Mayhew ready for Lions to compete in NFC North

The Detroit Lions are ready to move out of the outhouse.

In fact, they’re aiming to take over the penthouse.

After showing signs of coming to life during a rebuilding process guided by general manager Martin Mayhew, he believes the perennial NFC North cellar dweller is ready to make a move. In fact, he doesn’t see any reason why his team can’t make a significant jump in the standings.

“I think we have shown improvement,” Mayhew said, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I think our talent level has definitely improved. I think our guys gained some confidence late last year. The goal for this team is to win our division. ... I think we showed last year we can match up and beat the teams in our division.”

The Lions are coming off a 6-10 season but quarterback Matthew Stafford missed more than half the year with a separated right shoulder. That’s why so much hinges on his ability to finally remain healthy. Bolstering hope in Motown is the fact that the Lions closed the season on a four-game winning streak.

They’ve got their first “Monday Night Football” appearance in a decade on Oct. 10 against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. They’ve shown they can win on the road – finally – under coach Jim Schwartz, who will be entering his third season.

“I think it gave our players some confidence to be able to beat some of our division opponents late in the season,” Mayhew said. “I view it sort of as a stepping stone for what's to come.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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