2011 NFL Preseason Schedule: Jahvid Best Breakout Is Key to Lions’ Playoff Push

If the Detroit Lions played in the NFC West, they may just be division favorites.  Detroit is a super sleeper this year to make the playoffs.  Yeah, it’s unlikely, but if Jahvid Best breaks out, than their chances skyrocket.

First off, their defense should finally be respectable this season.  They added Stephen Tulloch, Nick Fairley, Justin Durant and Eric Wright who should all be major upgrades.  It will be improved, but not talented enough to shut down opposing offenses.

And that’s where the Lions loaded passing attack comes in.  After drafting bust after bust at the wide receiver position, they finally have a stacked receiving corps with Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Titus Young, Tony Scheffler, Nate Burleson and Bryant Young.  When healthy, Matt Stafford is one of the best passers in the league and will put up big numbers.

As good as Detroit’s passing game can be, their offense can’t afford to become one dimensional.  They selected running back Mikel Leshoure in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, but he’s out for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon.  That means the workload will be put on Jahvid Best’s shoulders.

Best is explosive in the open field, but last season he averaged just 3.2 yards a carry.  He has the speed to be Jamaal Charles Jr., but right now he has a long way to go to get to that point.  Best is a skilled dual-threat that can hurt defenses as a receiver out of the backfield.

He recorded over 1,000 yards from scrimmage last season and nearly half of those were receiving yards.  Against the Philadelphia Eagles week two last season, Best showed just how much potential he has rushing for 78 yards and two touchdowns as well as catching nine passes for 154 yards along with another end zone visit.  If Best can become a 1,000 rusher in his second year in the league, it would take the Lions’ offense to an elite level.

- David Daniels

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