Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Happy Hour 04/11: Keeping My Lions Glass Half Empty

Well, dagnabbit - Big Al already beat me to this, but while driving around town today and listening to the announcement of the NFL schedules (and later marveling at how much air time ESPN was devoting to this as I watched during lunch), it seemed like perfectly good material for a post, so I'm still going through with it. Not only do I hate swallowing a decent (if unoriginal) idea, but hey, I already typed most of this out.

Last year, I pegged the Detroit Lions for a 6-10 record and third-place finish in the NFC North division. What little optimism fueled that prediction was based on a belief that the Lions would at least be better than the Green Bay Packers. Oops. Apparently, I seriously underestimated the restorative powers of Sensodyne for Brett Favre.

Of course, I realize that the roster the Lions will take into September hasn't yet been fully formed. There's that whole draft thing, and then whatever free agents they could pick up following early summer and training camp cuts.

Also, it surely stands to reason that Motown's mighty gridiron heroes would have to show some improvement after a one-year apprenticeship in the Mike Martz Happy-Happy-Fun-Time offensive and Tampa Two defensive schemes. Not to give the rest of this post away, but you'll soon discover that I'm right in line with that line of thinking.

So let's get to it, and run down the Detroit Lions' 2007 schedule:

Sept. 9 @ Raiders: Right away, the naysayers will have a chance to utter those tired refrains, "Same ol' Lions" and "I told you they sucked." On paper, the Raiders are a worse football team. Yet going to the West Coast will throw off their body clocks and circadian rhythms. Making it more infuriating is that the Lions could be beaten by their former back-up quarterback, if Josh McCown is traded to Oakland, as is rumored. LOSS

Sept. 16 - Vikings: Though the Lions have become even worse than history and conventional wisdom might inform you, I'll still cling to the theory that they tend to split the season series with the Vikings. And we pretty much know they won't win in the Metrodome. I tend to think Minnesota could be terrible, but have no hard facts to back that up right now. So the Lions will be 1-1, and for one week, Lions fans will actually allow that bud of optimism to flower. WIN

Sept. 23 @ Eagles: Dude, you can't be serious. Beat the Eagles at Philadelphia? Broham, please. LOSS

Sept. 30 - Bears: You know, I think this is kind of a tough call. Because the Lions tend to play the Bears closely at home, and really should've beaten them at least a couple of times recently at Ford Field. Yet Chicago always turns out to be better than I think, and Detroit typically finds a way to lose this one. LOSS

Oct. 7 @ Redskins: This is another one that could go either way because the Redskins seem to have no rhyme or reason to their team building, despite paying their coaching staff more than some NFL franchise pay their players. But this is a road game. And I think Gregg Williams' blitz-heavy schemes will make life miserable for Jon Kitna. LOSS

Oct. 14 Bye Week: Yeah, yeah, yeah - hey, at least the Lions didn't lose this week. Har. You should do an open mike night. But you'll probably also have to do that yard work you've been putting off. The leaves have been piling up. Or if you live in a condo or apartment, you could catch the new Farrelly brothers movie.

Oct. 21 - Buccaneers: Sure, Jeff Garcia could come in and stick it to the fans that (justifiably) thought he was absolute dog vomit and only on the roster because of Steve Mariucci's mancrush. But he could also get pounded like a rag doll and crushed into the Ford Field turf like ground-up tires. And though Jon Gruden is surely familiar enough with Rod Marinelli's defense to know how to beat it, I think Marinelli's familiarity with Gruden's schemes will trump that. WIN

Oct. 28 @ Bears: The only difference between this game and the Lions' last few visits to Soldier Field is that it's not scheduled two weeks into the season. LOSS

Nov. 4 - Broncos: To me, this is the toughest call on the schedule. The Broncos should've made the playoffs last year, and arguably have made the most notable improvements this off-season. And if you look at Denver's schedule, this could be a trap game, coming the week before a division match-up with the Chiefs. Once upon a time, you could count on the Lions to beat a better team at least once a season. Those days are long gone. LOSS

