Friday, February 14, 2014

The Lions had to release Burleson and Delmas in order to give the team to Stafford and Suh

Many may look at yesterday's release of Nate Burleson and Louis Delmas as puzzling moves, especially since both expressed a willingness to return at restructured salaries and their status as the team's unquestioned leaders on offense and defense.

Ironically, it was their strong leadership that forced the Lions to release them.

In order for franchise players Mathew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh to reach their full potential, this has to become their team, and that was never going to fully happen with strong leaders like Burleson and Delmas on the roster.

With no veteran presence left in the locker room to defer to after their releases, this team instantly falls under the control of Stafford on offense, and Suh on defense.

It will now be up to those two players to learn their new playbooks, lead offseason workouts, and bridge the gap between the new coaching staff and the rest of team.

If Stafford and Suh embrace those roles and their teammates respond, they'll be the face of the franchise for years to come. And if not...Well, let's try not to think about that.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

2014 Mock Draft: Post Super Bowl

Here is my Post Super Bowl 2014 NFL Mock Draft. It will be followed by updates before and after the NFL Scouting Combine up until the NFL Draft on May 8th.

My mock draft has been linked by The Football Fan Spot, Sports Jabber, DC Pro Sports ReportWalter Football, FF Toolbox,, The Football ExpertFantasy Football Help Desk, The Huddle Report, Niners Nation, EDS Football, NFL Mock Draft Central, NFL Pro Zach and No Limits Sportsline Fantasy Sports in their Mock Draft Databases.

This is not a mock draft where I attempt play general manager and substitute my own judgment for the 32 NFL teams.

I do my best to research what particular players or positions each team may be targeting based upon the opinions of reliable beat writers and insiders in order to provide links and analysis as to why a team may be focusing on a particular player.

1st Round

1. Houston Texans – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: The Texans have a new coach, who needs a new quarterback. Sure, Matt Schaub had some good years, but you just don't ever come back from serious lisfranc fractures as the same player. Unfortunately for the Texans, there is no clear cut option at QB at #1, at least not yet. Watch for Cleveland as a potential partner to trade down with.

2. Cleveland Browns (from Washington, via projected trade with St. Louis) - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A and M: Once again, the Cleveland Browns and their front office are in turmoil. Not only did they botch their search for a new head coach, but they're tipping their hand through rumors that they would be willing to trade up for another high risk pick like "Johnny Football." The Browns and their new offensive coordinator Brian Shanahan also appear to have an interest in trading for Kirk Cousins, although I'm not sure that he would even be an upgrade over his former mentor at Michigan State, Brian Hoyer.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: Much like the Browns, Jacksonville owner Shad Khan has already disclosed that he intends on drafting a new quarterback for the Jaguars. And while that's not a surprise, it does put another quarterback hungry team like Cleveland on notice to trade up if there's a player like Johnny Manziel that they truly want. In that event, Jacksonville will either be forced to settle for a consolation prize or draft the best player available. Fortunately, DE is also huge need for the Jaguars.;;;

4. St. Louis Rams  – Jake Mathews, OT, Texas A and M: I look for the Rams to trade down, possibly with Cleveland at #4, and still have the opportunity to select the tackle or true go-to WR that Sam Bradford desperately needs. With the St. Louis holding two first round picks and the draft deep at both positions of need, they can trade down and still go with their highest rated player available at their positions of need.

5. Oakland Raiders - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: Oakland has huge needs at key positions like QB, WR and DE. If Jadeveon Clowney is not available, the Raiders could add a playmaker at WR in Sammy Watkins and target an established QB like Michael Vick or Josh Freeman in free agency.;;

6. Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson, T, Auburn: Whether it's Jake Mathews, Jadeveon Clowney, or Greg Robinson, the Falcons desperately need help on the edges of their offensive and defensive lines. Even if it's Auburn OT Greg Robinson, the Falcons would be ecstatic to find an upgrade over Sam Baker.;;

7. Tampa Bay Bucanneers – Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA: The Buccaneers are going back to the Tampa Two defense under new head coach Lovie Smith, which means they will put a premium on getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks from their front four without the benefit of any blitzes from their LB's or DB's. There is some question as to whether Anthony Barr from UCLA projects as defensive end or an outside linebacker, but Tampa has some bigger defensive ends to utilize in run packages as he bulks up.

8. Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortels, QB, Central Florida: Unless they really see something they like in Blake Bortels or Derek Carr, the Vikings could find themselves on the ass end of the QB lottery. As of right now, there's enough hype around Central Florida's Blake Bortels that could support him being a top ten pick. With Matt Cassel voiding his option for the 2014 season, I don't think they have any other choice.;;

9. Buffalo Bills – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A and M: I'm not sure that the Bills' biggest need is at WR, but the needs that they do have at S, G, OLB, and TE are all addressable in the middle rounds of the draft. In all honesty, the Bills are pretty mediocre across the board, but absent a veteran QB, some more help on offense is their best chance for immediate improvement.

10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: The Lions two biggest needs are for an elite CB and a WR opposite Calvin Johnson. Because this is a deep WR draft, the Lions would be wise to get their lock down corner while they are still available in Round 1, while filling their need for a #2 receiver like Jordan Mathews of Vanderbilt on the second day of the draft. While local product Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State is an option at CB, the Lions have expressed an interest in bigger corners, making Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State their more likely target.;;

11. Tennessee Titans – Stephon Truitt, DE, Notre Dame: Tennessee had a huge need at pass rusher last season. Stephon Truitt would provide them with a prototypical "5-Technique" pass rusher as they transition into more of a 3-4 defense.

12. New York Giants – Zack Martin, T, Notre Dame: The Giants offensive line is a complete mess, and LT is the best place to start to address that problem. Drafting a true LT would have a positive cascade effect, allowing Will Beatty to move to RT and Justin Pugh to G. With his performance at the Senior Bowl, Zack Martin may have propelled himself over Taylor Lewan, who didn't live up to his hype at Michigan.;

13. St Louis Rams - Marqise Lee, WR, USC: In this scenario, the Rams have already landed their LT of the future in Jake Mathews, and wait to get an explosive #1 WR with their second pick of the first round. Alternatively, they could target Sammy Watkins with their first pick, and a LT like Taylor Lewan or Zack Martin with their second, but this plays out as the better all around value.;

14. Chicago Bears – Ha Ha Clinton Dix, S, Alabama: The Bears aging defense has finally caught up to them with major holes at CB, S, LB, and DT...And that's before a salary cap decision has even been made on Julius Peppers. For now, a safety with cover corner skills like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix seems like a good start to fill one of those holes, but a DT to potentially replace Henry Melton or a LB may also be considerations.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame: The Steel Curtain is broken, and part of the reason is the huge hole that has existed at NT since Casey Hampton was let go due to age, injuries and salary. Steve McLendon was a complete failure as Hampton's replacement against the run, and Cameron Heyward and Louis Nix III out of Notre Dame would be a nice start in re-establishing a defensive line that can shut down the run.

* Dallas Cowboys - Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State: Dallas realized the deficiencies in Monte Kiffin's "Tampa Two" defense, so they replaced him with....Wait for it....Monte Kiffin...I mean Rod Marinelli, who's an even more stubborn version of Kiffin. With that said, if Dallas wants any chance to compete to compete in the NFC East they need to find their version of Warren Sapp at the "3-Technique." And while Timmy Jernigan is a bit undersized, he's not only quick, but he's strong against the run.

* Baltimore Ravens – Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan: Baltimore still seems to have some interest in re-signing free agent LT Eugene Monroe. While Monroe may price himself out of the Ravens plans, he hasn't graded out well enough over the past few seasons to justify a big contract, so Baltimore may want to start from scratch with a young LT that new offensive coordinator can develop in his zone blocking scheme.,0,7467608.story

18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: As of right now, the Jets are sticking with Antonio Cromartie at CB. Should that hold true following free agency and heading into the draft, it would free them to pursue a player at a position of need like WR or TE. The question remains as to whether or not one of the top three receivers will still be on the board when the Jets select at #18, and if not, whether the next best WR is worth a mid 1st Round selection. In this case, the top WR's are off the board, but the Jets can still get QB Gino Smith a legitimate receiving threat in North Carolina TE Eric Ebron.;

19. Miami Dolphins Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama: With Miami losing the entire left side of their offensive line due to the Ritchie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal and potentially needing two more linemen on the right side, the Dolphins have little choice but to address LT with their 1st Round pick.,0,6671297.story

20. Arizona Cardinals – Morgan Moses, T, Virginia: Arizona finally cut ties with Levi Brown, who had become a stopgap option at best at LT. With 2013 1st Round G Jonathan Cooper coming back from an injury that caused him to miss his entire rookie season, the Cardinals can substantially improve their offensive line this season by drafting a new blindside protector to pair with him.

