The Lions open the 2013 season on Sunday. They host the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Most fans are hopeful of a victory in the opener and many more this season as the Lions try to rebound from a terrible 2012 season in which they finished 4-12, including eight straight losses to end the season.
The Lions have improved their roster, especially with the addition of free-agent running back Reggie Bush. He should help the offense and open things up for All-World WR Calvin Johnson.
Still, there are a few things that make it hard to think the Lions will make it to the playoffs.
The offensive line is a question mark with three new starters. Will they be able to protect QB Matthew Stafford?
Speaking of Stafford, he was disappointing in the preseason with the first team offense. He just wasn't as accurate with his passes as most would like to see. It was an issue a year ago as well.
On defense, the Lions love their front line, but the linebackers and secondary are questions, too. Both have been issues for this franchise for more than a decade.
Add to that the fact that the Lions have the second-hardest schedule in the NFL and it appears the Lions will miss the playoffs again.
The Lions will go 7-9. Some football experts have them at 5-11 and 6-10.
It will spell bad news for coach Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew. Both are on the hot seat.
Moles say the Lions have to win a playoff game for the Fords to stay the course.
Two seasons ago, fans were thrilled with a 10-6 season and first trip to playoffs since 1999.
But many look at teams that struggled for a long time and eventually turned it around and the Lions aren't one of them.
The New Orleans Saints used to be called the 'Aints and fans wore bags over their heads. They won a Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay was a longtime laughingstock. The Bucs won a Super Bowl.
The Arizona Cardinals were terrible for a long time. They went to the Super Bowl and were within two minutes of winning it.
Even expansion team, the Carolina Panthers, have gone to the SB.
The Lions? They have won just one playoff game since 1957, back in 1991.
Hence, just making the playoffs and losing is no longer good for ownership. If true, good for the Fords. At this point, they should want more.
The Lions will be better, but not good enough once again.
subhed: Super Bowl Pick
Aaron Rodgers will lead the Green Bay Packers over the Houston Texans in the cold and possibly snow in early February.
Somehow, many have decided to forget that the best player, best offensive weapon is still ARodg.
In fact, in ESPN.com's listing of the Top 10 Offensive Players, Rodgers is No. 1. His numbers the last four seasons have been off the charts.
Last season, Rodgers had a QB rating of 108. He threw 39 TDs and just eight INTs. In the last two seasons, Rodgers has throw 70 more touchdowns (84) than interceptions (14). Even for Madden, absolutely sick.
There's no way you can ever count out a team that Rodgers is leading. In 2011, Rodgers led a beat up and injury-riddled Packers team to a Super Bowl victory, stunning the Pittsburgh Steelers. ARodg was, of course, the MVP.
Rodgers could easily win the NFL MVP again this season. He has everything you want in a QB, including a strong, accurate arm, agility, toughness and leadership.
Are the Packers perfect this season? No. They have a rookie running back in Eddie Lacy out of Alabama.
Plus, they are getting back a number of starters who were hurt a year ago. The defense will be better because of it.
The NFL, though, is a QB league and the Packers have the best one.
Hence, the storylines some want -- Peyton Manning trying to become first QB to lead two different teams to a championship or Tom Brady winning his fourth Super Bowl ring -- aren't going to happen.
When the snow settles at Super Bowl in Jersey, Rodgers will be holding the Lombardi Trophy over his head for the second time.