Lions start strong, but what next?

The Detroit Lions are off to their best start since 1956, when they also started 5-1.

But two loses in a row, drop­ping the Lions to 5-2, have fans worried but still hopeful.

The Lions have been led by the outstanding play of wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who leads the NFL in touchdown receptions and is fifth in receiving yards and receptions.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford was sixth in the NFL in passing yards after six games and third in the league in touchdown passes with fifteen, compared to four in­terceptions.

On defense, linebacker De­Andre Levy is leading the team with 48 tackles, while defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch has four sacks. Vanden Bosch also leads the league with 3 forced fumbles.

Cornerback Chris Houston is tied for second in the league with 3 interceptions.

The Lions became the first team in NFL history to come back from a 20-point deficit in back-to-back games, which they did against Minnesota and Dallas. Detroit has also defeated Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Chicago, before losing to San Francisco and Atlanta.

While the Lions’ passing game has been one of the best in the NFL, the rushing game has left much to be desired.

Jahvid Best, the Lions’ sec­ond first round pick in 2010, has looked tentative at times when running between the tackles.

When Best was hitting the hole quickly instead of dancing behind the line, he has been fantastic. But that Best was only seen in the Monday night game against Chicago, where he ran for 163 yards and a touchdown. His next highest output of yards in a single game is an average 73.

The defensive line, which was supposed to be a huge strength for the Lions, is showing weakness.

Although the pass rush is argu­ably the best in the league, their defensive line has been very weak against the run.

Ndamukong Suh, the 2nd over­all pick in 2010, has been fantas­tic rushing the quarterback, as has Vanden Bosch, but offenses are learning to use Suh’s overaggres­sive style against him on the run, by allowing him to get penetra­tion and opening up a hole for the running back to run through.

The linebacking corps, led by DeAndre Levy, is much im­proved over last year.

The additions of Justin Durant and Stephen Tulloch have been huge, as Levy has been able to move to the outside and use his athleticism better. wTulloch has come up with plenty of big tack­les, especially on the goal line.

Detroit’s secondary has looked better than expected, although it was expected to be a weakness.

New arrival Eric Wright, a cornerback who played for the Cleveland Browns previously, has looked very good in cover­age.

Houston has also looked good in coverage, although he has been overly aggressive a couple of times.

Free safety Louis Delmas seems to have improved his cov­erage abilities as well, but is still plagued by the love of going for big hits at the wrong time.

The offensive line has been a huge weakness for the Lions. False start penalties are plaguing the line, and they are also strug­gling to hold blocks for any ex­tended period of time.

Left tackle Jeff Backus has been decent, along with left guard Rob Sims, but the right side of the line has been awful.

Right tackle Gosder Cherilus has been awful, and right guard Stephen Peterman is a below av­erage lineman. Center Dominic Raiola has been serviceable.

The Lions are attempting to make their first playoff appear­ance this century this season, and are well on their way to making that goal.

But the schedule gets more dif­ficult throughout the year, with the Lions playing the currently undefeated and defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Pack­ers on Thanksgiving and the final game of the season.

The Lions finally will play a relevant Thanksgiving game this season.