Grantland's Bill Barnwell is making it awfully difficult to not be optimistic about the 2013 Detroit Lions. Last week, he examined point differential from last season and made the case for why history suggests the Lions will improve their win total in 2013.
This week, Barnwell once again examined stats from 2012 and made another strong case for why the Lions will turn things around in 2013. In fact, he ranked the Lions No. 1 on his list of teams that are poised to make the playoffs this season after going 6-10 or worse last year.
Why does Barnwell like the Lions' chances of returning to the playoffs this season? There are a number of factors in play:
The probable comeback crown belongs to the Lions, who have just about every statistical indicator tracking in their favor. Their 4-12 season saw them produce the point differential of a 6.5-win team while going 3-8 in one-touchdown games. They had the league's third-worst turnover margin at minus-16, likely owing to their defense recovering just six fumbles last year. (Their recovery rate of 32.6 percent was the second-worst in the league.) They've also dumped return man Stefan Logan, who muffed six times last year and somehow took a knee on the 4-yard line. Remember: Sometimes, competency is enough.
Barnwell admitted that the Lions are a "scary" team because an injury to Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson or Ndamukong Suh could mean they are "basically toast." However, statistically speaking, the Lions fit the profile of a team that could turn bad luck into good fortune and go from 4-12 to being playoff bound in just one season.