The Lions got beat fair and square in Arizona by a better team. This is what happens when a good, but not great QB (Matthew Stafford), a superstar receiver (Calvin Johnson), and other weapons of so-called offensive mass destruction (Golden Tate, a bevy of tight ends, etc.) run into a team with a defense that can neutralize them all.
Though the Cardinals were without starting QB Carson Palmer, and former Lion QB Drew Stanton did his part to help out the Honolulu blue and silver cause by throwing a couple interceptions (he also threw for over 300 yards -- not too shabby), the game swung on the Cardinals' defense. Their very talented cornerbacks and safeties were in the hip pockets of Johnson, Tate, and company all game long. Plus, their defensive front pretty much stuffed the running game of the Lions. End result -- Detroit could only manage 6 points for the entire game. A total offensive production of two field goals isn't going to get it done in the NFL these days.
After a rather weak first half of their schedule, where the Lions piled up a 7-2 record, they finally had to play a really good team on the road.
Next week they get the dubious honor of visiting New England. After a slow start, Belichick and the Brady Bunch have reeled off 6 wins in a row. The last two have been particularly noteworthy. They trashed Peyton Manning and the Broncos by 3 touchdowns and, earlier tonight, waltzed into Indy and did the same to Andrew Luck and his AFC South division leading Colts. The Pats are definitely on a roll, and few would think the Lions will have much of a chance in Foxborough next Sunday.
So for the sake of argument, let's say the Lions are 7-4 after that game is played. Then come the crossroads.
Out of their remaining five games, four of them are definitely winnable. Two against the Bears, and dates with the Buccaneers and Vikings. Let's also assume they lose their finale in Green Bay. Besides the Packers owning the Lions at Lambeau Field in recent decades, Aaron Rodgers and his own crew of cheesers have been on a roll as well. They just blistered a pretty good Philadelphia Eagles team by over 4 touchdowns and seem to be firing on all cylinders as well.
Idle thought: In two weeks the Pack hosts the Patriots. THAT will definitely be a game worth watching.
In the Detroit area, much praise has been lauded on new head coach Jim Caldwell. He's gotten rid of the losing culture. He runs the team like a CEO. No stone goes unturned. The players have all bought into his system. And that's great -- except it sounds familiar. Didn't they say the same thing about Jim Schwartz and the guy before him -- and the guy before him, etc.?
Here's a couple things that are indisputable. First, the Lions were in much the same situation last year with their record. They had several "winnable" games remaining and were supposed to cruise into the playoffs. Instead, they crashed and burned.
Second, Jim Caldwell has yet to coach the Lions in December, much less January, when they typically freeze up like the turf at Lambeau.
Though the Lions' faithful (see suckahs) are once again chugging the Honolulu blue and silver koolaid with visions of a deep run in the playoffs (gasp -- Super Bowl?) dancing in their delirious heads -- an objective person could look at their body of work so far this year and conclude they are an average team at best. Three straight improbable fourth quarter comebacks to win in recent games when they likely should have lost them all? And two of them coming against teams with losing records, all replete with bizarre last-second plays and questionable calls?
Nonetheless, such is the way it goes in the NFL these days. On any given day, with a little luck......
But if the Lions are predictably blown out by New England, to lose two straight to good teams, then will come the crossroads indeed.
Will they regroup and win the games they "should" to make it into the playoffs? Or will they practice their usual December origami and revert back to the puddy-tats we have all grown to love, and scorn, over the years?
One thing's for sure. The Lions don't want to pin their playoff hopes on winning that last game in Green Bay.
So can they take care of biz in "winnable" games? Who knows?
Just about the time Santa Claus in making his yearly toy run, a few days before the Green Bay game, the picture will definitely be clearer.