It feels like decades ago that the Detroit Lions last made the playoffs during the Gus Frerrotte dynasty, before Matt Millen was ever hired. Yet it was not decades ago, it was 12 years ago, and for Lions fans those were 12 long, gruelling, painful years. Trust me, I know, I experienced it. 1999 was also the year that Barry Sanders retired, which was a punch in the face for the fan base. Does this 2011 team have a shot to win the Super Bowl? Sure, everybody who makes the playoffs has some probability of winning, but a team that struggles to run the ball and stop the run is at a disadvantage at playoff time. Calvin Johnson may be the best wide receiver in the league, but forgive me for lacking faith in Kevin Smith for getting it done at crunch time.
Matthew Stafford might be the best QB this team has had in my lifetime (and that isn't saying much, depending on where you value Scott Mitchell), and I'm happy to have him leading this team for years to come. He is a fierce competitor and this young team feeds on his energy. They have some playmakers on defense and a tackle in Ndamkong Suh that is a truly scary player to face. This might not be their year to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, but they will be competitive for years to come, depending what happens with Calvin Johnson's free agency in 2013. Hopefully Megatron will want to stay with the franchise he has helped build from an 0-16 team to a legitimate contender.