Team » Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions rebounded from a 1-7 start to the 2015 NFL season to finish 7-9 and third place in the NFC North. The Lions can't put themselves in that kind of hole in order to compete in a division featuring the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings heading into 2016. The Lions lost a franchise icon in Calvin Johnson, after the perennial All-Pro wide receiver announced his retirement. His production and leadership will be hard to match, and veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford is sure to miss the top target he's had his entire career. Golden Tate is expected to fill the void at the No. 1 receiver spot, and newly signed Marvin Jones from Cincinnati and former San Francisco 49er Anquan Boldin will be called upon as well. Detroit needs someone to emerge at the running back position, between second-year back Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, and Stevan Ridley. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah was the Lions only Pro Bowler on defense, and nose tackle Haloti Ngata will need to return to All-Pro form for the defense to be a force. Cornerback Darius Slay and linebacker DeAndre Levy will have to have a big year in leading a mostly unproven secondary and linebacker corps, respectively. The Lions hope for production out of their top two draft picks; Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker is expected to start and Detroit hopes that Alabama defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson can contribute. The Lions offense could be great, but they will need a lot of things to go right to compete for the NFC North crown competing against Green Bay and the Vikings.