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Detroit News sportswriters Bob Wojnowski, John Niyo and Justin Rogers take a look at the upcoming season for the Detroit Lions. Detroit News

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Rod Beard, James Hawkins, John Niyo and Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News offer their predictions for how the Detroit Lions will fare this season.

Rod Beard: After a 9-7 finish and another playoff flameout last year, the Lions will have an uphill climb to get back to the postseason. They’ll have a tough first half of the schedule — and if they can make it through that somewhere near .500, they’ll have a good shot for a strong finish. But waiting at the end of the road is a matchup versus Green Bay, which hasn’t turned out well in recent years. The offensive line and defensive front seven have plenty of questions — and depth continues to be a concern. Record: 6-10

James Hawkins: The Lions needed eight fourth-quarter comebacks to finish 9-7 last year. With this season’s schedule, they better hope they have some magic left over. The first eight games are tough sledding and it’s possible Detroit could still be searching for its first win by Week 5. And that’s before you even consider the swirling questions entering 2017. Will Ziggy Ansah return to his menacing form on the edge? Will Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick be able to stay healthy? Will Greg Robinson be able to revive his career and protect Matthew Stafford’s blind side? Couple that with the fact the team will be without Taylor Decker and Sam Martin, one of the league’s top punters, for some time and has likely lost Kerry Hyder for the year, it’s hard to envision anything but a third-place finish in the NFC North. Record: 7-9

John Niyo: They were a playoff team a year ago, even without getting much from some of their key playmakers. But the schedule looks considerably tougher this season, and the questions remain about just how much elite talent there is on this roster. The Lions insist they’ve got plenty. The results may say otherwise. Record: 8-8

Bob Wojnowski: The Lions probably won’t post eight comeback victories again — a league record — so they’d better establish their offense earlier in games, and that means running the ball effectively. And make no mistake, Matthew Stafford will have to be elite for the Lions to have a shot at a playoff return. Their defense doesn’t scare anyone. Their offense has the potential to be very good, and needs to show it very quickly. Record: 8-8

Click through the gallery below to view Justin Rogers’ game-by-game predictions for the Lions this season. (Go HERE if you have trouble viewing the gallery.)

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