Every week during the season I plan to answer 10 good questions I receive throughout the week from my Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman", which is sponsored by Huntington Bank.
Here we go with this week's 10.
Biggest question mark on the Lions team going into the season opener? Ali Hojeij (@Ali_Hojeij1)
20man: For me, it's still the offensive line. There are three new starters upfront with a combined one start between them (
The group gets a good test Week 1 against a Vikings defense that finished in the top five last year with 44 sacks. Their top three defensive ends of Jared Allen (12), Brian Robinson (8.5) and Everson Griffen (8) combined for 28.5 sacks alone.
The offensive line kept quarterback
While the Vikings were very good at getting to the quarterback last year, they were only the 22nd ranked rushing defense in the league. That's also something I'll be looking for. Can they open some running lanes for
The Lions averaged just 3.8 yards per rush in the preseason, so we'll also get a gauge at how much improved they'll be as a run-blocking unit.
We'll find out Week 1 what that unit is made of.
What will be the greatest improvement area in the Lions this year? Lee (@IamMeast)
20man: Let's be honest, the Lions were dreadful in the backend of their defense last year. Their secondary let them down time and time again at the end of close games.
The Lions allowed 13 passing plays of 40-plus yards last year. Only the New Orleans Saints allowed more (14).
Pair him with
After all 4 preseason games, is there any concern over lack of production by the first team #Lions offense? Seems disheartening. Michael Cook (@Lions_fan_mikey)
20man: In my opinion, this is one of the more overblown storylines of the preseason. Do you want your starters on offense to march up and down the field in the preseason and score? Sure you do. But we can't forget this is the PRESEASON.
I always think back to 2008 when the Lions went 4-0 in the preseason and then 0-16 in the regular season. If that wasn't the universal example of why preseason performances should be taken with a grain of salt, I don't know what is.
If Johnson had played all preseason and the starters had scored just one touchdown, then I'd be worried.
The Vikings averaged less than 100 yards per game rushing in the preseason and had only two rushing touchdowns. Adrian Peterson didn't have a carry. Is anyone in Minnesota worried about the Vikings rushing attack?
What three game stretch do you believe will be the most difficult and decided part of the upcoming season? Ronbiss (@ronbissel)
20man: It's easy to say Baltimore (Monday night), New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings to end the season, but the three-game stretch at Washington, vs. Chicago and at Green Bay the third, fourth and fifth weeks of the season are more crucial, in my opinion.
If the Lions don't get off to a good start, those games at the end of the season might not matter.
With all the changes on the O line, are we better off this year than years past? Anthony F (@Nails10710)
20man: That's really yet to be determined. As I said above, this Week 1 matchup vs. Minnesota is going to tell us a lot about this revamped offensive line.
I will say this though, the 2013 version of the offensive line should certainly be more athletic than the 2012 version. Reiff and
Tim, just about every dominant defense has elite linebackers. Are you concerned about the lion's unit? Steve Blake (@steve_blake35)
20man: There is always going to be an area of the football team that's weaker than some others. The NFL salary cap doesn't allow a team to be strong everywhere. Teams have to pick and choose. For years, the Lions have neglected their secondary. They addressed that this offseason. When I look at the defense I see the linebacker unit as a solid group, but not spectacular.
Ansah going to be healthy by Sunday? How much is he expected to play? Nate Thompson (@nate_thomps)
20man: There was certainly good news on that front Thursday, Nate. Ansah returned to the practice field for the first time since suffering a concussion Aug. 24.
The real test for whether Ansah plays Sunday will be Friday's practice. I suspect he'll be listed as a limited participant when Thursday's injury report comes out. Players are usually eased back into practice after extended periods of time off due to injury.
If Ansah is listed as a full participant on Friday's injury report, I'm guessing there will be a designation of probable next to his name.
If he practices in full Friday, expect him to start Sunday vs. Minnesota.
Can the Lions Defensive front hold @AdrianPeterson under 100 yards? What will it take? Brian Sayers (@RedBarnPastor)
20man: It will take all 11 guys to start with.
Sunday will really be a nice test for this revamped defensive line. The Lions wanted to get bigger and more athletic upfront to help them stand up better to the run. Well, here's the best test the NFL can provide.
In 89 career games, Peterson has been held under 100 yards 52 times (58 percent). In 11 career games vs. the Lions, Peterson has rushed for more than 100 yards seven times (64 percent).
He had 102 yards and 171 yards, respectively, in both games against Detroit last year.
The odds don't look good.
Who steps up as secondary target for Stafford? Pete (@Petey_Poppers)
20man: There are certainly a lot of options.
Bush's value to this offense is that Stafford should no longer feel that he has to force the ball down the field and fit it into tight windows. In Bush, he has a check down option that can turn a small pass into a big one.
I'd be shocked if Stafford's 17 interceptions didn't drop considerably this year.
Pettigrew, Burleson, Edwards and Broyles will all make plays in the passing game, but Bush could have 80-plus catches if he plays all 16 games.
If the Lions shut down AP and contain Allen, do they win? Shane Fuller (@OAOFullerS)
20man: Oh Shane, how quickly you've forgotten last year's Vikings game in Detroit.
The Lions lost 20-13 and did a decent good job of containing Peterson (102 and no touchdowns) and Allen (just one sack).
Unfortunately, they gave up a 105-yard kickoff return touchdown and a 77-yard punt return touchdown, which was the difference in that game.
It's why "all three phases of the game" is such a big part of a coach's terminology. It only takes one phase of the game to lose an NFL game.
But, to answer your question, the odds certainly go up significantly if Peterson and Allen have pedestrian outings on Sunday.