Monday, December 8, 2014

Detroit Lions. Playoff bound?

Maybe. The Murphy's Law syndrome that has plagued them for decades seems to have done a U-turn. Everything that could go right, HAS gone right.

Currently at a very respectable 9-4, the Lions are definitely in the hunt for a playoff spot. But make no mistake, a lot of this has to do with two things. A great deal of luck, and a weak schedule.

Remember, earlier in the year, the Lions made three improbable 4th quarter comebacks to win games against New Orleans, Atlanta, and Miami. In the one against the Falcons -- in London -- the game was lost after a last second field try missed. But on a penalty to THEMSELVES, the Lions got another shot. That one was good. How often does THAT happen?

The following week they had to face the high-flying Arizona Cardinals out west. But their starting QB Carson Palmer had gone down with a season-ending injury the game before. A fantastic break for the Lions. Alas, they would still lose that game, but it was as if Lady Luck at least gave them a much better shot.

OK, they then got blistered @ New England. Did anyone really expect otherwise? But while other teams have had to endure brutal schedules, this was the only really tough game for the Lions.

Next up, three patsy games against Chicago, Tampa Bay, and Minnesota -- all at home. The Bears are in free-fall, the Bucs are terrible, and the Vikings not much better, especially still without the services of Adrian Petersen. The Lions have won the first two to pad their record. Then a road game at Soldier Field in a rematch with the Bears. For an entire month, could their schedule possibly have been any easier?

Their regular season finale is against the Packers in Green Bay. While the Lions might well be 11-4 going into that game, chances are Aaron Rodgers and company will take them to the frozen woodshed at Lambeau, switches in hand. Still, 11-5 ain't too shabby, especially considering the Lions could easily have wound up 8-8, far out of the playoff picture, if not for things falling their way this year.

And the luck doesn't stop there. Consider the NFC playoff picture. The Cardinals are likely in, as is Green Bay. The Eagles are looking pretty good in the East. Count them in. In the pitiful south, somebody has to be division champion, which guarantees a playoff berth. That leaves the two wild card spots.

Most think it will come down to Detroit, Seattle, and Dallas. This is where the Lions have caught yet another break. Though the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks appear to be rounding back into championship form, -- a methodical beatdown of the Eagles in Philly was quite impressive -- the Cowboys (despite currently sporting the same 9-4 record as the Lions) have a problem. Actually three of them.

The first is their next game, in Philly. Just a couple weeks back, the Eagles hammered them in Jerry Jones' palace. Things will likely only get worse in the City of Brotherly Love -- especially coming off the stinging defeat at the hands of the Seahawks.

Then they get Indianapolis, Andrew Luck and company, no slouches, and playoff contenders as well.

Lastly, Tony Romo and the Cowboys have become known for their December swoons in recent years.

So just for fun, let's do a little crystal ball gazing and guessing. The Cardinals in the West, Packers in the North, Atlanta in the South, and Philly in the East all win their divisions. The Cowboys fall out of wild card contention.

That would leave the Lions and the Seahawks.

And if THAT happens, Detroit Lions' fans need to ask themselves an honest question.

Do I really think my beloved Honolulu blue and silver heroes have the remotest shot at knocking off the Seahawks in the intense atmosphere of a playoff game -- especially if it's in Seattle?

But one never knows. Three more games remain to be played and a lot of things can happen.

Yet if this plays out the way it's shaping up right now -- the anti-Murphy, Lady Luck, and a weak schedule will have gone by the wayside for the Lions. Playoff time is playoff time and they better hope things shake out to where their first game isn't in Seattle. Because if it is, the Lions' streak of only winning one playoff game since Super Bowls started back in the 1960s will continue.

Certainly, the Lions have improved a great deal since last year for various reasons. But when looking at the whole landscape of the NFL, from the elite, to bottom-feeders, to all those somewhere in between -- the Lions are amongst the latter.

Better than average, but nowhere near Super Bowl caliber. If they make the playoffs, which seems likely, look for them to make a quick exit as well. Better is good, but they're not ready for prime time yet, and may not be any year soon.

And let's get real. Matthew Stafford can pass for 3 or 4 miles worth of yardage every year, and Calvin Johnson can catch most of them. Their defense can be amongst the stoutest in the league. Stats here, stats there, stats everywhere. But until they can make a deep playoff run against the big boys when it counts most, up to and including the Super Bowl, it just doesn't matter.

And it ain't gonna happen this year either. Again. Good, but not nearly good enough. Who's kidding who?

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