In overcoming the ghosts of seasons' past, the Lions just might have treated their fans to something we didn't see coming...An unstoppable red zone offense, or at least a red zone offense that can only be stopped by the Lions themselves.
Sure, Lions fans had to relive the nightmare of Calvin Johnson failing to "complete the process" from when they were cheated out of an opening day win against the Bears in 2010.
We even withstood a swift kick to the gnards when Adrian Peterson took the Vikings first offensive snap of the season 78-yards for a touchdown, reminiscent of Matt Ryan converting his first ever NFL pass into a 62-yard touchdown on opening day in 2008.
And even after leaving between 28-31 points on the field attributable to a dropped FG snap, dropped passes, a dropped interception that would have gone for a touchdown, a needless penalty that negated another potential interception return for a touchdown, and Brandon Pettigrew's best efforts to turn Ford Field into a bowling alley (and that was just in the first half!), the Lions finally teased us with a reason for some optimism...Their red zone offense.
The Lions already have the game's most fearsome receiver in Calvin Johnson, who combines size, speed and strength in a way that the NFL has never seen before.
In fact, last year teams even began covering him in the red zone in ways that had never been seen before, such as putting "gunner" coverage on him to prevent him from getting off of the goal line, or bracketing him with a safety over top and a linebacker underneath of a cornerback playing man coverage.
Of course, the Lions front office remedied that coverage problem this offseason by signing Reggie Bush, who can make teams pay underneath either as a running or receiving threat out of the backfield when they double or triple cover Megatron.
Like Megatron (and unlike Mikel Leshoure last season), Bush is an offensive weapon that defensive coordinators must account for on every single play. That alone takes away the opposition's ability to bracket Johnson with a linebacker as they did for much of last season.
Look for the Lions to play plenty of "21" personnel (2 TE's and 1 RB) in the red zone this season, with hybrid TE Tony Scheffler proving to be too big for safeties to cover, and too fast for linebackers.
But the most pleasant surprise of the Lions week 1 victory over the Vikings was the way they utilized undrafted free agent rookie TE Joseph Fauria.
Standing 6'8 and having exceptional hands, Fauria is an absolute nightmare of a match-up for opposing defenses in the red zone, especially when he will most likely be faced with single coverage given the attention that they will have to pay to Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush.
That much was evident when Fauria scored on an all but uncontested 1-yard TD over Vikings cornerback Chris Cook, who was unable to muster much opposition at all to the lob pass that Mathew Stafford threw to his new towering and isolated target.
Throw Ryan Broyles in the mix, and the Lions have the makings for an unstoppable red zone personnel grouping this season.
While Broyles did not play in week one as a precaution from his his offseason knee surgery, once he returns Broyles will be the perfect compliment given his stellar route running and propensity to find seams in zone defenses, which is what NFL teams predominantly play in the red zone.
On paper, this looks good...Maybe even too good. Now all that's left is for the Lions to execute and stop stopping themselves.