Just a few short weeks ago, most objective football fans would have scoffed at the very notion. The Lions going deep in the playoffs and -- gasp -- having a legitimate shot at getting to their very first -- cough, gag -- Super Bowl?
Get outta here. No way. The Lions? The same team that's won a grand total of one playoff game since the Eisenhower administration? The perpetual clown act? The Rodney Dangerfields of the NFL? The sorriest franchise in all of professional sports for the last half century?
Those guys? It can't be. Or can it?
After all, one doesn't have to look far to see long starving teams having won championhips lately. The Cavs in Cleveland a few months ago. And the Cubbies of Chitown finally broke through after a whopping 108 years of disappointment. It can be done. But the Lions?
Then again, this might just be the magical year. Consider----
After a sluggish 1-3 start, the Lions have won 4 out of 5 to get to 5-4. In itself, 5-4 doesn't seem very impressive. Barely above average. Yet further consider the competition in the NFC they would have to beat out to go far in the postseason.
The Green Bay Packers aren't as cheesed up this year as they usually are. Aaron Rodgers and company are struggling.
The Minnesota Vikings started off hot but, good defense or not, it was likely only a matter of time before having a brand new quarterback and the absence of superstud Adrian Petersen would catch up to them. It has recently.
The Philadelphia Eagles were quick out of the gate, but just as quick to slide back down in the last few weeks.
The Washington Redskins and New York Giants are no better than mediocre.
The Atlanta Falcons have a good record (6-3), but they're known for fading down the stretch and early exits from the playoffs.
Out west, the Seattle Seahawks remain a force, but that legion doesn't seem to have the boom they've had in years past. Definitely beatable.
The Carolina Panthers, they of the last Super Bowl, appear to be in disarray.
The Arizona Cardinals have taken a major swan dive since last year.
Most of the other teams in the NFC are just spinning their wheels with little shot of getting to the playoffs, let alone making any noise once there if they somehow manage to pull it off.
That leaves the Dallas Cowboys. They appear to be the real deal cruising along at 7-1. It remains to be seen whether they'd re-insert QB Tony Romo back into the starting lineup when he's healthy enough to play. Much has been made of how well rookie Dak Prescott has performed to date. Would they dare upset the apple cart? Unknown.
In the meantime, Lions QB Matthew Stafford has been as good as anybody in the NFC the last few weeks. Captain Comeback keeps pulling rabbits out of his hat and chalking up victories. To boot, the Detroit defense is holding their own and they've cut down on the usual variety of stupid penalties.
So add it all up and, at least at this point in time, the Lions are most definitely in the mix, plus they've got a fairly easy schedule the rest of the way out. After the bye week, creampuff Jacksonville comes to town. Then Minnesota on Thanksgiving. Hey, they just knocked off the Vikings on the road. No reason to think they won't do it again at home.
Then at New Orleans. Drew Brees and company are a shell of what they were just a few years ago, though they can be tough at home.
Another home game with the Bears shouldn't be a problem.
A trip to Jersey for the NY Giants will be a test, but Eli and the crew aren't all THAT.
Going into Dallas, especially given the way The Boys have played so far, is a long shot at a win.
The Lions finish up the regular season by hosting the Packers. One never knows in such games but, as mentioned above, Green Bay doesn't appear to be an elite team so far this year. This is a game the Lions should win.
Though many so-called experts predicted the Lions would go 5-11, 6-10 tops, barring a huge collapse, they would seem on pace to better those predictions by a wide margin. One never knows about the injury factor. though. If Stafford were to go down -- everything changes -- and not for the better.
But if the Lions are ever going to get it done, they'll never have a better chance than this year. Not counting the Cowboys, Detroit looks to be as good as anybody else in the NFC.
However, it IS the Lions, remember? If there's a way to screw it up, they'll likely find it. Tis their nature. Always has been.
But wouldn't it be something if they actually -- wheeze, sputter, choke -- made it to the -- dare I say it?
Holy Moses. It's almost too much to even think of.