So, the Detroit Lions. And the national buzz they’re getting. And the skepticism percolating inside you because of that buzz.
You’ve read it. You’ve heard it. From metrics collectors who like their (soft) schedule and days of rest between games to analysts who are doing their best to tamp down their own giddiness. Like ESPN’s Mina Kimes, who tweeted a television clip of her Lions love recently under the caption:
“God help me I’m drinking the Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid.”
God help her, indeed.
And God help you, right?
It’s a conundrum, certainly. You want to believe because it’s all you’ve got. Your life-long fandom, though, tells you not to. If it were just the typical, yearly push-pull of your heart that builds each summer you’d be fine.
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This rush of voices who’ve turned your Lions into national darlings?
It’s confusing, discombobulating, if you will. Even the Free Press’ Dave Birkett, ever moderate and cautious, predicted seven wins when the NFL schedule was released earlier this month.
Yeah, why not. Also, why stop there? How about 10 wins? 12 wins? 14 wins?
I mean, it’s happened before in the NFL. And if you look at the schedule, well, 14 wins isn’t ridiculous to imagine.
Here, let me help:
The Lions open at home against Philadelphia — win. They stay at home the next week against Washington — win. They travel to Minnesota (win; they are due in Minneapolis, come on.) They return home to host Seattle — win, obviously.
See how easy that is? Four and oh out of the gate.
After Seattle, the Lions head to New England. Let’s give them a loss. So 4-1. Not bad.
The next week is a bye. The week after is a trip to Dallas. Loss. Still, 4-2 and the leaves are still on the trees? Pinch yourself, because it gets better … when the Lions host Miami and move to 5-2 then host Green Bay and knock out Aaron Rodgers. (Who is he throwing to?)
Six and two at what used to be the halfway point of the season. The 17th game ruined that tidy marker. That’s ok. The Lions will win the next week, too — at Chicago — where they are also due, and they’ll win at New York (Giants) as well.
By my math, that’s 8-2. Can you fathom? No?
You will the following Thursday, when the Lions play the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving and give the country a taste of what’s been cooking in Detroit. It’ll be the most expensive ticket (on the secondary market at least) in recent memory.
Ten days later, Jacksonville comes to town. The Lions will lose … in your imagination. In reality, they will win. You will have expected it. You won’t know what to do with that expectation. And when they lose the following week to Minnesota at home, you’ll be irked you let expectation get the better of you.
But then the Lions travel back to New York. This time for the Jets. They win. Minnesota was a blip.
Besides, 11-3? Don’t get greedy. This is the fall of your life. About to be the early winter of your life. Already, you’ve had the best Thanksgiving of your life.
Now you get to watch the Lions play Carolina in Charlotte. They win. On a last-second touchdown pass from Jared Goff to Jameson Williams, who returned on Thanksgiving and raced past Buffalo’s secondary all afternoon.
The next week, the Lions come back home. They play Chicago. The Bears are a mess. It’s nice to watch a Chicago team implode. The Lions win. They are 13-3.
Green Bay is all that awaits. It’s cold at Lambeau Field in January. The Lions keep it close. Rodgers wins the game on a last-minute drive. The Lions finish 14-3.
How could it not be? Oh, you’re shaken by all the preseason optimism surrounding the Tigers?
Fair. Reasonable, too.
Yet at some point the Lions are going to pull off a turnaround like this and justify the hope that keeps surfacing among the national NFL cognoscenti. If not this year, then one of the next couple.
It’s odd, right? It’s been a looooooong time since the Lions have captured imagination of anyone, let alone so many outside observers.
Maybe Kimes is right. Maybe it’s just drinking Kool-Aid. Maybe the injuries pile up and Goff runs for his life the defense isn’t much better than it was a year ago, when it was, um, not good.
Or maybe they are onto something. Maybe the buzz Dan Cambell inspires among his players and staff is justified. Maybe the talent infusion Brad Holmes has engineered is real. Maybe the Lions become the darlings of the NFL because of winning, and not just the prospect of winning.
Absolutely. Let’s go with that. Eight wins and nine losses, enough to build momentum, enough to build hope.
Contact Shawn Windsor: 313-222-6487 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @shawnwindsor.