Don't look now, but the Detroit Lions could make some real noise this season! We are used to seeing the Lions get beat up week after week. But this year is different. The Lions actually look like they belong on the field with the teams they have played. The lowly Lions have been tenacious and kept their hopes of winning alive to the very end of nearly every game.
I know that the naysayers will come out of the woodwork and have plenty of bad things to say about the Lions. Sure, there are some things that can improve. But every team in the NFL has things that can improve. Especially in places like Dallas and Minnesota where visions of Super Bowls were dancing in their heads.
I predicted five or six wins before the season started. Not just because that made sense, with the schedule the Lions play. But because the Lions need one more good off-season to solidify the defense. It would be ideal for the Leos to draft between picks six and ten in the next draft in order to get another impact player without breaking the bank.
The win against Washington was the first step toward getting those five or six wins for this season, but is that the ceiling for the Lions? I don't think so. I think the Lions have the potential to really surprise us this season.
The next game against the Jets is a potential watershed moment for the Lions. If they can put up a win in Ford Field against the Sanchise and his merry band, the Lions will be in position to do something nearly unheard of in these parts, make the playoffs.
OK, I can see many of you picking up your jaw from the floor, but I am serious. The Lions are actually in a position to contend for a playoff spot. Minnesota has tanked; Chicago and Green Bay are beatable teams. The Lions could win the NFC North, or be in a position for a wild card berth, with ten wins.
Take a look at the remaining schedule. Many of the games that we thought would be losses are suddenly not so certain. All of the remaining road games are winnable. Buffalo is a bad team, Dallas is Romo-less, Tampa Bay has a lot of holes, and Miami can't win at home.
The Lions also play all of their division rivals in Ford Field down the stretch. That gives them a chance to put another loss on the records of every NFC North rival, which brings them within one game of tying for the lead. The Lions can win all of their remaining division games and need to do so in order to establish a home field advantage.
If the Lions win every one of those games, they are suddenly at nine wins for the season. Nine wins you say? Isn't that the beginning of playoff territory? In a season where many of the NFC favorites have stumbled, nine wins could contend for a playoff spot as a wild-card. All it would take is a rebound by some of the teams that are down. As long as Dallas and Minnesota do not find their game against the Lions it could all work out.
This also places the remaining two games against the Jets and Patriots as statement games. The Lions will not be favored to win either game, but if they can win one of them they are potentially up to ten wins. That puts them solidly into playoff contention, making the game against the Jets hugely important.
One of the more interesting thoughts is that a win against the Jets would give the Lions confidence to play the remaining schedule and they will catch fire. New England is still a good team, but they are beatable this year. A confident and motivated Lions team could go into Thanksgiving Day on a four game winning streak. That would give them a nationwide stage to make the statement that they are relevant again.
Just think, the Lions could run the table and get to eleven wins!
OK, maybe I am really downing the cornbread and kool-aid now. But I happen to like cornbread and kool-aid! It is tasty and I feel good after I partake of the traditional Lions pre-game meal. We have plenty of things to be sad about in Detroit, but this year the Lions may not add to the downer. The Leos might actually be a reason to smile. In a time where reasons to smile are few, I will find them where I can. I say the Lions are going to run the table and make the playoffs!
There I said it. Now where is that cornbread.