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Halfway There

Now that the Lions have played half of their games for the 2007 season, it's time to look back and look ahead.

8 games into the season, I'd be willing to bet nobody had the Lions going 6-2.  Just look at my prediction for 2007.  I only had the Lions winning 6 games all season, and already, Detroit has done just that.  It's important to remember that there's still a lot of football to be played, but for right now at least, the Lions are winning, something we're not used to at all here in Detroit.

What is really interesting about the success the Lions have had so far this season is to go back and look at Detroit's records since Matt Millen got here.  Take a look and tell me if you notice something:

2001: 2-14
2002: 3-13
2003: 5-11
2004: 6-10
2005: 5-11
2006: 3-13

See how the wins column slowly began to increase from 2001-2004 and then decreased from then until 2006?  Well, the best season from those six years was 2004 when the Lions went 6-10.  That means that the most games won in a single season by Detroit since 2001 is 6, and in all of those years the Lions have had at least 10 or more losses.

Now that we're halfway through 2007 and already have seen 6 wins, two achievements could be reached after Sunday's game.  The first is getting to 7 wins.  That would mean that Detroit would finally have done better than the previous six seasons and could start to erase that from everyone's memory.  The second, and a monumental feat it would be, is keeping the number of losses to a single digit.  With 7 wins, the most losses the Lions could have is 9, meaning that 10 or more is no more.

Although 2007 has been a great year already without a doubt, we do need to stay grounded as fans of this team.  I know, I know, when the Lions win 6 out of 8 games it calls for celebration, but the eventual goal would be to continue playing into January, and that is a long way away right now.  I hate to be pessimistic, but I do need to get this thought out of my head.  

5 of Detroit's 6 wins have come over teams with records below .500.  I'm not saying that diminishes what they have accomplished at all, but it is something to consider when thinking into the future.  The two losses Detroit has had were just downright embarrassing, and one of them came to a mediocre Philadelphia team.  The Eagles, as you all probably remember, dropped 56 points on the Lions and had little trouble in doing so.  Other than that game, Philadelphia has scored more than 17 points on only one other occasion, really making you wonder how they were able to score 56 against Detroit.

The other loss Detroit suffered this year came to another NFC East team on the road.  That was to the Washington Redskins, and again, was a blowout for the most part.  Detroit lost 34-3 and were dominated in all aspects, again raising some concern for the future.

The reason I am bringing all of these negatives up right now is because Detroit's schedule for the second half of the season is very tough.  Running down the list, there are important match ups with playoff-caliber teams on more than a few occasions, so Detroit will have to bring its best each week.  

Let's take a look at the Lions' final 8 regular season games.

11/11 - at Arizona
11/18 - vs NY Giants
11/22 - vs Green Bay
12/02 - at Minnesota
12/09 - vs Dallas
12/16 - at San Diego
12/23 - vs Kansas City
12/30 - at Green Bay

That is a very tough stretch of games for any team, and with the Lions, who have no experience when it comes to playing important games this late in the season, it will be vital for them to keep up the play we're seeing now for the next 8 games.  Briefly running down the schedule, I see 1 or 2 games that I would be confident about for the Lions to win.  Those two games are at Arizona this Sunday and home to Kansas City in the year's last home game.  Arizona just isn't that good, and I really don't see Kansas City as being a huge threat come the end of December.  Already Larry Johnson's health is in question and some reports even had him out for the year, so well over a month from now their team really could be decimated with key injuries.

Aside from Arizona and Kansas City, Detroit is looking at a very tough road to finish out the year.  With games against playoff teams like the Giants, Packers (twice), Cowboys, and Chargers, getting to 8-8 could end up being a struggle.  That may sound strange considering it only takes two more wins for Detroit to ensure a .500 record at season's end, but a collapse easily could happen by this team, especially since the schedule isn't in their favor.

When it comes down to it, will this team hit the 10-win plateau?  I honestly don't know.  Ask me after the Thanksgiving game and I'll be able to provide you all with an answer I'm confident in.  By then, we'll know if Detroit was able to avoid a trap game in Arizona, and then will also know how they played against two playoff teams in the Giants and Packers.  Until then, I really just am not sure what to think.  My heart wants to start drinking the Kool-Aid, but my mind says to not get my expectations up.  I guess I'll have to settle somewhere in the middle and will take a few sips before knowing whether to chug it all or dump it out in the next few weeks.  

Regardless of what happens down the road, I must say, I do enjoy talking about a winning team 8 games into the season.  That is a welcomed change considering a year ago we were discussing the draft.  Let's hope this continues into December and beyond.

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