The Lions had about as weird an ending to their season as the Packers did - perhaps even weirder. In a tight playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Lions were driving down the field in an attempt to put the game away. On 3rd-and-1, with just about 8 minutes left in the game, Matthew Stafford dropped back and threw a pass to TE Brandon Pettigrew. Anthony Hitchens, however, interfered; the ball fell to the ground, shortly followed by a flag. The referees, however, decided to pick the flag up, later arguing that it was face guarding (which is legal in the NFL) and not defensive pass interference. The Lions would go on to lose the game.
It was a disappointing loss to a strong season. The Lions went 11-5 on the year, coming in second place in the NFC North. To be honest, they did better than I thought they would - and that is a testament to how strong the defense was. Unfortunately, the defensive unit might be a bit more unstable heading into the next season than they were this last season. To emphasize this point, let's take a look at the upcoming free agents.
Free Agents (courtesy of NFL.com):
Unrestricted Free Agents: Ndamukong Suh, DT; Rob Sims, G; Nick Fairley, DT; Ashlee Palmer, OLB; C.J. Mosley, DT; Dominic Raiola, C; Dan Orlovsky, QB; Rashean Mathis, CB; Cassius Vaughn, CB; Darryl Tapp, DE; George Johnson, DE; Garrett Reynolds, OT; Matt Prater, K; Andre Fluellen, DT.
Restricted Free Agents: Kellen Moore, QB.
The big name on this list also indicates a huge area of need for the Lions this offseason: Ndamukong Suh. Suh is a free agent this year, in addition to Nick Fairly and C.J. Mosley, so the ferocious d-line that could serve as an anchor to Teryl Austin's defense is (potentially) falling apart. The Lions must hope that they can bring back at least two of them, and they really need to decide what they want to pay Suh. He is a great player, but will likely cost a lot of money.
In addition to the d-line, the Lions need to take a good look at the offensive line. C Dominic Raiola and LG Rob Sims are both free agents. The Lions do have Travis Swanson lurking in the background to take over the center position, but Rob Sims will likely need to be replaced as is; he had a rough start to the season. His resurgence in the second half of the season, however, may encourage the Lions to bring him back.
Look for the Lions to also shore up the CB depth. The unit was quite good last season, except at nickle. Additionally, Cassius Vaughn is a free agent. The Lions might want to bring in a bit more depth heading into the next season.