Detroit Lions: 4 Bold Predictions for the 2015 Season

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Matthew Stafford Will Throw 40 Touchdowns in 2015

Matthew Stafford. You either love him or you hate him.

At least that seems to be consensus from the Detroit Lions fan base. Stafford has drawn his fair share of criticism over the years due to some poorly made decisions and off target throws during his six-year career as the Detroit Lions starting quarterback.

In 2011, after back-to-back injury shortened rookie and sophomore campaigns, Stafford put up 5,038 yards though the air with 41 touchdowns in route to the Lions first playoff appearance of the 21st century. The ceiling seemed unlimited for the young signal caller from Texas, but things would quickly change.

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In the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Stafford would combine to throw for over 10,000 yards and 49 touchdowns, but also threw 36 interceptions along the way. 2013 in particular stung, and the turnovers always seemed to come at the most inopportune of times for Detroit, costing the Lions more than one game throughout.

Stafford’s lack of progression as a pro led to the eventual firing of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, and then head coach Jim Schwartz would soon get the axe as well. That would however open the door for current head coach Jim Caldwell to enter the fray, and may have been the best thing that could have happened for Stafford.

In his first season under coach Caldwell, Stafford threw for just 4,257 yards and 22 touchdowns, but more importantly, he also cut back on his turnovers with just 12 interceptions. While some viewed this as a continued regression for Stafford, that was not at all the case.

When people think of Stafford, they think of his big arm — and rightfully so. He shattered the record books with it during his first five seasons in the league. That includes becoming the Lions’ all-time leading passer by age 26, as well as becoming the fastest quarterback in league history to 20,000 yards. There is however, more to his game.

The more conservative approach led by new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi allowed Stafford to work on correcting his mistakes and improve his decision-making abilities.

As far as 2015 goes, I feel like we can expect more from Stafford and the rest of the Detroit Lions offense.

"“Last year there was a whole new offense going in with a whole new terminology,” he said. “Quite a few new faces last year coming in during the offseason, and expected to be big parts of our offense. And then, I think, just getting to know the personality of the guys you’re dealing with — the coaches. “And now, this time this year, it’s great to see them again. You know them, you know what they’re all about, you know what you’re going to get from each guy and how they work. Feel obviously more comfortable in the offense. We’ll add more things this year that we didn’t have last year. Tweak the offense to make sure we play as good as we can.”"

There is also vast improvement on the offensive line and in the Lions backfield.

Stafford was sacked a career-high 45 times last year, as the o-line often struggled and was decimated by injuries. Left guard, Rob Sims, was the only player to start all 16 games, and the original five guys, (Riley Reiff, Sims, Dominic Raiola, Larry Warford and LaAdrain Waddle) only started three games as a unit, (weeks 5-7).

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Detroit looked to correct that problem early on in this years NFL Draft, when they not only drafted Laken Tomlinson, but also acquired former Lion Manny Ramirez in a trade with the Denver Broncos.

Detroit also nabbed an excellent compliment to Joique Bell in round two when they selected Ameer Abdullah out of Nebraska.

This new look Lions offensive line and complimentary running attack should do wonders for Stafford. With familiarity now on his side, and upgraded offensive line protecting him, and a running game that will help open up the pass, I fully believe we will see a rise in Stafford’s touchdown throws.

In fact, I think he’ll go over the 40 mark for the second time in his career, while also keeping his interceptions under 15.

Next: Can The Lions End The Playoff Plague?