Detroit News predictions: How the Lions will finish in 2019

The Detroit News

Justin Rogers, James Hawkins, John Niyo and Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News predict how the Lions will finish in 2019.

Matt Patricia

►Justin Rogers: Season predictions are difficult, because the variables change so much. But you can get a sense for the direction a team is moving and how that might play out. There's something about the quiet confidence and calm over this offseason that wasn't here a year ago, and the personnel is certainly better, especially on defense. It's always bold to predict a big swing in a team's record, but I have the rare feeling this Lions team might be sneaky good, especially if it can survive the brutal start to the schedule. Record: 10-6

►James Hawkins: Detroit will take a step forward on both sides of the ball thanks to several additions. Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will boost the Lions’ ground game, led by second-year back Kerryon Johnson. Defensive linemen Mike Daniels and Trey Flowers will help put more stress on opposing quarterbacks and less on Detroit’s secondary. And with more quality depth than a year ago, the Lions will be able to pull out a couple more of their close contests. Record: 8-8

►John Niyo: We'll find out pretty quickly if the Lions' offensive line is up to the challenge. If it's not, all bets are off. But if it is -- and the front-office investment there all but demands it – then this team should be ready to contend for a playoff berth again. Because that defensive front has the talent – and depth – to control the line of scrimmage, force more turnovers and ultimately allow Darrell Bevell a chance to call the kind of game he wants on offense. A .500 start before the bye is imperative, though, and it'll take a winning record in the division to have a shot at the postseason. I'm not sure they can pull off the latter given the strength of the NFC North. Record: 9-7

►Bob Wojnowski: The Lions are better than last year’s 6-10, I’m fairly certain of that. They have Snacks Harrison for a full season on a punishing defensive line, and added Trey Flowers and Mike Daniels. You figured Matt Patricia would build a solid defense, and now must show he can fill out a roster and a coaching staff. This is the Latest Best Shot for Matthew Stafford under new coordinator Darrell Bevell, who will turn a chunk of the offense over to Kerryon Johnson. The offensive line is the key. If Frank Ragnow keeps developing and everyone stays healthy, a winning record is possible. The margin for error, though, is low. Record: 8-8