Lions No. 11 in Bleacher Report power rankings

The Detroit News

You’d be hard-pressed to find an analyst with high expectations this season for the Detroit Lions.

USA Today has the Lions headed for a 5-11 season. Las Vegas has them failing to reach .500. CBS Sports writes that it’s not out of the realm of possibility the Lions might be the NFL’s worst team.

Chris Simms of Bleacher Report, however, doesn’t appear to be buying the despair.

The former NFL quarterback — and son of former Giants quarterback and NFL broadcaster Phil Simms — has the Lions checking in at No. 11 in his preseason power rankings, released Monday.

No NFC North team is ranked higher, including the Green Bay Packers (No. 14).

Simms, who played for three teams in eight NFL seasons from 2003-2010, including his first five with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is quick to note that his rankings aren’t necessarily a prediction for 2017, but just how he views the NFL landscape today.

And, right now, Simms is calling the Lions “a team to watch,” after bolstering their offensive line in the offseason and making improvements though the NFL draft.

“Over the last three years, the Lions have been a two-man show,” Simms writes. “Quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin have kept the Lions afloat. They have pushed the team into the playoffs two of the last three seasons.

It shouldn’t be a two-man show in Detroit this season. The Lions added Ricky Wagner and T.J. Lang. This gives the team a legit offensive line, which is exciting. As long as Ameer Abdullah is healthy, this is going to be a much tougher offense to deal with.”

Simms also likes the addition of middle linebacker Jarrad Davis through the draft, calling the Florida product “more physically impressive than (Alabama’s) Reuben Foster, who many saw as a top-three talent.”