21. Green Bay Packers - C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama: Green Bay has needs across the board on defense, and their first round selection will ultimately be determined by which of their own free agents they are able to re-sign. Finding a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball is a must. C.J. Mosley an ideal compliment across from Clay Mathews that the Packers are looking for at OLB. After striking out with several collegiate defensive ends that they've tried to convert to OLB in their 3-4 defense, the Packers can try to go the other direction and with an athletic linebacker who not only can pressure the passer opposite Clay Mathews, but drop into coverage and contain the edge as well.;;

22. Philadelphia Eagles - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: If Khalil Mack slips in the draft due to character and locker room issues, he would be an ideal fit for an Eagles defense that is in desperate need of an impact playmaker. WR could also be an option, but in this scenario that better value is in Mack.

23. Kansas City Chiefs - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State: The Chiefs could go in several different directions in this year's draft, whether it's S, CB, WR or TE. WR Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State is raw in terms of route running, blocking and discipline. However, his size and, athletic ability and production last year are down right frightening. The question that remains is whether Kansas City is ready to take another chance at a high risk/high reward player at WR in the first round after the Jonathan Baldwin debacle?;

24. Cincinnati Bengals - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: On paper, the Bengals look good at CB, but they are aging and injury prone. Leon Hall is coming off his second Achilles injury, and pro athletes aren't always lucky enough to even come back from one. Darqueze Dennard, the leader of Michigan State's top ranked defense, is a physical, lockdown CB who you can put on an island, which is a luxury/necessity as teams try to mimic the success of the Seattle Seahawks.

25. San Diego Chargers - Ra'Shede Hageman, DT/DE, Minnesota: With the versatility to excel at either DT in a 4-3 or DE in a 3-4, Ra'Shede Hageman could be the steal of the draft given the anonymity of the Golden Gopher's program. His presence opposite Corey Liuget in San Diego's 3-4 defense would give the Chargers a fearsome defensive line.

26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis) - Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State: This is not necessarily where I would go if I was Cleveland, but Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay and Tony Grossi all agree on the position, if not the player. CB also has to be a strong consideration as well.

27. New Orleans Saints - Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida: With a need a CB, the Saints will have a plethora of options. Of the second tier CB's after Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard, Loucheiz Purifoy has the biggest potential as a playmaker, which fits the the aggressive style of the Saints on defense.

28. Carolina Panthers - Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU: The Panthers need more explosion on offense, and Odell Beckham, Jr. of LSU would provide them just that paired opposite of veteran Steve Smith. Should Carolina elect to let Greg Hardy depart as a salary cap casualty instead of electing to use the franchise tag on him, DE could also be a consideration. The Panthers could also seek an eventual replacement for LT Jordan Gross, but he's still playing good football even at the age of 33.;; 

29. New England Patriots - Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville: New England has lacked an elite safety that can both cover and play downhill since Rodney Harrison retired. Calvin Pryor of Louisville is a little raw, but he's very coachable and could become the hybrid S that NFL teams are now beginning to covet in Bill Belichick's defense.

30. San Francisco 49ers - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: The 49ers biggest obstacle to returning to the Super Bowl is their division rival Seahawks. The best way to counteract Seattle's super sized secondary is with quickness, and that's where a playmaker at slot receiver would help counteract the Seahawk's size advantage.

31. Denver Broncos - Dee Ford, OLB/DE, Auburn: Denver very may well have cost themselves a Super Bowl last season when they botched the Elvis Dumervil contract extension last season, especially when coupled with the loss of Von Miller. While the Broncos can expect to get Miller back next season, they need another edge rusher to play opposite him, and Dee Ford of Auburn showed that ability by dominating the Senior Bowl. Help in the secondary will also be a consideration, but it looks as if star CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is willing to return with a team friendly contract.

