The 2018 NFL Season is four months away and now is the time to be prognosticating on possible scenarios because the options are endless. The Lions as NFC North Champions in a division inhabited by the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings? A crazy prediction because of Aaron Rodgers, a Hall of Fame QB whose play hides gigantic holes on the team, especially on defense. A healthy Rodgers for 16 games gives the Packers a significant edge in their division and their conference, particularly because Green Bay used the draft and free agency to improve holes exposed by Brett Hundley's play this past season.

The Vikings stole headlines in the early part of the 2018 NFL Season with their 100 percent guaranteed three-year contract to Kirk Cousins. QB was not the problem last season when the Vikings appeared in the NFC Championship game and were blown out by eventual champion Philadelphia 38-7 as Case Keenum, now in Denver, had a career year. Underneath Rodger’s star power and high expectations in Minnesota are the Detroit Lions, a team quietly improved in areas through free agency and the draft, with a good chance to return to the playoffs this season, maybe as division champions.

We’ll find out early if the Lions are for real

Detroit opens the 2018 season, Week 1, at home against the New York Jets in the first of two games hosted on Monday Night Football.

The Lions are currently a six-point favorite as questions swirl around Jets’ training camp regarding who will be opening the season at QB. Will the Jets go with rookie Sam Darnold to begin the season or stick with veteran Josh McCown who led them to a surprising 5-11 record last season? How does Teddy Bridgewater fit? Week 2, the Lions travel to San Francisco in a game where pretenders are separated from contenders as the 49ers are the talk of the NFL with their newly signed $28 million-dollar man Jimmy Garoppolo.

Jimmy G dazzled Weeks 13-17 in 2017, boasts a 7-0 career record, and has the 49ers as contenders for the 2018 NFC West title. Week 4, the Lions return home to play the perennial AFC favorite New England Patriots.

The summer of our discontent could be the theme in New England as Tom Brady is absent from OTAs and steering down a road to be absent from training camp.

Week 4, the Lions will travel to Dallas, where all eyes are on Dak Prescott because the Cowboys do not own a fifth-year option on him because he was not a first-round draft pick. Hailed a savior a year ago after a dazzling rookie season, Prescott has pressure to perform because he plays for Dallas and wants to prove he's worth a new QB market-rate contract. Detroit opening the season 3-1 should not surprise anyone, yet the feat would be the talk of the early 2018 NFL Season.

Early bye week and showdown with the Packers

Week 5, the Lions will be at home to face division rival Green Bay in the first of their two games in the upcoming season. The Packers are one of the preseason favorites to win the division and represent the NFC in Superbowl LIII.

The Lions are going to have to beat Rodgers and the Packers, especially at home, to have a legitimate chance to win the division later in the season. Green Bay will be boasting rookie corners, Muhammad Wilkerson in the front four, and newly signed TE Jimmy Graham who's presence is expected to solve Green Bay's red zone woes. After their Week 6 bye, Detroit will travel to Miami to face a Dolphins team with many questions this season centering around QB Ryan Tannehill and his return from ACL injury. Week 8, the Lions will be at home against the Seattle Seahawks in a game I will be attending and taking photos labeled for reuse. Prognosticating the Lions record? Their sizzling start is still talk of the league.

Schedule toughens the next five weeks

The Lions will be on the on the road for their Week 9 division showdown against the Vikings. The Lions will be the surprise of the season, because Matthew Stafford is playing Pro Bowl football with the best three-receiver set in the NFL, and a running game improved to the point Lions are consistently putting games away in the fourth quarter with a four-point lead instead of driving late in the fourth quarter to tie or win the game. Stafford has 26 career fourth-quarter comebacks, tied for eleventh all time, and is tied with Atlanta QB Matt Ryan for fifth among active quarterbacks. Week 10, the Lions will travel to Chicago in the second back-to-back division road games.

The Bears and second-year QB Mitchell Trubisky are impossible to prognosticate, although I expect Chicago to sport a top-five defense in 2018. Week 11, the Lions will begin a three-game homestand, facing Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers Week 11, followed by the Bears Week 12 for the second time in three games. Week 13, one of the preseason title contenders, the Los Angeles Rams, will visit Detroit and complete three straight at home as the Lions prepare for a stretch run to the playoffs.

The load lightens, Detroit plays for the division

Week 14, the Lions travel to Arizona and face a Cardinals team, an unknown because there’s little clarity in late May who will be playing quarterback. Week 15, the Lions travel to Buffalo to face a Bills team nobody expects to be any good.

Week 16, the Lions will be at home against division favorite Minnesota, closing the season Week 17 on the frozen tundra, December 30, 2018, against Green Bay, in a game possibly impacting five playoff spots. In 2018, the Lions will be stingy on defense, especially against the pass. There are question marks at the linebacker positions, where rookie Jarrad Davis struggled in coverage last season, and whether or not the defensive line will generate enough pressure on the opposing quarterback. Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers has masked problems with Green Bay’s defense for years and Matthew Stafford's Pro Bowl play in 2018 will have a similar effect for the Lions this season. Detroit's real strength lies on defense, especially when DE Ziggy Ansah enjoys a fully healthy season and produces 16 sacks. The combination on offense and defense has the Lions grabbing one of six playoffs berths with a real chance to enter the 2018 NFL postseason competition as NFC North Champions.