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Lions check in at No. 21 in our preseason power rankings

stafford AP

Jim Schwartz is out and Jim Caldwell is in as the head coach of the Lions, but will they be any better this year?

Not really, at least as we see it. The Lions, who squandered a golden opportunity to run away with the NFC North late last season and ended the year at 7-9, look like they’re going to finish this season in the same range: We’ve got them at No. 21 in our preseason power rankings.

You can read the full Lions preview right here, but what it basically comes down to is that we’re not sold on Matthew Stafford developing as the kind of franchise quarterback Detroit needs, and we’re not sold that the Lions have any cornerbacks who can shut down opposing wide receivers.

PFT Planet, let us know if you think we’re too high, too low or right on the money in our ranking of the Lions.

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80 Responses to “Lions check in at No. 21 in our preseason power rankings”
  1. lnfinite says: Jul 12, 2014 3:06 PM

    Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too high….

  2. luz56 says: Jul 12, 2014 3:14 PM

    I hate to say it but Caldwell isn’t a HC…They have talent but Jim was a bad choice

  3. John Roc 65 says: Jul 12, 2014 3:16 PM

    Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too low…..

  4. John Roc 65 says: Jul 12, 2014 3:17 PM

    Lions will win the North this year…

    BOOK IT!

  5. John Roc 65 says: Jul 12, 2014 3:20 PM

    The Lions have done everything right this off season. Stafford is going to break pout and they have some solid young corners who will contribute well this year.

    All is well in Lions land. EFF THE HATERS!!!

  6. captainwisdom8888 says: Jul 12, 2014 3:21 PM

    There have been teams who’ve won superbowls with much worse offenses than the Lions currently have, so I think it’s pretty clear that the key to success for this team is an improved defensive unit. The quickest way to improve your defense in today’s pass-heavy NFL is to improve your D-Line, because when you can generate an overwhelmingly disruptive pass-rush than every defensive player behind them stands a better chance of succeeding. It’s truly a trickle-down effect…starting with the D-Line.

  7. dino2997 says: Jul 12, 2014 3:21 PM

    You guys are disrespecting Stafford’s two total wins against teams with a winning record?!?

  8. whatjusthapped says: Jul 12, 2014 3:22 PM

    We are already at #21, less than a third of the way thru and 2 teams in the NFC North are listed. The last place Vikings was to be expected but I didn’t think the Lion’s suck anywhere near that level.

  9. chrismgillis says: Jul 12, 2014 3:26 PM

    Too low. I don’t understand how everyone says our defense is horrible. Our defense kept us in the game most of the year. Gave up a few big plays, but so had the Shehawks. Our receivers we injured half the year. Stafford made a lot of mistakes, but what the fawk is he supposed to do when your receivers (other than Calvin) drop the ball half the time? Playoffs baby! Go Lions.

  10. baronvonheil says: Jul 12, 2014 3:27 PM

    Golden Tate and Eric Ebron are huge additions to any already potent offense. The lack of a a complimentary target to Calvin Johnson is a direct cause of many of Stafford’s poor decisions. If you had his arm and Calvin Johnson who’s never really covered you’d force throws too. Having other options to throw to well help Stafford take a huge step forward.

    Defensively I expect big things from Ziggy Ansah in his second year. Having a top good pass rush will help to cover the sins of a subpar back end, and the Lions have a super talented defensive line. In the modern NFL sacks and turnovers are what really count, throw the yardage numbers out, they are almost meaningless. This can be a defense that puts hits on the opposing QB and gets the ball for it’s offense. If they do that, this is a playoff team. This ranking is absurdly low.

  11. lks311 says: Jul 12, 2014 3:28 PM

    As a Lions’ fan, until they prove otherwise, this is appropriate.

  12. ajgreenhof says: Jul 12, 2014 3:30 PM

    Just right. Caldwell isn’t an impressive coach.

  13. isphet71 says: Jul 12, 2014 3:30 PM

    If the Lions are no better or worse than last year, they should be ranked around 17th, just out of the playoffs. 21 seems a tad low but overall pretty fair considering their past history.

