Since around 1 p.m. ET Thursday, the Lions’ schedule started taking shape. Revealing itself by way of other teams’ schedules springing a leak, the first game rumored was a matchup with the New York Giants on “Monday Night Football.” Eventually, just like the other 31 teams, the Lions had a schedule all their own, foretold by donut filling, exploding baseballs and lots of things covered or containing paint:
The afterparty was less fun, with people from Lions Twitter already skeptical of Detroit’s chances before the team’s roster—or any team’s roster, really—is anywhere close to being set:
Lions with the 4th toughest strength of schedule through the first 8 games of 2017: 71-56-1 for a .559 winning percentage.— Ryan Mathews (@Ryan_POD) April 21, 2017
Okay, so maybe I didn’t help things out by passing this along, but the past is the past! Out with the old and in with the new! Players in free agency, jerseys, the schedule; there are a lot of new, tangible things about this team. What better way to make sense of it all with my 21st-century Magic 8 Ball?
Week 1: Will the Lions start off the season 1-0 by beating Arizona?
An emphatic judgment from the almighty Magic 8 Ball. I love its conviction. This thing must have a fly on the wall in Arizona’s front office, watching them go absolutely looney over which direction their team is headed in. Carson Palmer was on the cover of NCAA Football 2004, and that means he ain’t no spring chicken. Calais Campbell left in free agency because nobody sees the Jack$onville Jaguar$ the way he does, and he thinks they’re “close.”
Do they draft a quarterback as the heir apparent to Palmer? Do they take a safety to replace the loss of Tony Jefferson? All me and the Magic 8 Ball know is that they’re going to take this L in Week 1.
Week 2: Do the Lions score a touchdown against the Giants this time?
Well, damn. This is the thing about the Magic 8 Ball: It says it has sources, but where they at though? Take this one with a grain of salt, or don’t because even though the Lions upgraded their offensive line and Matthew Stafford’s index finger has gotten better with rest, they still need to have a running back healthy enough to not fumble in the red zone.
Week 3: Will Atlanta blow a lead to Detroit and will Twitter be ruthless about it?
One thing I’ll never get enough of is Twitter’s collective pettiness when it comes to sports. Nothing is scrubbed from the record books. No blown lead or bold proclamation is ever lost to the sands of time.
It’s entirely possible the Falcons miss the playoffs altogether. I’m not going to say it will happen on the off chance that Twitter catches wind of this—and I know the Falcoholics are watching—but how does a team ever recover from something like what happened in Super Bowl 51? I wouldn’t know, because, well, you know...
Week 4: Will Golden Tate use a new part of his body to degrade a Vikings player?
Nothing will ever be as disrespectful and visually astounding as Golden Tate flipping into the end zone, for the win, and laying waste to Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo. Nothing. Ever. It’s the most memorable moment in Lions history for the rest of your life, your child’s life, and then football doesn’t exist because it’s such a dangerous sport. So basically it’s the most memorable moment for the rest of forever.
Week 5: Will the Lions be above .500 after this game against Carolina?
Some are labeling this five-game stretch as a brutal for the Lions. It’s not going to be easy, but then again, who knows? The Magic 8 Ball, that’s who:
Okay, let’s give this another try...
The only thing that’s hazy is getting advice from an 8 ball. Whatever, I’m done with these charades. If you want my prognostication, my gut tells me the Lions will get off to a much better start in 2017, and by much better I mean the Lions will be 3-2 after this game.
Week 6: Will Stafford’s 2017 performance in New Orleans eclipse last year’s showing?
No pageantry or frills, I like it. But how could Stafford possibly outdo himself from the show he put on in New Orleans a year ago? He didn’t have a better game away from Ford Field in 2016 and what’s that... facts?
If he does, the Lions could head into their bye week on the same high they were riding last season, but not quite like the one I was on en route to a place where the Presidente flows freely and Snapchat becomes a tool by the pool:
Week 7: Will Jace Billingsley have 50 snaps on offense by the bye week?
Winnemucca, rejoice. Your boy made it.
Week 8: Will Ben Roethlisberger get sacked between six and nine times?
Yeah, those are some pretty lofty numbers to throw out there, but Ford Field is always rockin’ for primetime games. This question would have indirectly told us if the Lions were planning on taking a pass rusher in the first round too, because there was nobody on the team that had nine sacks all of last season.
