Brad Holmes: Lions aren't scared of high expectations

The Lions kick off the NFL season in less than a week and the team will be carrying some unfamiliar expectations with them into the game.

Last year's 9-8 record wasn't enough to get them into the playoffs, but their strong finish to the year and continued improvements to the roster have led to them being installed as the favorites to win the NFC North. The Lions haven't won a division title since 1993, so it's uncharted territory for everyone involved and that could be a major weight to bear.

General Manager Brad Holmes said that the team isn't feeling that weight, however. He said the Lions have "gone through a lot of darkness" to get to a place where they can compete at a top level and that confidence is "very high" about the team's chances for this season.

"We're not scared of the expectations," Holmes said, via Eric Woodyard of "The expectations are earned through, I think, what we've built and what we've done up until this point in terms of how we finished the end of the season and through our player acquisition process. But now we've got to just prove them right."

Thursday night will be the first chance to see how close the Lions are to meeting those expectations and a strong showing against the Chiefs won't do anything to slow down the hype train that's been barreling down the tracks since the end of last season.