Nov. 11 @ Cardinals: But you can still count on the Lions to lose to an inferior team that they should absolutely beat, home or away. Sadly, that hasn't changed. LOSS

Nov. 18 - Giants: If Tom Coughlin hasn't already been fired by now, his job security will be obliterated after this game. The Lions' defense might actually make Eli Manning cry. This could be Detroit's most impressive win of the season. WIN

Nov. 22 - Packers: For yet another year, the greatest myth in all of Detroit sports - the idea that the Lions are somehow unbeatable on Thanksgiving Day - will continue to be debunked. Favre might actually gnaw on a turkey leg as he torches the Lions' secondary (which will avoid anonymity only because their names will be constantly mentioned as they're beaten for touchdowns throughout the season) for another 80-yard bomb. LOSS

Dec. 9 @ Vikings: Even if they don't split with Minnesota, the Lions sure as hell won't win this one. But I still think the Vikings could stink. LOSS

Dec. 16 - Cowboys: You might say that them Cowboys are itching for some Texas-style vengeance after the Lions embarrassed them in Dallas last year. Are you kidding me? The Lions own the Cowboys, dude. WIN

Dec. 23 - Chiefs: If Dick Vermeil was still Kansas City's coach, I'd almost say this was a guaranteed win for Detroit. Martz wouldn't sleep all week, trying to figure out ways to beat his former boss. But Herm Edwards is the coach now, and I think his head would explode if the Chiefs lost this game. Fortunately, I think brain matter cleans off the field turf just fine. Call the Lions butter, 'cuz they'll be on a roll! WIN

Dec. 30 @ Packers: This is the deal the Lions had to make to bring the Packers in on Thanksgiving. In return, they'll have to play a late December game at Lambeau Field in bone-chilling cold. Favre will be buying all the booze for his New Year's Eve party as he scorches the Lions' secondary for another 80-yard bomb. Oh, sweet merciful end. LOSS

So after counting all the blue words and red words, I have the Lions going 5-11. Technically, that is an improvement over last season, so all of you who think that they have to improve if for no other reason than they can't be worse should be absolutely correct. And though we've heard rumblings that Matt Millen could be done if the Lions don't finish .500 (and therein lies the true kernel of hope for Lions fans), you have to think he'll somehow be able to sell this whole improvement/making progress/it's so close to coming together thing to William Clay Ford yet again.

I'm sorry. For you. For me. For all of us. You might want to start reviewing prospects for the other NFL team you inevitably decide to root for early this year.

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  • At April 12, 2007 12:31 AM, Blogger Big Al said…

    One look at the Lions' schedule tells you that it's going to be an ugly season for the Lions. I realize that they (Probably) won't go 0-16, but I agree that 5 wins may be a generous assessment of the Lions chances.

    When does the fan revolt start this year?

  • At April 12, 2007 8:09 PM, Blogger twins15 said…

    I have a slightly more optimistic view for the Vikings than you do :), but it looks like a tough schedule for teams in the North. I have a feeling the division will be pretty mediocre again.

  • At April 13, 2007 9:45 AM, Anonymous Evan said…

    I just want to see the whole team fairly healthy. I have no pretentions that they'll be a Super Bowl contender, but as has been the case in years' past, they lead the league in injuries to starters and probably in total injuries and most likely in season ending injuries as well.

    (1) I do think they're fast enough to be decent if the guys can stay healthy. It's impossible to deny that the offense was potent at times and that when Shaun Rogers when in the line-up, the defense was at least effective against the run. I just want to see the whole Martz/Marinelli offense and defense playing together with healthy players for a few games, even if those healthy players are among the most thoroughly mediocre at their positions.

    (2) Even if they're not any good at all, the only way Millen goes is if he runs out of excuses. Take the injury bug one away, and one of the biggest crutches is gone.


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