Week 9: Will Olivia Munn’s ex ever find love again?
Munn sure has come a long way. From co-hosting “Attack of the Show” on the now defunct G4 network to playing Psylocke in a major motion picture, her career trajectory has only been on the up-and-up. Here’s to her intuition, and knowing when to cut things loose when they’re on the decline and holding her back.
Week 10: Will the Cleveland Browns finish with a better record than the Los Angeles Rams in 2017?
I agree, Magic 8 Ball, let’s not hurt Reno’s feelings in public like this.
There’s a long-standing wager between fellow Pride Of Detroit writer Alex Reno and myself, and it centers on this very premise: Who will have a better record in 2017, the Browns or the Rams?
This all started when things got a little heated in the POD Slack room. It was Week 15, the Rams and Seahawks were on “Thursday Night Football” and Jared Goff was further cementing himself as the biggest goober in the entire league. Here’s the basic gist of the conversation between Reno and myself:
M: “The Browns are loaded with draft picks and are flexible at QB heading into 2017, I think they’ll have a better season than they did this year.”
A: “No, the Rams have a better a defense than the Browns.”
M: “While that’s true, this draft is loaded with defensive talent, and the Browns have a more apt head coach. Fisher is doing nothing for the Rams and he just signed an extension! Think they’ll get some difference makers in the draft.”
A: “lol yeah right, the Browns are awful and Jeff Fisher isn’t that bad.”*
Editor’s note (Reno): This is total bullshit. We’ve all been betrayed by Ryan, who is not-so-secretly a bigger Browns fan than Lions fan.
Week 11: Will the Lions continue to own the Bears in 2017?
That’s fine, Magic 8 Ball. We understand. It’s about the big picture when it comes to this question. We’ll reconvene four weeks from now to get the answer we seek.
Week 12: Will Detroit still be in the mix for the NFC North crown after this game?
Thanksgiving 2016 was a huge game for the Lions; it pushed the Vikings out of first and gave Detroit sole possession of the division lead. According to Magic 8 Ball, this game will once again be an important stepping stone in the Lions chase for a division title.
Week 13: Will Joe Flacco be deemed “elite” by Lions fans after the final whistle?
There’s no chance the Lions defense will be as horrid as it was a year ago. It can’t be. For both your sake and mine, it just can’t be. The role of judge, jury and executioner will be played by Lord Pretty Flacco himself. What say you, trusty Magic 8 Ball?
Not only is this the most pseudo answer, but it’s probably the best answer to football’s greatest conundrum.
Week 14: Will the Buccaneers be even better than people thought they were a year ago?
Everyone needs a team from Florida to root for—mine happens to be the Jaguars—but most people choose the Buccaneers for whatever stupid reason.
Remember when the Bucs defense was absolutely stifling, holding Russell Wilson and Co. to just 5 total points in their Week 12 matchup last season? It was their third win in a row, and it came a week after Tampa Bay beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead, 19-17.
Remember earlier that year when the same Bucs team, at home, surrendered 37 points to Case Keenum and Co. and lost to the Los Angeles Rams?
I think the Bucs are closer to being the team they were in the second half of last season, but I also think their offense is only as good as Jameis Winston is on any given Sunday, and sometimes that can be a pretty mixed bag.
Week 15: Will the Lions sweep the season series with the Bears?
Week 16: Will it be a happy holiday in Allen Park?
Last year, the Bengals finished 6-9-1 which is not quite nice, but last year there were some growing pains. Losing Hue Jackson and their depth at wide receiver was tough—Cincinnati finished 24th in points scored. The Lions struggle outside, and playing on the road on Christmas Eve could present the chance for some inclement weather. Hopefully the Lions will have built some wiggle room into their win-loss record because Week 17...
Week 17: Will this game once again decide the division?
Magic 8 Ball thinks this might be a chance at redemption. Or maybe the Packers will be contending with the Vikings and the Lions are reduced to being spoilers. Let this be a lesson to any and all about asking specific and targeted questions.
Rod Wood wanted the schedule makers to do some kind things for Detroit, and did they ever. The Lions schedule is an ebb and flow of both home and road games, and Detroit earned itself five nationally televised games. When Wood asked for some consideration, they were gift wrapped a home game to close out the season against the Green Bay Packers on New Year’s Eve, and it doesn’t get more anticipated than that.