Only in Detroit does anybody truly believe the Lions are a really good team. They are decidedly not. Maybe average, at best, in the NFL. Everybody else around the country gets it, especially all the football gurus who get paid big bucks to be knowledgeable about such things. But in Detroit, this was supposed to be "the year". Sound familiar? Guess what? The only place the Lions are going is down. Perhaps hard.
Yes, the final score in their opening game against the San Diego Chargers was respectable, but the Lions were horribly outplayed. Jumping ahead to an early lead was nothing more than smoke and mirrors. A pin-balled interception returned for a touchdown? But eventually reality kicked in and the better team won. Here's a couple telling stats. The Chargers ran 74 offensive plays compared to a meager 47 by the Lions. Charger QB Philip Rivers threw for over 400 yards against the beleaguered Lions defense. Only a couple turnovers stopped the onslaught.
So the Lions are a predictable 0-1, and things don't get any easier next week. Off to Minnesota, where some guy named Adrian Petersen has had a full year to rest and rejuvenate. He's not only healthy -- he's pissed and on a mission. AP has predicted he'll rush for 2500 yards this season. Considering that number would obliterate the all-time NFL season rushing record by over 300 yards, AP's boast would seem to be quite the stretch. Then again, he'll be going up against the Lions, who, BTW, lost their best two run-stuffing defensive tackles (Suh and Fairley) to free agency last year. AP could well gash them for at least a buck fifty, maybe a deuce, especially at home.
However that turns out, next up for the Lions is Peyton and the Denver Broncos coming to Detroit. The Broncos have two absolute beastly edge-rushers in Demarcus Ware and Vonn Miller, and the Lions have cobbled together a new offensive line. Pass happy Lions' QB Matthew Stafford could have a long and painful day in the Lions home opener.
Then off to the proverbial slaughterhouse in Seattle. Good luck with that one.
Then back home to host the Arizona Cardinals. How good are the Cards? Many pundits are picking them to win the NFC West over even Seattle.
While the home town hype machine continues to peddle the Honolulu blue and silver koolaid, and the gullible fans likewise continue to chug it -- it's entirely possible the Lions could start 0-5. The once pseudo-promising season would have gone up in flames, before even Halloween.
Maybe it plays out that way and maybe not. But if so, this is what happens when a team waltzed through a pitifully weak schedule the year before, caught every break imaginable along the way to make the playoffs, and got bounced in the first round -- again. Playoff teams get tougher schedules the following year.
The really good ones stay competitive. The historic also-rans are exposed and go back down in a hurry.
Just a guess, but I'm thinking the Lions fit the latter category. And all their local hype isn't going to change that.