By Clark Judge

One year after reaching the playoffs, the Detroit Lions last year reversed direction and finished last in the NFC North — with injuries, mistakes and a shortage of defense hastening their descent. The Lions have the franchise quarterback and wide receiver needed to get off the mat, but that’s not enough … and they keep proving it. Detroit has talent, but read the fine print, people: Since starting 5-0 in 2011, they’re 9-19, including the 2011 playoffs.

1. Overall outlook: The Lions are in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, and that will make it tough to get back in the game overnight. Only they were one of the NFC’s playoff teams one year earlier, so they’re not that far away. In Matthew Stafford, they have the star quarterback, and in Calvin Johnson they have the best wide receiver in football. But they need more, and I’d start with a running back. Since Jahvid Best bowed out in the sixth game of the ’11 season, the Lions have struggled. They can’t run. They can’t play defense. And they can’t win. Until or unless they find a running back to slow down the game and give their porous defense a rest, they’re destined to play catch-up with the rest of the division.

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