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Aidan Hutchinson says Lions are embracing 'well-deserved' hype: 'We understand what we got'

The Detroit Lions are picnicking in an unfamiliar place.

A franchise that's spent most of a generation banished to the basement of the NFC North has lofty expectations entering 2024. Detroit isn't only expected to compete for a repeat division title but also a deep postseason run, competing for its first-ever Super Bowl appearance.

"It's unreal. There's a lot of hype coming into this year, but I think it's well-deserved hype," defensive end Aidan Hutchinson . "I think a lot more guys on our team understand what this year is, and we understand what we got and we're all ready."

Last year, the Lions broke a 30-year drought by winning their first division title since 1993. It marked just the ninth time in franchise history -- dating back to 1930 -- Detroit won a division title. The last time the club won back-to-back divisions was 1953-54.

Before the past two seasons, the Lions were more likely to be out of the playoff race by Thanksgiving than in the postseason hunt. There were brief moments in the recent past when things looked bright -- an 11-5 finish in 2014 for a wild-card bid, for example -- but the light was quickly snuffed out.

Under coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes, the roster has been built to last, with key young contributors buffered by smart veteran additions and a coaching staff that maximizes the talent.

"I think everyone has put everything into this upcoming year, and I feel like for the years to come as well, because it's not our last year we're all playing," Hutchinson said. "There's a lot of great players on this team, and I think we could just have repeated success over the next few years."

Before Hutchinson & Co. can have repeated success over the next few years, the Lions need to extend their streak of playoff appearances to two, which they haven't done since the Wayne Fontes heyday of 1994-95.

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