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TWENTYMAN: 5 numbers to keep up

On Monday we took a look at five numbers from last season the Lions need to improve if they want to take the next step and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. It's only fair to also take a look at five numbers that helped Detroit win 12 games last season, earn the NFC North title and play their way to the NFC Championship Game.

Can they keep these numbers up this year?

1. Number: 88.8

What it means: Opponent average rushing yards per game

NFL rank: 2nd

Twentyman: Detroit's defense was terrific stopping the run last year. The Lions allowed at least 100 rushing yards in only five games, which led the NFL and ranked second in franchise history.

Detroit's defense allowed 36 rushes of 10-plus yards, good for the third lowest mark in the league. The five runs of 20-plus yards they allowed ranked second. Only 42.1 percent of opponents' first-down runs gained at least four yards, which means teams played behind the sticks a lot.

Stopping the run and forcing teams to be one-dimensional is a recipe for success in this league, especially considering the Lions expect to be much better against the pass with the additions they made in the secondary and along the defensive line this offseason.

View some of the best photos from Detroit Lions offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp.

2. Number: 31

What it means: The number of sacks allowed by the offense.

NFL rank: T-4th

Twentyman: Detroit's offensive line is the No. 1 strength of this team, and this is a category where they get to show off a little bit. Only Green Bay (30), Kansas City (28) and Buffalo (24) allowed fewer sacks than Detroit last season.

This statistic also includes the tight ends, running backs and wide receivers, and quarterback Jared Goff's timing and movement in the pocket. It all works together to allow the passing game to be one of the most dangerous units in the NFL – Detroit's 258.9 average passing yards per game ranked second – and for Goff to be sacked on just 4.8 percent of his 646 dropbacks.

3. Numbers: 850 & 10

What it means: Detroit had four players reach at least 850 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns

NFL rank: 1st

Twentyman: Not only was that tops in the NFL last season, but it's also the first time in league history a quartet of players reached those marks in the same season. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown had 1,539 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns, followed by running back Jahmyr Gibbs (1,261, 11), running back David Montgomery (1,132, 13) and tight end Sam LaPorta (893, 10).

To have four different options that can provide that kind of production is rare and part of the reason why Detroit ranked top five in both rushing and receiving last season and is considered one of the most versatile and explosive offenses in the NFL today.

4. Number: 23.7

What it means: Opponent average starting field position

NFL rank: 1st

Twentyman: I include this number because the importance gets magnified considerably this season with the new kickoff rules in place to encourage returns. The fact that head coach Dan Campbell and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp schemed for teams to return kicks and emphasized covering them under the old rules should bode well as the league transitions to returns on just about every kick this season.

The Lions forced opponents to start drives inside their own 20-yard line the second most times among all 32 teams last season, second only to Green Bay. Detroit didn't allow a single kickoff return to start in their own territory across the 50. Detroit plans to make covering kickoffs a weapon for them this year and they have a great base of production to work from.

5. Number: 85

What it means: The number of 20-plus yard plays recorded by Detroit's offense

NFL rank: 2nd

Twentyman: Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has put the big play back in Detroit's offense. Only San Francisco (86) recorded more 20-plus yard gains than the Lions last season. The Lions' 241 plays of 10-plus yards ranked third in the NFL.

Detroit had 16 big-play touchdowns of 20-plus yards last season, which were second only to Miami's 19. The Lions scored 126 points outside the red zone, which was fifth best in the league. The ability to get big plays at a high clip and score anywhere on the field leaves a defense always on edge.

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