    Doesn’t mean it can’t happen, though! If Stafford cleans a few things up and that defense can create some turnovers, the Lions are more than good enough in the other areas they need to make a serious run.

  14. firstclasspack says: Jul 12, 2014 3:32 PM

    I just don’t see 20 teams finishing the season with a better record than the Lions with Calvin Johnson, Mathew Stafford, Reggie Bush, Golden Tate, Joique Bell, Suh and that rookie TE Ebron that could be a rising star. That’s just too low in my opinion. The defensive line should make up for the shortcomings of the secondary.

  15. rextraordinaire says: Jul 12, 2014 3:37 PM

    “we’re not sold that the Lions have any cornerbacks who can shut down opposing wide receivers”

    Just looking at this year, it doesn’t bode well. Chicago and Green Bay whom they play twice, the ones in Atlanta and Arizona, And that wide end/tight reciever in New Orleans

  16. seatownballers says: Jul 12, 2014 3:40 PM

    Every game will be a shoot out. I’m taking Stafford in fantasy

  17. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 12, 2014 3:46 PM

    I agree with these very top critical concerns, but I thought that’s why they brought in the new coaches, to solve those problems, so if they do their job then this team can win it all.

  18. edzo82270 says: Jul 12, 2014 3:46 PM

    The Lions are like a real hot woman in a Seinfeld episode. Look fabulous in the summer, work out, just a winner in so many ways. Then you finally take her out and she whines, complains, is horrible when it counts, and ends up being a major dissapointment.

  19. iloveagoodnap says: Jul 12, 2014 3:55 PM

    Love the delusional Lions fans i.e. the strategy expert who think this team could win it all.

    Focus on winning your 2nd post-merger playoff game ever.

  20. 4thquartermagic says: Jul 12, 2014 3:58 PM

    But but but every player keeps harping about the “championship formula”!!!!

    (That formula of course being a star studded offense and a defense that couldn’t stop a nose bleed. )

  21. sportsfan18 says: Jul 12, 2014 4:04 PM

    Report comment
    John Roc 65 says:
    Jul 12, 2014 3:16 PM
    Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too low…..

    lnfinite says:
    Jul 12, 2014 3:06 PM
    Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too high….

    13 22
    Report comment
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Nope…

    Juuuuuuuuuuuuust right…..

  22. deltaoracle says: Jul 12, 2014 4:07 PM

    Just getting rid of Schwartz should give them a decent chance at going 9-7.
    If the Packers never have to play them again on Thanksgiving it’ll be okay with me. Will carry the mental scars of a couple of those games with me to the Beyond.

  23. bassplucker says: Jul 12, 2014 4:14 PM

    So the Lions are only one tick better than the Browns? I don’t think so.

  24. bassslaper says: Jul 12, 2014 4:24 PM

    John Roc 65 says:
    Jul 12, 2014 3:20 PM
    The Lions have done everything right this off season. Stafford is going to break pout and they have some solid young corners who will contribute well this year.

    All is well in Lions land. EFF THE HATERS!!!

    *******************************************

    The Eborn pick was the worst pick in the first round by any team, by far. The Lions need help in the secondary, their offense could already put up the points, they needed to address their defensive failures. Your first statement holds no water what so ever.

    Lions finish 3rd or maybe 4th in the NFC North. New coach, new system and your team has 2 seasons above .500 in the past 15 years. I think you need to get in touch with reality. There is a difference between hating and reality. Your team has long way to go before they can top the Bears and Packers and now the Vikings might take your gloried # 3 spot in the NFCN< <<<

  25. lionsdraftguy says: Jul 12, 2014 4:26 PM

    Biggest Lions fan in the world right here.

  26. thefiesty1 says: Jul 12, 2014 4:39 PM

    Your ranking doesn’t take into account how many games Stafford starts (or finishes). Not better than the Cowbabies or the Skins.

  27. pointywilliams says: Jul 12, 2014 4:43 PM

    edzo82270 says:
    Jul 12, 2014 3:46 PM
    The Lions are like a real hot woman in a Seinfeld episode. Look fabulous in the summer, work out, just a winner in so many ways. Then you finally take her out and she whines, complains, is horrible when it counts, and ends up being a major dissapointment.

