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How soon could the Detroit Lions be considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender?

According to ESPN, the answer is in four to five years.

ESPN polled 52 NFL insiders to vote on when each NFL team could realistically be a serious threat to win the title “based on personnel, trajectory, rebuild timelines and other related factors.” The results were broken down into seven time frames that ranged from current contenders to five-plus years out.

The Lions, who have never appeared in a Super Bowl, fell into the second-to-last category along with the Cardinals, Bills, Broncos, Giants, Buccaneers and Washington.

“This is where the Lions always seem to be, at least since Barry Sanders retired 20 years ago,” ESPN’s Michael Rothstein writes. “Detroit brought in Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn to accelerate the process, but if four to five years is the reality for a Super Bowl run, there's a good chance neither is around to see it.

“Progress must come this season, be it in an improved record or a playoff berth. If the roster works out like the current administration hopes, it is not unreasonable to think the Lions could be in contention in 2020 or 2021. But that four-to-five-year window appears more realistic.”

In the NFC North, the Packers and Vikings were both ranked a year away while the Bears are on the cusp of contending.

The Chiefs, Rams, Patriots and Saints topped the list as clear-cut contenders right now, with the Bengals bottoming out as the lone team voted at least five years away.

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