32. Seattle Seahawks - Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee: The Seahawks have very few weaknesses after winning the Super Bowl. DE Michael Bennett and WR Golden Tate could elect to leave via free agency, but Seattle has plenty of salary cap space, and both players have exhibited an interest in returning. That leaves offensive line as the one area that the Seahawks can look to upgrade if their aren't any value bargains that the team can't afford to pass up.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Jim Caldwell has the right philosophy, but is he the right coach?

Much like the man himself, it's kind hard to get excited about the hire of Jim Caldwell as the new coach of the Detroit Lions.

In one respect, he's absolutely dead on on what the Lions need to do to become a contender. Stop turning the ball over, play disciplined football, and coach Mathew Stafford up within the confines of an innovative offense.

When Martin Mahew mentioned that Mathew Stafford needed to spend more time on film this offseason, I don't think this is quite what he had in mind.

I have little doubt about Caldwell as a leader of men and all that crap. After all, he has successfully managed a talented team that he inherited all the way to the Super Bowl.

But in another respect, the hire of Caldwell scares me more than seeing Scott Mitchell leaving the restroom at a Golden Coral. 

Scott Mitchell

Sure Caldwell's hires of Joe Lombardi and Tyrell Austin as his offensive and defensive coordinators scream potential, but nobody on this staff has any real experience as a play caller.

And while Jim Caldwell himself has not ruled out calling the offensive plays, lets face it, his track record as a play caller is not very good.

So where does that leave the 2014 Lions?

Wayne Fontz: The cocaine wasn't his...It was his son's.

We essentially have an experienced coach who promises to cut down on penalties and turnovers (and I believe him), with two coordinators who may or may not be over-matched when it comes to their new-found play calling duties.

Granted, I love the potential reward, but is this a franchise that really needs to take a risk on up and coming coordinators?

The Lions are a talented but undisciplined team. They don't need innovation from their coordinators. They need a winning structure within their offensive and defensive systems that they can simply plug their talent into. 

Instead, the Lions are gambling on two unproven coordinators like a college team that is trying to make up for a deficiency in talent with a gimmicky system, and that is NOT where the Lions are at right now.

Hell, even a re-tread play caller like Norv Turner could win with this team...Let's just hope that Caldwell and company can figure this out while the opportunity to win is still there. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Lust for Lions: Ezekiel "Ziggy Pop" Ansah emerges as a potential elite defensive end

After starting less than half of a season in college at BYU, the Lions drafted Ezekiel Ansah on potential after a strong week of practice and his dominant performance at the Senior Bowl.

Don't let Ezekiel Ansah's looks fool you...dude's a beast on the field.

So far, he's shown enough to earn the label as Detroit's new "Ziggy Pop."

Lust for Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, Detroit's new "Ziggy Pop!"
-A half sack in his first game?
Not bad.

-A sack and a forced fumble called back due to an unrelated penalty in his second game? 
That was bad luck.

-Seven tackles, two sacks and a tackle for a loss in his third game? 
Bad ass!

-Disappearing from the stat line in games four through eleven?
That was just bad.

-Four sacks in games eleven and twelve?
Now that was badly needed.

While he doesn't have much in the way of formal football training or coaching, what Ziggy Ansah does have is size, speed and an incredible knack for finding the football.

And after twelve regular season games, it looks like it's safe to say that Detroit has found a keeper with the #8 overall pick of the 2013 draft, which is big news for the Lions as they try to sure up their defense for 2014 through the draft.

The Lions, like any team, could still use another pass rusher. Fortunately, Ansah's development as an elite pass rusher can free up their first round pick to address other pressing needs, such as a lock down corner.

Not only would someone like Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard improve the Lions pass coverage, but he's someone who's demonstrated the ability to blitz from the slot, which is a skill-set that Detroit has sorely lacked. 

And if Ansah is the answer at defensive end that can afford them that luxury, the Lions just might be able to add a little more pop to their defense.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Decepticonned! Mathew Stafford's spike, Megatron help the Lions shock the Cowboys

Just when I thought that the curse of Bobby Carpenter had doomed the Lions to their second home defeat in two games with Sean Lee picking off two Mathew Stafford passes and nearly returning one of them for a touchdown, something happened.