    This is real, and spectacular! lol.. sorry, couldn’t resist.
    But Edzo is spot-on!

  28. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 12, 2014 4:51 PM

    iloveagoodnap:

    Aww thanks for the love, back at ya!

    And I gave them a conditional thinking that they “could” win. That’s not really being aggressively optimistic, and I think their ranking in this spot is fair given the consistency of letdowns.

    The bottom line is Stafford is the most overpaid QB in Lions history so far, but he does possess the talent and the tools to be a great QB. If he really wanted to and can get the right people to influence him, then he could be a tremendous QB. He still has a chance and time to ascend to a new level. Everything is in his hands and the coaches’ hands now, let’s see what they do, it will be very fascinating to watch regardless.

    The Lions have to decide if they want to learn another hard lesson, or start teaching them instead. There is no middle ground.

  29. firecracker87 says: Jul 12, 2014 4:59 PM

    Can someone tell me….Why was my comment posted and now disappeared? It seems to happen quite a bit.

  30. jimmysee says: Jul 12, 2014 5:05 PM

    So the Bears must be #20 — those two teams are twinkle-dee and twinkle-due.

  31. stellarperformance says: Jul 12, 2014 5:05 PM

    Talent . Execution. Luck . The Lions have the talent. They have problems executing. They ‘ll win if they’re lucky, but that’s it.

  32. filthymcnastyi says: Jul 12, 2014 5:26 PM

    Lions will beat the Packers twice this year as the Pack take up residence in the Nbasement!

    #therideisover

  33. bassplucker says: Jul 12, 2014 5:27 PM

    The Lions did manage to sweep the Bears last year. Not that the Bears were anything special, but that hasn’t happened in quite awhile. So I’d say that if Caldwell can get everyone on the same page in Detroit, the Lions are definitely a team on the up.

    The problem for the Lions (and Packers, and Bears) is that this year’s wildcard teams are very likely to come out of the NFC West and NFC South. 2nd place in the NFC North probably leaves you watching the postseason at home. On top of which, the NFC North teams play the NFC West teams this season and those are going to be some brutally tough matchups.

  34. lionsdraftguy says: Jul 12, 2014 5:29 PM

    @filthymcnastyi

    I am probably the biggest Lions fan you’ll ever come across, but I am still admiting the Packers are still the team to beat in the North. If you really believe the Packers will be in the basement, you clearly have zero knowledge of the NFL.

  35. filthymcnastyi says: Jul 12, 2014 5:40 PM

    Hey brainiac…its called stoking the fire! smh

  36. hyzers says: Jul 12, 2014 5:44 PM

    So the Bears, who the Lions swept last year, have the worst defense in the NFL are going to be better? What a joke. The Lions were in every single game last year and lost most of their games after leading in the 4th quarter. The team has gotten better and will be more disciplined this year. Way too low.

  37. slapmymonkey says: Jul 12, 2014 5:49 PM

    I understand the attraction of lists like this. However, until further notice, the following teams MUST be the bottom four: Cleveland, Jacksonville, Detroit and Houston. They have never been to a Superbowl. What makes anyone think this year will be different?

  38. packerbackernj says: Jul 12, 2014 5:59 PM

    The Lions are a good team, but Offense wasn’t their problem. Defense was. So what did they do? hire a head coach who couldn’t fix the defense Dungy left behind in Indy, and their first pick, a TE. Every Lion fan, come season end, will be shaking their head wishing their HC was Lovie Smith. The offense was in place, they just needed a HC to come in a clean up the mess of a defense.

  39. johnelwayishorsefaced says: Jul 12, 2014 6:01 PM

    What a ridiculous prediction. Obviously way too low.

  40. eoneil32 says: Jul 12, 2014 6:03 PM

    Wow. Lions are so much better than 21st.

  41. bobnelsonjr says: Jul 12, 2014 6:08 PM

    The Lions are are good.
    Good enough to really hurt their fans who know they are close but not quite there.
    You know those heartbreaking losses where just a few plays make the difference.

