not).  The Bills are a hard team to predict.  They’ve got some good things going for them (like the run-game) but are still looking for a QB to compete.  Lions players have respect for their old coach, but will still happily send the Bills home with a loss.  Prediction: Lions, 17-7

Game Six: @ Minnesota Vikings, second division game.  Obviously, AP is going to get his yards.  There is only so much that can be done about that seeing as how he is the best RB in the league right now.  The Lions will seek to slow him down and mitigate the damage he does, while stopping the passing game completely.  It still isn’t clear who the Vikings will have throwing the ball.  They’ll want the win in their new stadium, but won’t get it in a close game.  Prediction: Lions, 14-10 (close)

Game Seven: New Orleans Saints.  Remember when they were the ‘Aints’?  Well, the only ‘aint’ this time around will be that the Lions aint winning this one.  Will the Motor-city Kitties make a game of it?  Sure.  Will Drew Brees pass all over Ford Field to take the win?  Unfortunately, I think so.  Prediction: Saints, 24-13

Game Eight: @ Atlanta Falcons (London).  This one is going to be a fun one.  The Falcons are still a talented team looking to get back to the playoffs.  By this point, both Atlanta and Detroit should have winning records, and this game will be close and hard-fought.  The Lions may lose this one, but I choose to stay optimistic here, and say they will get one more win before the week-9 bye.  Prediction: Lions, 10-7 (close)

Game Nine: Miami Dolphins.  Again, no offense to Dolphins fans, but I don’t even see this game as a contest.  Stafford will pass all-over Delmas, assuming Delmas isn’t riding the bench with injury.  Prediction: Lions, 35-10

Game Ten: @ Arizona Cardinals… for the third year in a row.  The last 2 seasons, the Lions went to Arizona and left with a loss.  Both games were very close and could have been won by Detroit, but you have to give credit to a Cardinals team that put up a fight.  This time, though, it will go for Detroit in another close game.  Prediction: Lions, 24-21 (close)

Game Eleven: @New England Patriots.  Would I love to see the Lions beat the Patriots in an away game?  You bet.  The reality, however, is that the Pats make the playoffs every year, and perennially make it to the AFC Championship, for a reason:  They are GOOD.  This will be the Lions’ toughest game all season by far, and another loss.  Prediction: Patriots, 34-17

Game Twelve: Chicago Bears (Thanksgiving).  The Bears are probably Detroit’s biggest division rival.  The Lions always seem to be fighting it out to stay ahead of them in the division.  This game will not only be entertaining, but will be important for BOTH teams.  It will be hard-won, but Detroit will come out on top due to superior play mixed with momentum.  The smell of a division title will lead the big cats to another turkey-day win.  Prediction: Lions, 21-13

Game Thirteen: Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Last year was a fluke.  At the end of the game, that should have been a Megatron touchdown, not a Megatron-chuck to a nearby defender that left those of us in the stands scratching our heads.  This game shouldn’t even be a contest, and Detroit will send those cream-sickle lovers home with heads hanging like it’s the NFC-Central all over again.  Prediction: Lions, 28-10

Game Fourteen: Minnesota Vikings.  At this point in the year, the season will be over for the Vikings.  They’ll be at the bottom of the division, and Detroit will sweep them with this game.  Prediction: Lions, 20-7

Game Fifteen: @ Chicago Bears.  The Bears will be number 2 in the division, fighting for a wildcard spot.  It will be a tough cold-weather game where the Lions take a loss and split with Da Bears.  Prediction: Bears, 17-10

Game Sixteen: @ Green Bay Packers.  The Pack will be sitting at third place at this point, with THEM playing for pride for a change.  They’ll still be looking to send a division rival a loss, even if a win won’t matter for them.  They will go out on a high note by beating the Lions in another cold, cold game.  Prediction: Packers, 13-7

There it is Lions fans; an 11-5 season that has Detroit take the division title for the first time since 1993.  They’ll finish 4-2 in the division, and secure the first Lions playoff game at Ford Field ever.  My final prediction:  a great year for Lions fans.