It’s your favorite time of year. It’s time for bold predictions for the Lions for the 2016 season. I’ve been right four of the last five years in my bold predictions. The 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons showed Lions dominance. The injuries and refs took away wins but the game tape showed double digit wins in each of those seasons. Now we turn our attention to the 2016 season.
Stafford-101.7 QB rating
Stafford finished the last 8 games with a 110 QB rating with Jim Bob Cooter. Now I won’t be so bold to predict 110 for Stafford in 2016, I will say Stafford marks a 101.7 QB rating with 34 TDs and 10 interceptions. The Lions passing offense will open up with a plethora of weapons and less exotic looks out of fear of Calvin Johnson. The Lions run game will be a little more efficient with improved protection as well. This will allow the Lions to hit on more big plays with aid of a good QB, good OC and good weapons.
Stafford will notch 67% completion on 580 attempts with 34 TDS 10 interceptions and 4,400 yards (7.58 YPA). This is a slight tick up compared to his 97 rating 2015 season with 32 TDs 13 interceptions and 4,200 yards. We’ll take a look at the break down of yards and TDs in the weapons section.
Offensive Line-30 percent pressure and 36 sacks allowed
The offensive line is improved with talent and depth. However, there is still some inexperience with a rookie left tackle and second year left guard. Stafford will be pressured less in 2016 than 2015. Thirty percent pressure percentage and 36 sacks seem like good solid numbers compared to 35% and 44 sacks in 2015.
The Lions run game was poor at 3.8 YPC last season with very low carries (354). Detroit should have about 50 more carries in 2016 (400 carries total) and an uptick to 4.1 YPC on the season as a rushing unit.
Weapons Breakdown: 4,400 yards and 34 TDs
Golden Tate 900 yards and 7 TDs
Marvin Jones 800 yards and 8 TDs
Anquan Boldin 700 yards and 6 TDs
Theo Riddick 600 yards and 4 TDS
Eric Ebron 650 yards and 7 TDs
Ameer Abdullah 350 yards and 1 TD
TJ Jones 200 yards and 1 TD
Second TE, third/4th RBS/5th WR- 200 yards and 0 TDs
Yes, you read that right. The Lions don’t have a 1,000 yard receiver or a 10 TD WR/TE. And yet the Lions improve with Stafford having a 101.7 QB rating with 34 TDs and 10 interceptions. The Lions can spread the ball around to many good weapons and still improve on offense.
Run Game Breakdown-1,657 yards and 10 TDs at 4.1 YPC
Ameer Abdullah 170 carries at 4.2 YPC= 714 yards with 3 TDs
Steven Ridley/Zach Zenner 150 carries at 4.1 YPC=615 yards with 5 TDs
Theo Riddick 40 carries at 4.2 YPC=168 yards
Stafford 30 carries at 3.6 YPC=108 yards with 1 TD
WRs 6 carries at 8 YPC=48 yards
Burton 4 carries at 1 YPC= 4 yards with 1 TD
Total 400 carries=1,657 yards with 10 TDs at 4.1 YPC
The Lions run game improves to middle of the pack with 4.1 YPC and 10 TDs with the revamped offensive line and Cooter scheme.
Offensive Production-Top 7 Points Per Game at 26.4 PPG
Detroit was 18th scoring 22.4 PPG in 2015. The Lions will have a top 7 points per game offense in 2016 under Jim Bob Cooter scoring 26.4 PPG. Of course, there are injury caveats but the Lions are deep with offensive line and weaponry this season. Stafford missing more than two games would be a blow or concentrated weapon or offensive line injuries could wreck a great season. But the Lions, on paper with health, have a top 7 offense.
The Lions 26.4 PPG will come from 44 offensive TDs (34 passing and 10 rushing), 29 field goals made (from 33 attempts) and 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns. 423 points divided by 16 games is 26.4 points per game.
A healthy Lions team can have a potent offense even without a 1,000 yard receiver or 10 TD player. Calvin who?
Defensive Production- Top 10 PPG at 19.7 PPG allowed
Detroit will improve on defense in 2016 after allowing 25 PPG (23rd) in 2015. Detroit will allow only 19.7 PPG which will be 10th in the league. The eventual return of Levy and Tyrunn Walker, the health of Haloti Ngata, the second half performances (2015) of Nevin Lawson, Quandre Diggs and Tahir Whitehead are big factors. Rafael Bush over James Ihedgibo is another factor at strong safety. The addition of A’Shawn Robinson will bolster the DT depth. Slay is a shutdown corner and Glover Quin is a very good safety. Ziggy Ansah is a beast and Devin Taylor is a solid left end. Teryl Austin is a very good OC and will get the most out of this defensive talent.
The Lions notched 42 sacks in 2014 and 2015. The Lions have a small up-tick to 44 sacks in the 2016 season.
Ziggy Ansah-15 sacks
Devin Taylor-8 sacks
Haloti Ngata-4 sacks
Tyrunn Walker- 3 sacks
A’Shawn Robinson-2 sacks
Carraun Reid- 2 sacks
Wallace Gilberry-4 sacks
Blitzing LBs or DBs- 6 sacks
Other Defensive Stats- 3.9 YPC allowed and 88 QB rating allowed
The Lions will allow 3.9 YPC in rushing defense for a top 8 run D mark.
The Lions will increase their overall pressure and sacks which will help the Lions coverage unit. Detroit will allow an 88 QB rating for 14th in the league.
Turnovers (+9 turnover differential)
Detroit will force 27 turnovers (17 interceptions and 10 fumbles) on the season and allow 18 turnovers (10 interceptions and 8 fumbles) for a +9 turnover differential. This will be crucial for Detroit’s success as losses piled up when they turned the ball over in 2012, 2013 second half and 2015 first half.
The Lions will win 10 games or more this season with proper health and proper referee decisions. Final record prediction is 11-5 for Detroit.
This record will be good enough to win the division or earn a wild card berth for the beloved Lions. Detroit will go 4-2 in the division sweeping the Bears and splitting with Green Bay and Minnesota. Detroit will beat the Rams and Saints. Detroit will go 3-1 against the AFC South. Detroit will go 2-2 against the NFC East.
NFC North Standings- Lions win division or get wild card berth with 11 wins
11-5 Detroit (4-2 division, beat Rams, beat Saints, 3-1 AFC South, 2-2 NFC East)
11-5 Minnesota (4-2 division, lose to Carolina, lose to Arizona, 3-1 NFC East, 4-0 AFC South)
9-7 Green Bay (3-3 division, 2-2 NFC East, lose to Seattle, beat Atlanta, 3-1 AFC South)
7-9 Chicago (1-5 division, beat Tampa, beat San Fran, 2-2 NFC East, 2-2 AFC South)
The Lions will win at least one playoff game and maybe more this season as they finally host a much deserved playoff game.
There you have it folks. This is the most probable scenario for the 2016 season for the Detroit Lions and the NFC North barring major injuries and referee mistakes. I can’t wait to see these predictions come to fruition and avoid the injuries and referee curses from past seasons. Boombaya!