    9 or 10 wins. Ranked about 12-16 but the fans want them ranked a little higher.

    Their biggest problem is that Green Bay and Chicago also improved this offseason.

    21 is too low.

  42. ptisme says: Jul 12, 2014 6:10 PM

    A few decades back the Lions had a formidable team. And their fans were insufferable.

    When the Packers and Bears are leading the North, all is right with the world….

  43. tedmurph says: Jul 12, 2014 6:13 PM

    Another Thanksgiving down the drain watching the Lions and the Cowboys. Oh well, sleep thru those and watch the 49ers and Seahawks play some real NFL FB at night.

  44. lanman11 says: Jul 12, 2014 6:38 PM

    Not a good ranking for a team with “Super Bowl DNA” Were you guys not listening to Suh and Johnson? Lolzzz.

  45. johnnycash19 says: Jul 12, 2014 6:38 PM

    I know the NFL top 100 is a joke, but I thought I heard the Lions had 5 players on the top 100. I don’t know how that ranks up with someone like Seattle or San Francisco, but having 5 in the top 100 sounds pretty darn good.

    The Lions have talent all over the field.

    Talent wise, they arguably have a top 10 team.
    But until they prove it on the field, 21 is right.

  46. banky74 says: Jul 12, 2014 6:55 PM

    Incredibly difficult to judge this team. The roster has a couple of glaring weaknesses but overall is immensely talented. I daresay the most talented roster in the NFC North.

    It really all depends on if Caldwell is the guy that can reach this group of players and get them to buy into his philosophy. I don’t have the answer to that question.

  47. mazenblue says: Jul 12, 2014 7:06 PM

    Gotta earn your keep Lions. Either way we are better than Chicago.

  48. raji1824 says: Jul 12, 2014 7:17 PM

    That’s means my jets are better than them? I don’t think so to be honest.

  49. bassslaper says: Jul 12, 2014 7:22 PM

    mazenblue says:
    Jul 12, 2014 7:06 PM
    Gotta earn your keep Lions. Either way we are better than Chicago.

    *******************************************

    Packers 8-7-1
    Bears 8-8
    Lions 7-9
    Vikings 5- 10-1

    The Lions are better than the Bears??? You obviously have a serious issue with the Bears beating the Lions all these years, except last year even the Bears had a 3rd string defense and could barely beat them…

  50. steelerfan9598 says: Jul 12, 2014 7:45 PM

    That can’t be right, they have “Championship DNA”.

  51. bcgreg says: Jul 12, 2014 7:53 PM

    They are where I thought they were!

  52. jimjets says: Jul 12, 2014 8:33 PM

    J e t s. Jets jets jets

  53. staffordsyear says: Jul 12, 2014 8:43 PM

    bassslaper says: Jul 12, 2014 7:22 PM

    mazenblue says:
    Jul 12, 2014 7:06 PM
    Gotta earn your keep Lions. Either way we are better than Chicago.

    *******************************************

    Packers 8-7-1
    Bears 8-8
    Lions 7-9
    Vikings 5- 10-1

    The Lions are better than the Bears??? You obviously have a serious issue with the Bears beating the Lions all these years, except last year even the Bears had a 3rd string defense and could barely beat them…
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Oh but they did.

  54. bassslaper says: Jul 12, 2014 9:03 PM

    LoL, Staffordsyear…………..what Lions say every year and his last good year was at the collegiate level. Even Cutler is a probowler and every rips him. It would suck to be a Lions fan. It would suck to be Lions fan. It would suck to be a Lions fan. whoops, sorry did I type that repeating thought….

  55. bassslaper says: Jul 12, 2014 9:10 PM

    LoL, Staffordsyear…………..what Lions say every year and his last good year was at the collegiate level. Even Cutler is a probowler and every rips him. It would suck to be a Lions fan. It would suck to be Lions fan. It would suck to be a Lions fan. whoops, sorry did I type that repeating thought.

    Stafford sucks, Reggie Sucks and Golden Tate is HORRIBLE. You got a TE that claims a SB is coming to the Lions……I would be so confident if I was Lions fan too, lol!

