| The Detroit News
This soft stretch of the Lions schedule hasn’t been cushy enough for a team, and organization, now on the brink.
The second half of this season is among a long list of foreboding feelings for Michiganders facing a long winter.
It’s either going to be a depressing and listless crawl to the end of the Matt Patricia era or perhaps worse: Just enough life shown to bring this overmatched regime back for another year.
There are no good outcomes and even fewer reasons to watch.
But hey, given the state of everything else, what else is there for a Detroit sports fan to do?
Since we must, here are five things to watch as the Lions play host to Washington on Sunday (1 p.m., Fox/760):
1. What could have been? Tua Tagovailoa is the talk of the NFL and fellow rookie quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow are also true revelations. Chase Young, whom the Lions will try to block on Sunday, has been great for Washington and will be a true cornerstone for years. Then there’s Jeff Okudah, who is improving but still raw. Okudah might have a long and strong NFL career. But the smart money Sunday is on more longing for what could have been.
2. All 11? Ridiculous as it sounds about a professional football team, we need to make sure the Lions send 11 men out for their defensive plays. Maybe count them from home. Someone has to.
3. Another A.P. revenge try? Adrian Peterson playing at Minnesota is very clearly big news, as he will one day go into the Hall of Fame wearing Vikings horns. But tangling with Washington is also personal for the Lions veteran running back. Peterson seemed motivated early this year to prove Washington erred in cutting him in training camp. He’s slowed since, but he now has a chance to prove up close and personal to Ron Rivera that he’s still got something left.
4. Special start: Hey, let’s get sappy and feel good for Alex Smith. The former No. 1 pick suffered a gruesome leg injury in 2018. Nearly two years to the day — and 17 surgeries later — Smith will make his first start on Sunday since his leg nearly shattered on the field. It’s an astonishing triumph, a breathtaking achievement. His return is a bit uncomfortable to watch, somewhat difficult to comprehend. There’s just a lot happening here, a strange brand of inspiration and terror oddly appropriate in this captor of a year.
5. Golladay trip: The Lions will be without star wide receiver Kenny Golladay for the fourth game this season. They are 0-3 without him outright and against the spread. Detroit only has a chance this season when the defense comes to play. Each of the Lions’ three wins have hit the under, while the five losses were all over the total.
Matt Schoch is a writer for PlayMichigan.com and freelances for The Detroit News.