Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 2/10/12
It may be going out on a limb to think that the Detroit Lions can make it to a Super Bowl just one year after its first playoff appearance in 12 years, but I think they can. The NFL is a changing league. The era of passing has begun and the last five Super Bowls have shown it. After seeing how the New York Giants and New England Patriots made it to the Super Bowl, I believe the Lions are equipped to do the same. Here are five reasons why I think the Detroit Lions can make it to the Super Bowl in 2013

5. Rushing Attack
Rushing attack doesn’t really seem to come to mind when you think of the Lions but it doesn’t have to. The Giants finished last in rushing in the entire league in 2011. New England wasn’t strong either finishing 20thin the NFL. In the postseason both teams finished middle of the pack at 6thand 7thof 12 teams. They mostly used the run to move the clock and control pace. Both teams helped keep balance by rushing from time to time but neither team was pounding the rock by any means.  The Lions finished 29thin the league in rushing; right between the Giants and Patriots. Just because you can’t run the ball doesn’t mean you can’t be effective in the playoffs.

4.  Total Defense
Defense wins champions right? Wrong. In 2011 defense was far from the reason either team made it to the big game. The Giants finished 27thin the league in total defense, giving up 376 yards a game and 25 points per game. It would be hard to be much worse, but the Patriots were. They came in second to last in total defense, giving up a whopping 411 yards per game. The Lions were actually better than both teams coming in at 23rd. Having a great defense doesn’t hurt in the playoffs but it isn’t the end all be all for a championship anymore.

3. Scoring
There is no doubt that these three offenses can score, and the numbers back it up. The Patriots were third in the league in scoring this season averaging 32.1 points per game. The Lions finished right behind them at fourth with 29.6 points per game. The Giants weren’t bad either, ranking inside the top ten at ninth, punching in 24.6 points a game.  It is hard to lose when you can outscore almost anyone. The offenses of all three teams are potent and can keep them in any game.

2. Defensive Line
The defensive line has become one of the most important components of a defense in the new passing league. With more and more teams throwing the ball first and running second, the pass rush has become that much more important. It takes an athletic, big, deep defensive line nowadays to make an impact in the NFL. The Patriots have an effective rush anchored by big man defensive tackle Vince Woolfork. New England leaned on him during the playoffs to get after the QB and stop the run. The Giants can just flat out sack the quarterback. They had 48 sacks and two huge ones late in the Super Bowl against the Patriots. The Lions are very similar to both teams. Ndamukong Suh anchors the Lions defense and makes an impact just being on the field. They also have a good pass rush with guys like Cliff Avril and Corey Williams. Detroit has an up and coming d-line and fit the same mold as the Giants.

1.Elite Quarterback
When it comes down to it, Super Bowl teams tend to have elite quarterback play. This year was no different. Eli Manning and Tom Brady have cemented themselves as elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Both guys have multiple championships and pro bowl appearances. Throwing the ball has become the norm and it takes clutch plays and big numbers by the quarterback to get to the Super Bowl in today’s game. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford looks like he’s on pace to join Manning and Brady in the elite discussion. Stafford like Brady, threw for over five thousand yards and 40 touchdowns. He has the weapons and protection to get things done. If Stafford continues to mature and improve his game, he may be the quarterback to get the Lions to their first Super Bowl appearance.

It may seem like a long shot that the Lions could make the playoffs in 2013 but it’s very possible. It takes a great quarterback, good defensive line play and get some bounces their way down the stretch and they can do big things. 2013 is a big year for this Detroit team, and with these five reasons they have a real shot at making a run.
 

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