The four biggest obstacles the Detroit Lions must get over in 2015

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Cut back on penalties

Aug 3, 2013; Metairie, LA, USA; A detail of an officials flag during a scrimmage for the New Orleans Saints at the team training facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

This has been a thorn in the Lions side for too long. In 2014 the Lions finished fourth in the league in penalties with 126 penalties. While an argument can be made out of a team like Seattle who led the league in penalties and still made it to the Super Bowl, in the Lions case it’s not how many penalties they got, it’s when they got them.

The Lions have made an extremely annoying habit of getting called for penalties at the worst possible time. For example on 3rd or 4th down when trailing late in the game. What a perfect time to get called for illegal hands to the face. Or on offense when the Lions need to score. That’s typically when they get called for holding.

The Lions must shed this poor habit. Or it could burn them again like it did in the Wild Card game when DeAndre Levy got called for holding on the most important 4th down of the game.

The good news is Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are gone. Putting together hypothetical 2014 numbers I realized that if Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker played for the Lions in 2014 instead of Suh and Fairley, the Lions would rank tenth in the league in penalties instead of fourth.

Next: Break the run game slump