By BENJAMIN WILLIAMS, Staff Writer
Breaking the drought will take incredible skill, perseverance and a little bit of luck. All of Detroit’s three major sporting teams — the Lions, Tigers and Red Wings — have been enduring cold streaks that really make one wonder … When will we return to the promised land? Well let’s take a look at the chances for each of the teams during their next scheduled season.
Last season: After this past season, one thing is certain in the NFL. The Detroit Lions are not a team to be taken lightly, and as a Lions fan, all I can say is it’s about time. After starting the season 5-0, the Lions began a brief slide back to the basement, mostly due to the myriad of injuries to the team. Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson took their team’s fortunes into their own hands and combined for one of the greatest QB/WR pairings in the history of the NFL. After making the playoffs for the first time in a decade, the Lions did make it back to the post-season with a very respectful 10-6 record.
Next season: With a healthy Matt Stafford and the explosive presence of Calvin Johnson guaranteed for at least the next few years after signing his new multi-year contract, while also becoming the highest paid WR in the NFL, things look to be in great shape. Going into the draft the Lions needed to come away with a few quality players to fill the holes in the backfield, and that’s just what they did by drafting immediate starter Dwight Bentley in the third round out of Louisiana – Lafayette.
A surprise pick in round 2 will make Calvin Johnson’s job a little easier, thanks to the addition of WR Ryan Broyles out of Oklahoma. Broyles is expected to pair up with Titus Young and Nate Burleson to take some of the double coverage pressure that became a common play style for visiting coaches last season in an attempt to slow down “Megatron.”
Chance of winning a championship in 2012: I give the Lions a 65 percent chance of bringing home the title next year. Playing in such a jam-packed division, it would be hard to say that they will take the divisional crown, therefore playing once again from a wild card seed. The Lions will have a difficult task of pulling it all together and having the energy needed to maintain playing at a playoff-caliber level.
This season: Well, with the addition of Prince Fielder, many a Tigers fan believed that our fortunes have turned… But if our sub-par record thusfar is any indication of things to come, it may be a rough road ahead for the Tigers to sneak their way back into the post-season. With a bullpen led by veteran all-star Justin Verlander, who will be making what may be the most scheduled starts in his career, and lights-out closer Jose Valverde at 100 percent arm strength, paired with the automatic deep ball provided by Prince almost every time he takes to the plate, chances of a late-season resurgence are certainly possible, but they need to get it together soon.
Chance of winning a championship in 2012: A 35 percent chance at best. As much as I want to jump on the bandwagon and say that this is the year we bring it home, breaking the almost 30-year winless streak, the odds are just not favoring Detroit this season. With a division packed with some of the best players in baseball, and a schedule that favors visiting teams greatly and a road schedule that keeps the Tigers away from home for great stretches at a time, I just don’t think there will be enough gas in the tank to make it to the finish.
Detroit Red Wings
Last season: Detroit once again has been forced out of the playoffs with incredible ease by the Nashville Predators, who themselves are looking to become the perennial powerhouse in the Western Conference, a title that the Red Wings once held. The Red Wings showed flashes of brilliance this season with their forwards and defensemen playing synchronized hockey, and a goaltender in Jimmie Howard who when challenged stood tall in the crease and kept his team in a whole lot of close games. Injuries and a constant rotation of the starting line-up left a lot of players fatigued and dumbstruck at the same time.
Next season: The Red Wings need a great draft this year to bulk up their stock of studs to replace their aging defensive line. Pair that with an entire offseason for many of their players to recover and rest up, and the Red Wings could be a threat.
Chance of winning a championship in 2012-2013: 25 percent, reduced to even less if they cannot hold their own against teams in their own conference. It’s going to take Howard standing on his head, and high-priced forwards such as Dan Cleary and Pavel Datsyuk putting the puck into the back of the net at a higher rate than they have ever done in their career …
Who am I kidding? It’s rebuilding time in the Motor City.