Monday, December 12, 2016

Detroit Lions. Show time

The Detroit Lions continue to confound the pundits. Few, if any, foresaw them being 9-4 at this point in the season. True, they've had an ultra-soft schedule, and they've certainly caught more than their fair share of breaks along the way. Yet credit where credit is due. Time after time the Lions have rallied from behind in the fourth quarter of games to pull out a win.

Idle thought. Why is it that when one team gets multiple penalties called on it on a given play, only one of them is enforced? For example, say roughing the opposing quarterback and defensive pass interference happen on the same play. The offense gets to choose one, but can't have both. Why not? Take the ball at the spot of the interference call and move it ahead another 15 yards for the roughing. Hey, if you get pulled over for speeding and also happen to be under the influence, don't they charge you with both?

But now it's show time for the Lions. Their remaining three games will separate the proverbial men from the boys. All of their opponents are worthy contenders fighting for playoff spots and positions as well.

First up -- @ the NY Giants. Eli, Odell and Co. are a tough bunch to figure. They can play great one game, and not so hot the next. The Giants are without the services of fearsome D-lineman Jason Pierre Paul, but it's difficult to underestimate them -- particularly at home. After all, they're coming off a win over the high flying Dallas Cowboys. No easy task accomplished. Will they experience a letdown when Detroit visits? Maybe, maybe not. The Lions will have their hands full in New Jersey.

Then they travel to Dallas. As we all know, the Cowboys had rattled off 11 wins in a row after a one point loss to the Giants on opening day, before they fell again to them yesterday. Chances are they'll be fairly motivated to get back on the winning track to lock up a first round playoff bye so they can rest some of their key players. Taking on the Cowboys in Big D will be a formidable task for the Lions. Certainly they'll be underdogs, but the Lions are a strange bunch as well. Always have been. Just when one thinks they should win -- or lose -- any particular game, they'll up and do the opposite. They must drive the oddsmakers crazy.

In the regular season finale, Green Bay comes to Detroit. For much of the season, the Cheeser faithful were not happy campers. The Packers started off slowly, losing to teams they would normally roll over. Yes, they lost the services of sack monster Clay Matthews, their three top cornerbacks, and normally reliable QB Aaron Rodgers was struggling as well. To boot, star receiver Jordy Nelson had gotten banged up. Despite all that, there were even rumblings that long time head coach Mike McCarthy could be on the hot seat if they didn't somehow right their ship fairly quick. Green Bay is a great football town inhabited by the finest of people, but they won't tolerate a loser for very long.  But they appear to have righted their ship indeed.  The Pack have been playing very well of late. The beatdown they gave a very good Seattle Seahawks team is testament to that. Though the Lions and their fans will no doubt be geeked for this contest (depending on what happens in the above two games, and elsewhere around the league -- the Lions could be playing for a home playoff date, going on the road, or -- horrors -- missing out entirely), the Packers have to keep the petal to the metal to even get into the playoffs as a likely wild card. The Detroit game could well be a win it and go on, or lose it and go home affair for them. Factoring in playoff experience, which the Packers have a lot of, but the current Lions very little, betting against them in such a game is a mighty risky proposition. But again, the Lions always seem to do the unexpected. Their entire season to date is Exhibit A.

So how it will all turn out is anybody's guess. That's why they play the games -- right? But one thing for sure. The Lions have given their fans way more of a ride than most of them expected this year.

Could the magic keep going? And for how long?  Or will it all come crashing down on the Honolulu blue and silver between now and New Year's day?

This is crunch time for the Lions in more ways than one. Gone are the patsies they played earlier in the season. The Giants, Cowboys, and Packers are the real deal and they know how to act down the stretch. With two of the three games on the road, it's a rough task for Detroit.

Parting idle thought. Wouldn't it be something if the Lions wound up in a highly improbable march all the way to the Super Bowl? Unlikely, but theoretically possible. Who would be the most frustrated person of all? Likely Calvin Megatron Johnson, recently retired. After all those years he gave blood, sweat and tears in losing causes, while racking up border line Hall of Fame receiving stats, he'd have to shake his head and wonder why he didn't hang around for just one more year.

Nevertheless, on with the show. This is getting good.

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