Lions' 2016 season preview, won't make playoffs

Lions' 2016 season preview, won't make playoffs
Posted at 10:08 AM, Sep 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-09 10:08:52-04

In honor of the late, great Joe Falls, it's a Fish Fry Friday. The Lions open the 2016 season on Sunday afternoon against the Colts in Indianapolis. And as usual, many Lions' fans have ignored the obvious warning signs and expect them to be good.

Don't buy it.

Vegas doesn't buy the Lions. An odds-maker has set their win total at 5.5 wins. And most NFL experts don't see the Lions - who were 7-9 last season - making the postseason for a second straight season.

Honestly, it's hard to argue.

It starts with the elephant in the room. It just doesn't seem possible to believe that quarterback Matthew Stafford will, somehow, become better without Calvin Johnson, who prematurely retired.

Most will try to convince you that Stafford won't be burden anymore with focusing the offense on Johnson. With him gone, Stafford will be able to spread the ball around, make the offense less predictable. Good luck with that.

No one is saying the Lions won't be able to score - although the first team offense struggled big time in the preseason.

New receiver Marvin Jones is a nice pickup from the Cincinnati Bengals. But without question, it's a downgrade from Johnson. Golden Tate is expected to be a bigger part of the offense as well.

Still, the offensive line is young and a problem. It looked awful in the preseason and wasn't able to protect Stafford. It's a major concern heading into the season.

No one is sure what the Lions' running game will look like, either. There are high hopes for second-year back Ameer Abdullah. But he's coming off an injury and put the ball on the floor too often in his rookie season.

TE Eric Ebron, who was hurt during training camp, is another player the Lions need production from. His first two seasons were just a work in progress, nothing special.

On defense, linebacker DeAndre Levy is the big question mark. How good will he be after an injury-filled season a year ago. The Lions need him back to his 2014 stats.

The Lions' schedule is tough to start the season. In the first four weeks, they have to travel to Indy, Green Bay and Chicago. Easily, the Lions could be 1-3 to start the season.

The Lions' home game in that tough opening stretch is Week 2 at Ford Field against the Tennessee Titans.

SEASON PREDICTION: The Lions will go 6-10, miss the playoffs again and coach Jim Caldwell will be sent packing.

PARKER'S PRO PICK: Colts 31, Lions 21

Tigers in Playoff Series
The end of the MLB season is still a little more than three weeks away, but it's do-or-die time this weekend.
The Tigers-Baltimore Orioles' three-game series at Comerica Park, starting tonight, is almost a playoff series.

Coming into the game, Baltimore - which has won four of its last six - owns a one-game lead over the Tigers for the final Wild Card playoff spot.

The Tigers - who are coming into the series after losing two straight games to the lowly White Sox in Chicago - can't afford to have a stinker of a weekend. Losing this series or all three games could be disastrous.
The O's took three of four in Baltimore in the first series between the two teams.

In Game 1, the Tigers have rookie sensation Michael Fulmer on the mound. That normally would be a good thing. But in his last three starts, Fulmer has given up 12 earned runs and lost all three of those starts.

In his only appearance against the O's, Fulmer got a no-decision in May, allowing four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings of work.

Kaepernick Protest Growing
On Thursday night, the NFL opened its season with Carolina at Denver. And while 49ers' QB Colin Kaepernick wasn't in the building, his presence was felt.

Broncos' linebacker Brandon Marshall joined in on Kaepernick's protest. Marshall took a knee for the national anthem.

Marshall said he thought about it for a few weeks before deciding to join Kaepernick, his former teammate at Nevada and frat brother.

"I thought about it all the way up until when the lady was going to start singing," Marshall told the media after Denver's 21-20 victory. "I was like, hmm, they're going to get on me. At the end of the day, I'm definitely good with my decision."

More NFL players could follow. Stay tuned.