  56. lionssuckthebearsarebetter4life says: Jul 12, 2014 9:24 PM

    staffordsyear, calinthegreat81, hyzers, mazenblue.

    a bunch of butthurt Lions fans that know the Bears have dominated there pathetic team for decades. Even Barry Sanders will agree….The Bears > The Lions

  57. lionssuckthebearsarebetter4life says: Jul 12, 2014 9:24 PM

    staffordsyear, calinthegreat81, hyzers, mazenblue.

    a bunch of butthurt Lions fans that know the Bears have dominated their pathetic team for decades. Even Barry Sanders will agree….The Bears > The Lions

  58. staffordsyear says: Jul 12, 2014 9:27 PM

    Have another one^.

  59. mistyzhang says: Jul 12, 2014 9:49 PM

    Vegas has them at 12, pft h8ters at 21.

    Perhaps they are somewhere in the middle of that. Say like 16

    Go Lion’s

  60. bassslaper says: Jul 12, 2014 9:49 PM

    Don’t know about the “lionssuck” guy but I had another and the Lions Still Suck.

  61. staffordsyear says: Jul 12, 2014 9:53 PM

    Look at all the silly bitter bears fans upset that you got swept by the pathetic lions last year!silly losers.

  62. lions81slappy says: Jul 12, 2014 10:01 PM

    Even as a die hard fan, I have to take a wait and see approach with this team, espescially since we have been fooled by “paper lions” in the past. With that being said, the lions averaged 23.5 points against per game last year, which was better than the bears, packers, jets and houston , who supposedly has a great defense.

    While their offense DOES put up a ton of yards, they routinely put their defense in terrible positions by turning the ball over and settling for FGs, on the way to a 24.7 PPG avg, which was worse than the packers and bears. Oh btw, both of their starting QBs were injured for a good part of the season. And they finished just ahead of the Vikes, who didnt even have a QB. So did their offense need a huge infusion of talent? YUP!

    So please dont act like the offense was some juggernaut like the broncos because they werent.

  63. cruzer1996 says: Jul 12, 2014 10:18 PM

    This is insulting.

  64. mistyzhang says: Jul 12, 2014 10:33 PM

    Okay bears fan’s nobodies afraid of the cutlet just as nobodies afraid of Stafford

    Typical bears fan thinks they’re some model franchise to be feared and respected. I hope you enjoyed 1985 cuz I certainly enjoyed 1957. Really we’ve only gone 28 year’s longer with out a title and that ain’t much longer seeing as how the earth is like 5 billion years old

  65. bassslaper says: Jul 12, 2014 10:43 PM

    Honestly, the Bears and Lions have no deep rooted problems. I must say that this started to get a little ridiculous and out of control.

    The Lions have the best WR in the game, a good QB and a solid D front line. The Bears have the 2nd best scoring offense in the league as of last year, but so do the Lions as far as I’m concerned. There is no reason we can’t all agree that the Packers have been at the top and any team in the NFC North other than them should top the Packers this season….(The Bears and Lions are heavy favorites)

  66. mazenblue says: Jul 12, 2014 11:43 PM

    Still beat the bears twice. However you want to make it out to be. I like it when you cry. Even Barry Sanders knows beating them twice makes us better than them.

  67. isphet71 says: Jul 13, 2014 12:12 AM

    Packers are probably a light favorite to win the division.

    Lions and Bears are a toss up for 2nd place and borderline Wild Card. Both defenses are suspect, both offenses are generally great but tend to choke under pressure.

    The Vikings are probably favored to be last. Their D is a little better than the Lions and Bears, but AP can only carry a team without a decent QB so far.

  68. enelsoniii says: Jul 13, 2014 12:19 AM

    The lions have the best o line and d line in the division. They also swept the bears and split with the packers. Keep in mind the loss to the packers was without Calvin.

    The pack has the best qb and a pitiful defense.

    The bears have the best skill position balance on offense but a mediocre o line and a terrible defense.

    Look for the lions and GB to slug it out as 11-5 teams.

