At least one very knowledgeable prognosticator has the Detroit Lions ranked higher in his “Pre-Camp Power Rankings” than the Deadskins. Most people have not been paying attention to the Lions, figuring that they are the same old team that went 0-16 two years ago. Don’t buy it. They are much improved, and at least on offense will be able to play with anybody. Jahvid Best stats vs. Cleveland last Saturday: 1 carry, 51 yards, 1 catch, 10 yards (then he left the game after a three play touchdown drive). Fantasy footballers, do not be caught unawares.
24. Detroit Lions
Quietly the Lions have had a very good offseason — upgrading their defensive and offensive lines while adding some playmakers on offense to ease the burden on Calvin Johnson. They have the receivers to cause coverage units fits (Nate Burleson is inconsistent but the kind of threat, if healthy, to keep safeties honest), so it will be interesting to see what Matthew Stafford can do. He was horrible at times as a rookie so we can see it taking time for that consistency to come out. On the defensive side of the ball you worry about Chris Houston, who regressed last year, being the No. 1 corner but this is a team definitely moving in the right direction after years in the doldrums.
25. Washington Redskins
No doubt Donovan McNabb is an upgrade, but unless Trent Williams plays like the player he was drafted to be from day one, you wonder how McNabb will deal with the protection issues bound to be raised from a line trying to gel together. Jammal Brown shifting to the right side is an unknown, but a move that potentially suits him better than the left side. Mike Shanahan has a lot to do in getting this offense to work, which makes the switch to the 3-4 all the more confusing. The Redskins front seven was pretty good last year and they’ve arguably put their two best players (Albert Haynesworth and Andre Carter) into positions that don’t maximize their abilities. This looks like a recipe for disaster even if it gets more than the 39 total pressures that last season’s scheme got out of Brian Orakpo