If you were making a list of Super Bowl contenders you would probably say San Fransisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and the New Orleans Saints are the early favourites.
Just behind those three you would probably put the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers just based on the likes of Rodgers and Gronkowski, who should be fit again. But there is another team that should be included in this group though, the Detroit Lions.
Now you might be thinking, hold on a minute, last season the Lions finished third in the NFC North with a losing 7-9 record. To go from that to lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy is a massive turnaround in fortunes. Given all this, why the Lions?
Solid Offensive Line
The first reason is the Detroit Lions offense and the fact that it might just be the best offense in the NFL. Let's start with the offensive line. Last season only the Denver Broncos gave up fewer sacks than Detroit as the Lions rushed for the highest number of yards since 1998 when the legendary Barry Sanders was taking the handoffs.
Added to this, when it came to moving the chains on third and fourth downs when two or
fewer yards were needed the Lions ranked fourth in the NFL. When it came to delivering big the Detroit Lions offensive line delivered when the pressure was on.
Even better for the Lions though, is the fact that the offensive line unit is coming back this year. Whilst many other teams are having to reconstruct the line and bring in new talent the Lions should have the same starters they had last year. The line isn't the only thing going for Lions.
For the last six or so seasons the Detroit Lions offense has started and ended with Calvin Johnson - the best wide receiver in the NFL. Johnson frequently draws double coverage as teams struggle to contain him. Even whilst they do this though Johnson is still good for at least 1000+ yards every season.
This season though opposing teams won't be able to rely on the hope that shutting down
Johnson will shut down Matthew Stafford's passing game. More passing - the Lions have running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, who both received for more than 500 yards last season, and also added ex-Seahawk Golden Tate and rookie passing catching tight end Eric Ebron.
Over his career Stafford has only managed to complete more than 60% of his throws
once. With the weapons at his disposal this season look for him to do so again this year.
Difference makers on defense
Having a great offense might not mean much if you have to put up six or seven touchdowns a game because the defense is awful.
Chances are that the Lions defense isn't going to be the best in the league but it does have good shot at being top 10. The line has monster defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and the potential great Ezekiel Ansah - that should make the defensive line one to be feared and respected. Whilst second round draft pick Kyle Van Noy could be a difference maker on the pass rush.
They may not be getting much buzz yet but whisper it quietly this Lions team could go far.