Among the NFL wild-card playoff losers, ESPN's John Clayton ranks the Lions at third for best chance for returning to the postseason next season.
Seattle defeated Detroit 26-6 last weekend. Clayton ranks Oakland and the New York Giants ahead of Detroit. See the ranking here.
Of the Lions' chances, Clayton writes: "Matthew Stafford's finger injury illustrated how fragile the Lions' margin of error was. Including the playoffs, the Lions trailed in the fourth quarter of 16 of 17 games. Stafford bailed them out with eight fourth-quarter comebacks. After the injury, the Lions finished with a four-game losing streak and averaged only 14.3 points per game. For the season, the Lions gave up more points than they scored -- 22.4 points per game to 21.6."
GM Bob Quinn will have to beef up the defense, which could be a challenge if defensive coordinator Teryl Austin exits for a head coaching job elsewhere, Clayton writes.
The ESPN writer also notes that the Lions need to figure out a way to get a contract extension for Stafford, who is entering the last year of his deal.