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Realistic Expectations for 2007

Since we are now halfway through the preseason, I figured it is now a good time to lay out what is expected from the Lions in 2007.  I know, I know, the preseason doesn't mean anything, but it does give us a good general idea of what exactly we will see out of some players.  Basically, the roster is taking shape and all that is left now is to start making predictions.

In the next couple weeks, we will hear "experts" say who they think will win the NFC North, who the surprise team of '07 will be, and various other predictions.  Here at Pride of Detroit, the only thing all of you obviously care about is what the Lions will do in the 2007 season.

I've gone through the schedule quite a few times and am still really not completely sure what the Lions' record will be this coming season.  In the end, I see Detroit going 6-10, but it easily could be better or worse than that.  Depending on how many games Jon Kitna throws away in the fourth quarter or how many games the defense randomly dominates, Detroit could end up winning 8 or 9 games or only 4 or 5.

To get an idea of what all of you think out there, I put up a poll asking how many games the Lions will win in 2007.  After 145 responses (as of the time this article was posted), the results come in as pretty interesting.  Getting the record that would mirror 2006 out of the way first, only 4% of you think Detroit will do just as bad or worse than last season.  That's good, at least there is optimism of better things to come out there.  Moving up the win ladder a bit, 26% believe the Lions will get 4-6 victories.  That is really the safest vote going by the fact that Detroit never loses less than 10 games any more.

Getting into uncharted territory for the Lions, a whopping 44% of voters predict Detroit to win 7-9 games. That is where I'm surprised the most. I don't know if it is the usual optimism before each season that things will get better or what, but the majority of you think the Lions get close to, at, or over .500.

Going up to an amount of wins that probably is a tad unrealistic, 24% of you are going against the norm and are predicting 10 or more wins for the Lions in 2007. I don't know if Jon Kitna was just out there voting over and over again, but I am really surprised that this number was so big. I mean, I can be optimistic all I want, but there is no way I can see Detroit winning 10 or more games. I truly hope I'm wrong in the end, but we'll see.

As far as what I expect to see out of the Lions in '07, it is just getting better. Since Matt Millen came in, the win totals for each season have been a roller coaster, but one thing that is constant is they are always 6 or less For 2007, that is what I expect. With a year under his belt, Rod Marinelli was able to weed out the players that he felt didn't fit in his system, and that no doubt should contribute to making this team better.

All I want to see is 8 wins. Getting 7 would be nice simply because it would mean Detroit didn't lose double digit games yet again, but 8 is what I'm hoping for the most. Getting to .500 would be such a great accomplishment simply because this is the Lions we're talking about. No matter what happens, Detroit always seems to be in the cellar, so now is a time to change that.

I'm not going to go Jon Kitna on all of you by making "out there" predictions or anything like that, but getting 8 wins would probably put Detroit very close to the top of the NFC North. I know we shouldn't even use the word playoffs right now, but like I said, if some of those close games go in Detroit's favor, then this team could be very close at the end of the season.

Since these expectations are supposed to be realistic, here are three quick predictions I will give you for the 2007 season.

1. Jon Kitna throws for 4500 yards.
If I really wanted to man up I would increase that number to 5000, but I'm not going to go there just yet. With the Mike Martz offense and receivers like Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson, and Mike Furrey, Kitna should be able to get to 4500 rather easily if he stays healthy all season.

2. The defense isn't the teams downfall.
Trust me, I've questioned the defense after watching the starters played rather poorly against Cincinnati, but I really don't think the defense will be what makes this team lose games. With an offense that has the ability to outscore the opponent, the real downfall of this team in the end will probably be closing out the game. Just think of it as having Todd Jones as your closer. On some nights he's lights out, but on others, it's pure disaster. That's how I see it with Kitna. He'll make a comeback once or twice for a win, but turn the ball over or make a costly mistake more than just twice to cost the Lions a win.

3. A year from now we are talking 8 wins.
There is no doubt that after a 3-13 season the only way to go is up. Since I predicted that Detroit will win 6 games in 2007, this will be a big step in the right direction for the future. By this time next year, the team should be better than they are right now, leading me to think that 8 wins will be in the Lions' reach. Of course, any usual Matt Millen screw up could change that in a second, but let's just think positive for the time being.

Speaking of predictions, I'm thinking I'll start rolling out my preseason predictions some time next week. I'll probably go through each division and predict the finish of all the teams, and then of course, pick my Super Bowl teams. Stay tuned for that, and until then, Go Lions.