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TWENTYMAN: 5 numbers to keep up

Last week we looked at five numbers that need to change for the Lions to play more consistent, winning football in 2020.

Despite winning just three games a year ago, it wasn't all bad for the Lions in 2019. They didn't win as many games as they might have liked, but there were some positives.

Here's a look at five numbers that need to stay the same or continue to improve to help the Lions take the next step in 2020 and play meaningful games late into the season:

1. Number: 106.0

What it means: Quarterback Matthew Stafford's passing rating in the eight games

NFL rank: 5th

Twentyman: Stafford was playing some of the best football of his career under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell before missing the second half of the season due to a back injury.

Stafford had 19 touchdowns vs. just five interceptions in eight games, and was second in the NFL behind only Aaron Rodgers (24) with 23 completions of 25-plus yards.

Stafford's passer rating through the first half of the season trailed only Russell Wilson (118.2), Patrick Mahomes (113.1), Kirk Cousins (112.0) and Deshaun Watson (107.1).

2. Number: 3.6

What it means: Percentage of drops on catchable passes

NFL rank: 4th

Twentyman: Detroit pass catchers dropped just 13 balls all season. One of the real attributes for Detroit's top three receivers – Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola – is their ability to make difficult catches and catches in a crowd.

Only Atlanta (1.5 percent), Los Angeles Rams (2.5) and Arizona (3.5) pass catchers had a lower drop percentage than the Lions last season.

3. Number: 4.5

What it means: Opponent average yards per punt return

NFL rank: 2nd

Twentyman: Detroit's special teams coverage units were pretty consistent all season, but they were really good when it came to limiting the opponent punt-return game. The longest punt return allowed by the Lions all season was just 17 yards.

Miles Killebrew finished second in the NFL with 15 special teams tackles. Jalen Reeves-Maybin was fifth with 13. Dee Virgin finished in the top 22 with 10 tackles on special teams. New special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs is inheriting some nice players on special teams in the coverage, return and kicking games.

4. Number: 60 & 675

What it means: The Lions were the only team in the NFL last year to have three receivers catch at least 60 passes for at least 675 yards

NFL rank: 1st

Twentyman: It was the first time in franchise history three different receivers accomplished this feat. The good thing for the offense heading into 2020 is that all three receivers – Golladay, Jones and Amendola – are back and now have a year under their belts in Bevell's system.

Golladay has emerged as one of the best young receivers in the game after catching 65 passes for 1,190 yards and a league-leading 11 touchdowns last year. Jones caught 62 passes for 779 yards and nine scores in 13 games. Amendola, in his first year in Detroit last year, caught 62 balls for 678 yards and a touchdown. These three receivers had this kind of production playing only eight games with Stafford and with three different quarterbacks total throughout the season.

The Lions have used significant resources this offseason to improve their rushing offense. If that part of the offense can improve, with the production they already have at the receiver position, this offense has a chance to be pretty good if they can stay healthy.

5. Number: 16

What it means: Total number of fumbles forced by Detroit in 2019

NFL rank: 8th

Twentyman: Since taking over Detroit's head coaching duties two seasons ago, Matt Patricia has dedicated significant practice time to teaching the techniques that help knock the ball loose from ball carriers.

The Lions had 11 different players force a fumble last season, led by cornerback Justin Coleman and linebacker Jarrad Davis with three apiece. Both Detroit's forced fumbles and fumble recoveries (11) ranked in the top eight in the league.

Turnovers are typically the No. 1 statistic in football that helps determines wins and losses. If the Lions can improve on their seven interceptions from a year ago (ranked last in the league), and they can continue to rank among the league's best at forcing and recovering fumbles, Detroit should see an uptick in turnover differential in 2020.

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