I still don't know what it was, but something definitely happened. In fact, I heard myself asking out loud in disbelief, "How the Hell did THAT just happen?"

While Calvin Johnson had 329 receiving yards and one touchdown (nearly three), set the record for the most receiving yards in NFL history for a non-overtime game, he still arguably had his worst game as a Lion with a fumble and a dropped pass that deflected into the hands of a defender for a key interception.

The Lions had four turnovers, making them only the second team out of 55 in NFL history to overcome a minus four takeaway deficit.

The Lions slumping defensive line only managed to sack Tony Romo one time even though he holds on to the ball longer than an Ohio State fan holds on to a bitchin' pair of jean shorts from his college days at Northern Ohio University in "beautiful" Ada, Ohio.

But Mathew Stafford still had 50 seconds left on the clock to cover 80 yards to overcome a six point deficit and salvage the Lions day, and possibly their season.

Conceding defeat and attempting to get a jump on traffic, many of their fans had already left Ford Field. Included amongst those who did was Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva.

Sadly, that was the first time in a long time that Charlie managed to get out of his seat in what turned out to be a Detroit victory.

However, after completing two key long passes to Kris Durham and Calvin Johnson, Stafford improbably had the Lions at the 1-yard line with just under 20 seconds left in the game.

And somewhere between Megatron's final reception and the next snap, Stafford made the improbable decision to go "Sarah Palin."

As he instructed his teammates to line up to spike the ball and kill the clock, Stafford went rogue and ran a QB sneak that even his teammates didn't know was coming.

Along with Megatron's record breaking day, Mathew Stafford's "Decepticon" fake spike helped the Lions stun the Cowboys.

Fortunately it worked, as the Dallas defense was caught flat footed as Dez Bryant, Tony Romo and Jason Witten debated about who had the lowest Wonderlic score on the Cowboy sideline.

Meanwhile, Megatron ended any debate as to who the best receiver in the NFL is. But unlike Dez Bryant, he didn't even want to talk about it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Know the Rules, Schwartz!

Just before their infamous handshake in 2011, Jim Schwartz screamed "Know the rules, Harbaugh!" after 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for challenging a Brandon Pettigrew touchdown catch, which of course was not challengeable since all scoring plays are automatically reviewed.

Jim Schwartz has had his own problems when it comes to knowing the NFL Rules.

Earlier that season Schwartz was heard yelling, "Hey, learn the fucking rules!" at the officials when they conferred about whether Minnesota should be granted another possession after the Lions kicked a game winning field goal in overtime in light of the NFL's newly implemented rule which granted the receiving team an extra possession if the receiving team only kicked a field goal on their first drive.

Apparently Karma's a bitch.

On Thanksgiving day 2012 the entire nation watched the Lions lose to the Houston Texans 34-31 in overtime, largely because Schwartz prevented an automatic booth replay on a 81-yard Justin Forsett TD run after he was clearly tackled on his own 25-yard line because he improperly threw a challenge flag.

Then on Sunday, Schwartz failed to challenge an illegal forward lateral following a blocked field goal attempt that gave the Cincinnati Bengals an extra 15-yards, helping them score a touchdown just prior to the end of the first half.

After the game, Schwartz indicated that he wanted to challenge the lateral, but was told by an official that he could not because "that didn't matter on a blocked kick," so he decided not to...You know, because you should definitely ask the official who already botched the call his opinion about getting it corrected.

Schwartz justified his decision not to challenge the play by saying he didn't want to risk a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for throwing the flag on a play that was not challengeable. Here's the deal. The refs were wrong, and it's Schwartz's job to know the rules and use his challenges when the refs screw up.

Clearly the official was making reference to a forward batted fumble recovery on a return, while Schwartz was talking about the lateral. Had Schwartz been more confident in his understanding of the rules, he would have gone through with the challenge and possibly save the Lions four (if they held the Bengals to a FG) or even seven points in what turned out to be a three point loss.

Quite frankly, Schwartz arrogance about "knowing the rules" when botching them himself makes him look like an ass...Kind of like the guy on the Internet who calls somebody's post out thinking that he's the Grammar Police while making a spelling mistake of his own at the same time.

Worse yet, Schwartz has now cost the Lions two games over the course of two years in the process...And people in Philadelphia thought that Andy Reid was bad at managing his challenge flags.

