As we have reached the midpoint in Detroit's season, it's time to take a look back at the first 8 games, and also to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.
2006 got off to a very interesting start as the Lions showed a lot of promise. With a new coaching staff and many new players, you can't expect them to go out and win immediately, but rather look good. That's exactly what happened. The Lions opened the season at home against the defending NFC champs and stayed around. They only lost 9-6, but many at that point started to recognize the Lions as being a possible good team. Although the offense certainly didn't get it done, the defense played exceptionally well. Many thought this is how the season would play out, but instead it was a reversal of roles.
The following week Detroit traveled to Chicago and just got rolled over by the Bears. Chicago not only controlled things on defense, but Rex Grossman and his fellow teammates on offense threw touchdown after touchdown, just shredding Detroit's secondary. Chicago blew out Detroit and now things were looking bleak for the rest of the season.
For the next three games, Detroit would have a chance to win them all, but in the end, just lose by a touchdown or so. Green Bay was a close game for all 60 minutes, and the Packers just pulled away at the right time to seal up a victory. Then, when Detroit went to St. Louis, it was back and forth. The Lions held a lead and then it would go back to the Rams. Unfortunately, it was on St. Louis' side when the final whistle sounded. Finally, the Minnesota game was just a 4th quarter choke job. Detroit had a 17-3 lead going into the quarter and ended up losing thanks to costly turnovers. After five games, Detroit was still winless.
Heading into Week 6, the Lions needed to get a win. The nice part was that they were playing Buffalo, a team closer to the bottom of the NFL. Detroit did what they needed to do and got their first win of the season by a score of 20-17. That really was a big game as you never want to be called 0-6. The question was could they continue that success for weeks to follow. The very next game would be a no to answer that question. Detroit got run over, literally, in a 31-24 defeat to the Jets.
That takes us to Week 9, which is where we just left off on Sunday. The Lions went out on the field and upset the Falcons in convincing fashion. Mike Vick couldn't get anything going as he was shut down by Detroit's defense, and then Roy Williams and company scored repeatedly to power a 30-14 win.
After 8 games, the Lions stand with a record of 2-6. This isn't what I was hoping for at this point in the season, but things are looking to be on an upswing. I really think that the record doesn't speak for the team. They have made many mistakes early on, but this team is getting better. So many times one or two plays could've changed a couple of games. Heck, the Lions could have a 4-4 record or even better if it weren't for a few 4th quarter collapses.
Where exactly do I see this season going? To tell you the truth, I truly believe Detroit has a chance to win some games down the stretch. The schedule is very favorable, which is my main reasoning behind the projected outcome you'll see in a bit. Just look at it. You have a below average 49ers team coming to town this weekend, a bad Cardinals team in Glendale next week, a questionable Dolphins team on Thanksgiving, and then the Vikings and Packers from the NFC North later on.
The best the Lions could go record-wise to finish the season in my mind is 6-2. Out of the three toughest games remaining (Patriots, Bears, and Cowboys), I think Detroit can win at least one of them. The worst case scenario would probably be if they reversed things and went 2-6, but I really don't see that happening. Overall, I'll go in the middle and put them at 4-4, giving them a final record of 6-10. Could they win a couple more than that? Sure. But, I know how the Lions play, and they won't be able to keep it going.
With that 4-4 record, I see them getting 2 of those wins in the next 3 games, and then the other 2 in those NFC North games. To be more specific, I'll give'em a win over the Vikings, and in an upset special, over the Bears. Now, when the season does end, these predictions could be completely wrong and I could look like a complete idiot, but we'll just have to wait and see.
Here's to hoping the second half of 2006 is better than the first, because really I'm not sure if it's possible to be much worse.