Lions: Dream/nightmare scenarios

Yes, the start of training camps is two months away, but it’s never too early to consider the coming season. A look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Detroit Lions in 2012.

Dream scenario (12-4): The team moves past its string of silly/immature problems, tightening up not only its off-field behavior but also its discipline on the field during games. Mikel Leshoure and Jahvid Best give the Lions a power/speed dimension in the backfield they lacked for most of last season. Rookie receiver Ryan Broyles' knee heals quickly enough to provide a legitimate fourth option among receivers and further spread out opposing defenses. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley realizes his playmaking potential and teams up with Ndamukong Suh to provide consistent and dominant interior play. Fairley, Suh, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch protect an undermanned secondary, and the Lions make big defensive plays against opponents that feel pressure to keep up with Detroit's offense.

Nightmare scenario (7-9): Best and Leshoure don't provide the balance the Lions hope for, either because of injuries or skill deterioration. Broyles takes longer than expected to return, Titus Young has a sophomore slump, and opponents flock to receiver Calvin Johnson. Left tackle Jeff Backus can't hold up for another season. Despite the formidable defensive line, the Lions can't cover for their secondary and give up too many big plays.