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Lions 18th in ESPN's 'future power rankings'

The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions haven't won a playoff game since the 1991 season, and haven't won a division title since 1993.

The Lions' spot in ESPN's "future power rankings" posted Tuesday (pay site) suggest that won't change any time soon unless they provide more help for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is entering his 10th season with the Lions.

ESPN slots the Lions in at No. 18 in their future power rankings, which projects the next three seasons. And, while the "Worldwide Leader" takes into account a brand-new head coach (Matt Patricia) and a still relatively new general manager (Bob Quinn), protecting and helping Stafford appears to be the linchpin for the franchise's immediate hopes.

"The questions remain the same for me when it comes to the Lions," ESPN's Louis Riddick writes. "Do they have enough balance on offense to play a true complementary brand of football that will take pressure off Stafford, keep the defense off of the field more, and allow the team to adapt from week to week and do what it has to do to win games (The Patriot Way, anyone)?

"I like how they committed draft assets designed to improve the run game (second-round running back Kerryon Johnson in particular), and they need to make a difference. Immediately."

The Lions received an overall score of 76.4 (out of 100) from Riddick and fellow ESPN analysts Mike Sando and Field Yates, which was third out of four NFC North teams. The Stafford-led quarterback category was far and away the Lions' top score at 87.7, which ranked sixth among all 32 NFL teams.

"There might be some football followers who take Matthew Stafford for granted, but not here," Yates writes. "He's tremendous, and that is reflected in our confidence."

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Other categories scored include roster (73), coaching (74.3), draft (73.3), and front office (73.7). The Lions ranked anywhere from 22nd in the NFL to 27th in those categories.

"The Lions' front office and new coach aren't getting the benefit of the doubt in this analysis," Sando writes. "The outlook will improve if the Lions can demonstrate an ability to draft and develop players effectively. They need to get help for Stafford, and that is the most cost-effective way to do it."