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Lions quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell is aware that no one thinks his team is going to be any good this year. And he’s OK with that, because he’s been on another team that greatly exceeded its low expectations.

That team was the 1996 Jaguars, an expansion team in only its second year of existence that made it to the AFC Championship Game.

“I was part of a team that very few people gave us a chance to do anything,” Brunell said, via the Detroit News. “Going into 1996, the expectations were really low. All we heard was, ‘Maybe get to .500, maybe win five or six games, a lot of inexperience, a lot of lack of talent’ and this and that. We actually started out that season and the first 11 games we were 4-7, and then we turned it around.

“My point in saying all that is we were a team that people didn’t give much of a chance to do anything. It kind of sounds familiar doesn’t it? My point is that it can happen. We believe it’s going to happen, and there’s something about being part of a football team where everyone outside the building says that you can’t and the message inside the building is, ‘You know what? Forget about what you’re hearing or what people are saying. You have to believe that you can.’ Certainly this is going to be a group that is going to believe that we can, that we can do some good things early, regardless of what’s being said out there, outside of the Detroit Lions.”

It would be very surprising if the Lions made the playoffs at all, let alone the conference championship game. Brunell thinks he’s with a team that is going to surprise people.