The Detroit Lions are proof that there's at least a glimmer of truth behind the old axiom "Defense Wins Championships".
Or, the lesser known one, which goes, "the lack of a defense makes you the worst team in football, and people complain that you don't deserve to play on national television every Thanksgiving."
For three straight years, the Lions have had the worst-ranked defense in the NFL. They somehow squeezed out seven wins three years ago, but the past two years have resulted in a total of 2 wins.
A dark cloud has hovered over this franchise for years - but there may soon be a silver (and blue) lining.
As the centerpiece of the draft a year ago, Matthew Stafford showed some promise as the key cog to the Lions' offense. Detroit may have gotten themselves the defensive cog counterpart in Ndamukong Suh in the 2010 draft. Suh won't single-handedly lift the Lions out of the bottom of the league in defensive rankings, but he'll help.
There's a lot of roster turnover on the Lions, as new management tries to get rid of the stink their predecessors left on the organization. About the only thing the old regime got right was wide receiver Calvin Johnson (though I suppose if you keep drafting receivers you'll eventually strike gold), who will be a huge help to the development of Stafford. Stafford-to-Johnson could become one of the more dynamic tandems in the league.
They'll get help from a developing running game, where Jahvid Best was drafted to add to the running arsenal of Maurice Morris and Kevin Smith, who ended last season with a knee injury but should be back for the start of this season.
The Lions won't win many games this year. But finally, after years of sinking, they're going to be able to keep their heads above water. And after another year of good draft position, where because of better moves recently their needs are less, they might finally become a threat to get back into the postseason in a couple of years.
And then people might start looking forward to watching them on Thanksgiving.
2010 Prediction: 1-15, 4th place in NFC North