No NFL player affects how opponents play defense more than Calvin Johnson. Megatron dealt with knee and ankle injuries all season long, causing him to miss two games and be severely limited in two others, and still finished with nearly 1,500 receiving yards and had 12 touchdowns. Johnson was the only down-the-field threat the Lions had at the receiver position. His 326 yards against Dallas was one of the single-best performances in NFL history.
Mike: Calvin Johnson, WR
Johnson in a landslide. The offense was so different when he played compared to when he didn't. Without Megatron, the Lions scored 9 points against the Packers and 13 against the Vikings. And neither team had a world-beating defense.
Mike: Ndamukong Suh, DT
His third Pro Bowl and first-team All Pro for the second time says a lot. He got votes from people who supposedly don't like him -- players who vote for the Pro Bowl and media who vote for All-Pro. That means he's respected.
Warford struggled early on in training camp as he tried to acclimate to the NFL game. Once he made the adjustment, however, his game took off. He became one of the most consistent performers week-in and week-out for the Lions and looks like he’ll be the right guard for the next decade. Warford was the best rookie guard in the league this year and turned out to be an absolute steal in the third round.
Can I say going 1-6 down the stretch to blow the NFC North title? If not, it's LaAdrian Waddle, an undrafted rookie who became the starter at offensive right tackle. No one predicted that.
The Lions gave Houston a five-year, $25 million contract last offseason and the veteran cornerback didn’t live up to those numbers this season. He was inconsistent and gave up some huge completions at inopportune times.
Mike: Chris Houston, CB
Can I harp on the 1-6 finish again? No? Then it's Chris Houston. He played without confidence all year. After re-signing, he should have been average at worst. He was far below that.
Most significant injury
The Lions had big plans for Jones as an edge rusher and inside penetrator, but he was lost to a ruptured patellar tendon in Week 3 vs. Washington. The injury forced
Double jeopardy for Ryan Broyles -- the knee injury at the end of 2012 compounded by the Achilles injury that KO'd him early this year. The Lions may never find out now if he could have been a solid slot receiver.
Reiff played most of his rookie season in 2012 as an extra tight end in the team’s jumbo packages. He made just one start at left tackle as a rookie filling in for the injured Jeff Backus. Reiff entered this season with the responsibility to protect quarterback
Proving that an old dog can learn new tricks, my vote is for Dominic Raiola. His 13th season was his best and came when it was a coin flip in the offseason whether he'd be the starting center. He has a couple years left.
Mike: Glover Quin, S
As a player, it's Glover Quin. He was steady all year. Honorable mention goes to C.J.Mosley. A No. 3 defensive tackle couldn't have been asked to do more in his role. If a coach can win this title, Jeremiah Washburn gets it for what he did with three new starters. That unit had gotten stale. Now it's set for a few years.
The future looks bright for
Tim: Ziggy Ansah, DE
There were some question marks regarding Ansah when the Lions took him No. 5 overall in the draft last year, but Ansah calmed any nerves with his play. The athletic defensive end led all rookies with eight sacks. He’s going to be a force coming off the edge for years to come.
Mike: Ziggy Ansah, DE
Right on with Ziggy. Strong, athletic, smart. He gets to the passer and pursues the run like an outside linebacker.
Top offseason need
Tim: Wide receiver
Calvin Johnson needs someone who can help take the pressure off him on the outside part of the field. Matthew Stafford needs another weapon on the outside. This offense needs a player who wins one-on-one matchups and can reach 1,000 receiving yards if defenses play the Lions the way they currently do.
Mike: Wide receiver
Receiver first, and receiver second. As good as Calvin Johnson is, he takes too much abuse because of the lack of any other pass-catching threat. It won't be a surprise if two fresh faces are in prominent roles at wide receiver next season, not just one.