5-9, 4th NFC North
Darius Slay - Darius Slay is one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, and has turned into one of the shutdown corners as well. Dealing with concussions to start the season is a big blow when considering their depth at the position overall. Slay will likely return early on in the season, but in a very tough NFC, you can’t slip up on some games. They also have some stronger passing games coming into town, and Slay’s presence will certainly be missed.
Ezekiel Ansah - Ezekiel Ansah is coming off a 12 sack season, which was almost on par with his 2015 season. Ansah is an edge rusher that can help generate some pressure, and missing him will be a huge loss for the first few weeks of the season. Much like Slay, Ansah’s presence will be missed, and on a defense that needs these guys it could get ugly without them. You are looking at some good teams for Detroit to face within the first few weeks of the season, and it could get ugly quick.
T.J. Lang - Detroit’s front five is already very thin, and T.J. Lang’s absence the first few weeks of the season is going to be huge. The run game has already been criticized, and the talent they have isn’t good enough to get by with a subpar offensive line. Kenny Wiggins is likely going to be the guy who draws the start, which isn’t a comfortable outlook for the first few weeks of the season. It is a back issue that is hindering Lang, and still not practicing, Lang is set to miss the first few weeks of the season for sure. He suffered a foot injury late last year, and now hitting the age of 30, Lang might be more injury prone.