The Detroit Lions won their season opener. Some would say it was a rout. The 35-14 final score would certainly suggest that. But let's look a litttle deeper.
First of all, the NY Giants are a terrible football team right now. Despite winning a couple Super Bowls in recent years, the Giants are a shell of their former selves. Their once vaunted defensive line can't generate any pressure. Once known for their bruising running game, they no longer have an O-line capable of opening holes, let alone a featured running back to run through them.
Their receiver corps has been decimated, and their secondary looks like the Keystone Kops running around, totally lost in coverages. Against the Lions, they blew more assignments than the girls on the chicken ranches outside of Vegas.
QB Eli Manning appears totally clueless. On one play, he threw a pass to a receiver while five, count em, five Detroit Lions defenders were in the area. Not surprisingly, it was intercepted. It's hard to believe he was once the Super Bowl MVP. Sorry for the pun, but Eli's not coming anymore. He's going, quickly, and in a bad way. As in down. Bordering on pitiful, not only in this game, but last year as well. Bottom line is the Giants aren't a pretty sight these days.
But what of the Lions? 35-14 is still pretty impressive, right? Maybe. Local koolaiders have said these are not your "same old Lions". They have talent across the board every which way, they claim.
Yet a case could be made on several fronts these are indeed the same old Lions. They beat a patsy at home on opening night and the Honolulu blue and silver faithful are already revved up. Again. For the umpteenth decade in a row.
On offense, it's still basically the Matthew to Calvin show. Both have racked up impressive yardage stats over the last few years, but how has that worked out in the end? Only one playoff appearance in which they were blown out by New Orleans a few years back.
Though the Lions had their way against the hapless Giants, they were up to their old not-so-good tricks. Stupid penalty after stupid penalty. At one point, the Lions had more penalty yards (85) than the Giants had (75) in total offense. New coach Jim Caldwell may have brought in new schemes but, so far, he appears clueless on how to fix the on-field mental discipline problems that have plagued the Lions since, well, forever. It's like such gaffes are woven into the DNA of the franchise. Such things are easily overlooked when posting a 21 point victory over another team -- despite how terrible they are -- but might well cost the Lions dearly when they face better competition.
In that respect, the Lions caught a major break. The NFL couldn't have handed them a softer schedule for 2014 than what it did. Outside of their mandatory 6 division games, the Lions only have a couple against top-notch opponents. Check it out.
Next week they go to Carolina. They'll face a sterner test there than the sorry effort the Giants gave them at home. Then back home to face the Packers. Then off to the carnival land of Rex Ryan's NY Jets. If they come out of all that 4-0, lookout. The Lions might re-adopt "Another One Bites the Dust" as their theme song, and start talking about the Super Bowl. Again. That didn't work out so hot the last time, even when Barry Sanders was running wild. Barry finally came to his senses and took a hike, leaving many millions of dollars on the table, because he just couldn't see the Lions being truly competitive in the near future. Turned out -- he was exactly right.
And now here we are again, Lions' fans. Your team still features much the same, both good and bad, and they just put up a "big" win over a team in total disarray on Monday Night Football. Plus they have a weak schedule for the remainder of the year. They could get off to a flying start, much like they did last year at 6-3.
But in your heart of hearts, do you really think they can compete with the likes of Green Bay, the 49ers, much less the Seahawks, if they even MAKE it to the playoffs? Not I. Further, many football "experts" have predicted the Lions to finish third, or even last, in their own division. Somewhere between a 6-10 and 8-8 record seems to be their common theme.
The Lions are supposedly better than they were last year. But they've said that EVERY year since the 1960's.
Here's wishing them well, but yours truly stopped buying into the hype many years ago. It's put up or shut up time.
We shall see......