  69. jameisxfamousxcrablegs says: Jul 13, 2014 12:35 AM

    They’re rated too low. I think the offense will be good, and Stafford should be better with these new weapons they brought in with Tate from Seattle and Ebron in the draft. On defense, I am intrigued by the changes made to the front seven, but I agree with the article that their achilles heel is at corner. None of their db’s really scare anyone. We’ll see if their pass rush can help cover up the weaknesses on the back end.

  70. buzzardpointlookout says: Jul 13, 2014 12:50 AM

    I was extremely unhappy when the Lions hired the Caldwell-Bot.

    I have them anywhere from 4-12 to 12-4.

    Sucks to be a Lions fan.

  71. dkgrumpy says: Jul 13, 2014 1:09 AM

    Eventually, life-long Lion fans’ optimism will pay off. It’s all about the odds.

  72. weaselpuppy says: Jul 13, 2014 2:22 AM

    Huge additions on an already good offense. Trenches are good, pass rush is good, if they get any CB play at all they go 11-5

  73. brandongonzalez118 says: Jul 13, 2014 4:21 AM

    I think the lions have a chance to win the division. They have a CHANCE. I still think green bay will win that division, but anything could happen on any given Sunday. That’s why they play the game. My main problem with the lions is their quarterback. Imagine if Stafford didn’t have Calvin johnson. Without Johnson, Stafford is very average at best, quite possibly mediocre (he does have a cannon for an arm though).

  74. american1022003usainrom says: Jul 13, 2014 5:21 AM

    First ,this is way to low they be somewhere in the top 15. Can and should the Lions make the playoffs ? Yes they have the potential what will it take ?
    1 playing a full 60 minutes every game all season
    2 cut down on mistakes
    3 offense play up to its potential
    4 defense creating pressure on the QB in critical situations
    The wild card for every team is health and surprise players who step up. Health you cant predict . Players who can surprise would be
    Riddick
    Slay
    Broyles
    Who needs to step up
    Fairly
    Van Noy
    Ebron
    THE COACHING STAFF

  75. turtlehut says: Jul 13, 2014 11:46 AM

    This ranking is too high with Jim Caldwell as the head coach. He is the man who tanked the last 2 Colts games because he didn’t want the pressure of a perfect season. He has difficulty making game time decisions and I doubt he will be able to instill any discipline in Detroit, something he was not pressed to do in Indianapolis.

  76. bassslaper says: Jul 13, 2014 12:19 PM

    Claiming a sweep on the Bears last year (a 3rd string defense = The Bears) is pretty pathetic. The Lions still finished behind the Bears. Enough already.

    The Lions swept the Bears by a combined 10 points in both games and you’re bragging about that. Be realistic, not desperate.

  77. meandmybadhabits says: Jul 13, 2014 2:32 PM

    At this stage in his career, Peyton Manning was in a similar position with slightly better stats – mostly due to a far better receiver corps that didn’t drop perfectly good throws. People seem to forget that part. Manning has only surpassed Stafford’s 4650 yards from last year THREE times – and those were the last three seasons he’s played. And don’t forget – Brett Favre was an interception machine, and last year Stafford’s TD-interception ratio was actually pretty good

  78. brend0 says: Jul 13, 2014 5:39 PM

    Lions are one of those teams, like Dallas, where you can pick a handful of really talented players, but not a whole team. To win consistently you need a team full of football players and you need depth. Look at what the Hawks and 9ers did last year after all their injuries, didn’t slow them down a bit. If the Lions lose 1 or 2 key players, they have 4th string quality guys backing them up. I would like to see the Lions do well, but they haven’t shown any consistency.

  79. calvinthegreat82 says: Jul 13, 2014 6:43 PM

    My Lions are way high! My Lions are terribad.

  80. bigwalt2990 says: Jul 13, 2014 8:17 PM

    Every Lion’s player this offseason/season has said the difference between Caldwell and Schwartz is night and day. They BELIEVE they can win a Championship. There is comradery and cohesiveness where there was none. The new staff is striving for a real family atmosphere. Players will sacrifice for each other. Discipline, accountability. If the Lions finally stop beating themselves, the sky isn’t even the limit.

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