Let's just hope that karma doesn't extend incomplete passes as well as the Lions try to hold Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys in check.


And for those of you who can't read lips he said, "INCOMPLETE YOU MOTHER FUCKER!"

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pro-Bowling for Lions

Even after a disappointing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals dropped the Detroit Lions to 4-3, they are still in position to not only make the playoffs, but to send one of their largest contingencies to the NFL Pro Bowl.

Helped by three of their newest additions (Reggie Bush, Larry Warford and Glover Quin), as well as the return of a key player from injury (Louis Delmas), the Lions could be in position to send up to seven players to Honolulu to get back in touch with their roots.

I know, I know...The NFL has revised the Pro Bowl this year, where players will be voted upon regardless of conference, with two fantasy football champions joining the "fun" to help draft the actual teams school yard style.

First of all, if your the most popular sport in America and your looking to Gary Bettman and the NHL for ways to improve your All-Star game, you've got more problems than can be solved with all of Ndamukong Suh's fine money for an entire season.

Secondly, I'm ignoring these format changes and pretending that the Pro Bowl is going to be played as it always has...In Hawaii, with actual soccer players kicking off the ball, and halves, not quarters, that end with two minute warnings and teams alternating possessions.

Did I mention that Roger Goodell can suck it? Anyway, here's a look at how the 2013 Detroit Lions might fare in a traditional Pro Bowl selection process.  

Quarterback - This is the year Mathew Stafford should not only finally make the Pro Bowl, but cement himself as one of the league's top quarterbacks. With three active roster spots, Drew Brees is a lock, while Tony Romo looks like the next best bet as of right now, but there's no telling if and when he'll suffer a melt down. That leaves Stafford fighting for the final active spot with Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, and right now Stafford is having the better season. At the very least Stafford should be a Pro Bowl alternative.

Receivers - Now that Titus Young is out of the league, Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in football.

In Nike's new "Calvin and Johnson" ad campaign, Sean Combs gets all of the notoriety, while Calvin Johnson does all of the work...At least Puff Daddy finally found a replacement for Biggie Smalls.

Running Back - With only three active roster spots, Reggie Bush is likely on the bubble. Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch look to return to Honolulu, while Bush, Matt Forte and Frank Gore are all fighting for the third and final spot. If he can stay healthy, Bush should be squarely in the mix.

Offensive Line - Don't look now, but Larry Warford might be positioning himself for Pro Bowl appearance as a rookie third round draft pick, If he wasn't already under consideration as an alternate or as the final reserve behind Mike Iupati and Jahri Evans before this week, his strong performance against Geno Atkins and Cincinnati's stout defensive line should grab some attention.

Defensive Line - Ndamukong Suh is the best interior defensive lineman in football. His statistics don't reflect the 3 interceptions that he caused by forcing opposing quarterbacks to throw the ball up for grabs for fear of having their body parts mailed to the NFL league offices c/o Roger Goodell and Merton Hanks. Unfortunately, the rest of the Lions ultra talented defensive line has underperformed, and what should have been at least two Pro Bowl players from their over-hyped line will likely be limited to only Suh.

Linebackers - DeAndre Levy's transformation from a liability to a play maker is one of the better success stories for the Lions this year. With Clay Mathews and DeMarcus Ware injured, and Aldon Smith trying to figure out whether he'll be spending his offseason in rehab or Federal prison, Levy deserves to be a Pro Bowl starter this year.    

Defensive Backs - Chris Houston is adequate, but hardly Pro Bowl material as evidenced by his rough game trying to cover Bengal receiver A.J. Green. With two interceptions and a fumble recovery already, Glover Quin deserves strong consideration at strong safety, while Louis Delmas is probably on the bubble to be a Pro Bowl alternate at the free safety position.

Special Teams - Sam Martin kicked his way out of Pro Bowl contention by shanking his final punt of the game against Cincinnati. Quite simply, you cannot go to the Pro Bowl as a soccer player when you are almost single handedly responsible for your team losing a game, no matter how big of a weapon you had been the rest of the season.


-Starters (3): Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh, DeAndre Levy
-Reserves (2): Larry Warford, Glover Quin
-Alternates (2): Mathew Stafford, Reggie Bush