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NFL: How far will the Detroit Lions go this season?

October 3, 2011 | 10:11 am

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Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the surprising Detroit Lions, who have gone from a 0-16 season in 2008 to a 4-0 start this year. Check back throughout the day for more responses and weigh in by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.

Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune

The Lions are legitimate, no question. They have a dynamic quarterback-receiver combination in Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Their defensive line may be the best in football. They come to play well prepared and fired up.

Their biggest problem is they play in the same neighborhood as the world champions, and as of now the Packers still are carrying a bigger stick. The Lions are not flawless. There remain questions about their running game and secondary. As time goes on, it’s more likely that some of their shortcomings will be exposed. 

But if they can keep Stafford healthy they are going to be a playoff team, and they probably will be a playoff team that no one wants to go up against. Couldn’t you envision an NFC championship game in Green Bay between the two division rivals? It could happen.

[Updated at 1:28 p.m.:

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

With a dozen games to go in the regular season, it’s far too early to project where the Lions might wind up. But in terms of talent, Detroit is definitely a team that could make a deep run into the playoffs and maybe more. Staying healthy is the key, obviously, especially for the team’s big three of quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Calvin Johnson, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

What we do know about the Lions is they believe they’re never out of a game, as evidenced by their epic comebacks in consecutive weeks. That belief should carry them a long way. It will be interesting to see how this team plays in cold-weather road games. It’s a classic “dome” team in all respects, mostly because of that big defensive front, one that relies on size as much as speed.

Bill Kline, Allentown Morning Call

The NFC is so weak even Army would be at 5-2 odds to make the playoffs. All Detroit needs to do is go .500 the rest of the way to finish 10-6 and earn a wild card behind Green Bay. And remember, the Lions have played only one home game so far.

We’ll earmark the other wild card to the NFC South but beyond that, forget about the NFC West and the NFC East, where the Redskins will fold and the Cowboys and Eagles throw away more games than the quality-control inspector at Hasbro.

Detroit is no Super Bowl contender, as it can’t get by the Packers, but if the playoff bracket breaks the right way, a trip to the NFC title game would have the Motor City revved up in January.]

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Photo: Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford leaves the field after a 34-30 victory over Dallas on Sunday. Credit: Paul Moseley / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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