Monday, September 26, 2011

Shut Up and Enjoy It

When Jason Hanson split the uprights on Sunday, I didn't see the team rush the field nor Jim Schwartz's patented fist pump-mother effer combination. I was too busy with fist-pumps of my own. I was too busy high-fiving every thing around me with a hand. I was too busy "woo"-ing and shouting unintelligibles like I was possessed by a jubilant poltergeist. I was too busy ENJOYING IT.

By the time I had caught my breath and come down to Earth, my friends were mumbling something about the Bills and their fantasy teams, but my head was filled with so many incredible, unfamiliar thoughts that it was hard for me to focus. I sat back in my chair, exhaled and checked my computer to join in the virtual fun.

I was not pleased with what I saw.

Sure there were plenty of e-fans going crazy and taking in the moment, but it wasn't long before the hate-patrol stormed in and tried to rain, sleet, hail and piss on our parade. It might not have been much, but in-between every "Holy Crap!" or "'Lions 3-0' is trending on twitter!" tweet and IM there was the intermittent "Jeff Backus is terrible", "We may be 3-0, but we have no o-line or running game". I get it, Backus Haters. It's the one week a year in which your favorite argument actually has some merit to it. Enjoy it, but stay the hell away from me.

Then the "professionals" started at it. Always first in line for a fresh warm glass of Hateraide, Rob Parker and his stupid face had to butt in:
You know what's sad, Rob Parker? When an ESPN "analyst" (yeah, I just double-ironically quotation-marked you) goes out of his way to insult the fan-base that ran his extremely unprofessional ass out of town. What's sad is someone who has so little joy in their life that they have to squash the happy moments of others to try and offset those lonely nights spent crying in mirrors.

The Lions are 3-0 for the first time in my existence and I want to celebrate, damnit. And if someone wants to throw a freakin parade, I'll march in front as the drum major. I've spent so many years as the statue that I'm going to revel in my days as the pigeon, even if they're numbered (which they aren't).

That being said, I'm glad that the players are taking the "play like you've been there before" attitude. They're not paid to go 3-0, they're paid to go to the playoffs. They're paid to go to Super Bowls. If they started throwing parades, it would be panned by everyone, become a distraction, and likely hurt the team.

But my pathology and mindset will have no affect on the team. I'm not getting paid to win. In fact, I have spent a lot of money supporting this team. So, excuse me, if I decide to spend a couple happy hours when my investment finally starts to pay off. When your team has just completed a 20-point comeback in a venue they haven't won at since 1997 to become 3-0 for the first time in 30 years, it's not pathetic to scream, yell, TYPE IN CAPS, or even over-punctuate!!!1! It's sad that some people can't stop and enjoy those moments because they're too busy criticizing others.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pop The Champagne: 3-0

My version of mgoblog's muppets:


Friday, September 23, 2011

Week 3 Itinerary: Lions vs. Vikings

It's Friday, which means it's time again to get you prepared for this week's Lions matchup.  The Lions are facing a more-dangerous-than-they-look Vikings team.  Here's what you need to read to get yourself prepped and informed for the game.

My Stuff:

On Paper: As always, I use statistics to break down the matchup and provide a final score prediction.  Check it out here.

Break it Down: I also broke down a run defense adjustment the Lions made against the Chiefs last week. If you like the Xs and Os of football, you should click here.

Stuff Better Than Mine:

Holy Schwartz! A new blog that has a more-than-promising start. Nate Washuta offers a bunch of cool breakdowns and graphs analyzing both the Lions and their opponents.  Check out his article on slowing down the Vikings this week.

Vikings' Offense and Defense breakdowns: A staple of this feature, Latif kills it again with a breakdown of the Vikings' Offense and Defense.

Time For The Moving Pictures: This Week, Great Moments in Lions/Vikings History:

Come on, now.  It was week two.  We aren't supposed to go completely insane until at least the bye week.

This man is a hero. Take it from someone who is in desperate need of a free haircut

Okay, not technically a Lions/Vikings moment, but aside from the cheap shot 
at Detroit's expense at the end, this might be the greatest video ever. 

Enjoy the game. Go Lions.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Torment of a Blowout

The day after a 45-point beatdown is something I'm not used to nor comfortable with. Don't get me wrong, yesterday was awesome. I gleefully watched as the Lions absolutely dismantled the Chiefs and I even got to celebrate the win with a Detroit-style Coney and a Faygo. I hadn't had that much fun watching a game since the Lions destroyed the Broncos 44-7 in 2007 to put themselves at 6-2 for the year. Of course, the Lions followed up that game with seven losses in eight games. Maybe that's why I feel so uneasy today.

There's an internal struggle going on, that I know many other fans are going through, as well. On one hand, I'm a little disappointed with the play of the Lions. They gave up 100 yards rushing in a quarter. The had two three-and-outs in their first three offensive possessions.  Stafford made some poor decisions and got bailed out several times.

Then there's the other half of me that is telling the first half of me to shut the hell up.  Hey other half, did you see this?

Not convinced? Now about this?

(note: I know it looks like these two videos are the same, and they are, smartass, but they start at different plays. Now don't you feel like a fool for doubting me? Send your apologies to

3rd and 24, dude.
Yeah, but...
He caught it with his freaking legs, man.  AND he's a rookie.
Our run defense, though....
Did you even see that throw?
Well, it was pretty good.
I don't wanna
Please don't make me...
and I'm sorry.
Yes, you are.

It wasn't always like this.  Back in the days of the "same ole' Lions", my split-personalities were in complete harmony.  The Lions were losing, which satisfied the pessimist in me, but there was always the promise of the future, which kept my optimistic half alive.  But, now, with "the future" having arrived, my pessimistic self can't help but rear it's ugly head where it doesn't belong. I'm like an abused dog. No matter how nurturing this new home is, I can't help but have random episodes of spazzing out and scuttling under tables.

It's starting to wear off, but I'm just not there yet. For every highlight-reel play, there's an equal and opposite fear in my head. For every opposing quarterback battered, there's the worry that our opponent's aren't what we thought they were. After every forced punt, I question why we couldn't have made it a three-and-out.

And it isn't a case of non-believing. I know this team is different. I know we have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. I know this defense is light-years better that it has been in at least a decade. Call it the whispering of failure demons, call it The Curse of Bobby Lane, or call it straight pessimism, but I can't shake the feeling of impending doom.

The Lions haven't played their best football yet. There are two ways my clearly-damaged brain can process this bit of information: I can conclude that maybe the Lions aren't as good as I really think they are, or I can deduce that the Lions have arrived and will be a top-tier team when they play their best football.

I'm really, really trying to believe the latter.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Week 2 Itinerary

Alright, I had a busy week around the interwebs. So here's a taste of my stuff:

On Paper: My weekly collumn previewing the Chiefs game with a bunch of stats.

Preview at Chiefs Command: I was generously asked to preview the game over at Chiefs Command. I try to give Chiefs fans some hope.

Break it Down: I also broke down the Lions' 4th down conversion against the Bucs over at Pride Of Detroit.

Stuff Better Than Mine:

  • Latif does another amazing job breaking down the Chiefs Offense and Defense at PoD. If you're a fan of Xs and Os, check out the defense article. Really cool stuff.
  • Over at Arrowhead Pride, the Chief fans discuss who they would steal from the Lions' roster. The comment section is both interesting and flattering.

Gratuitous Video time!

Chiefs fans:

The good:
I'm a sucker for old men dancing to contemporary music.
Throw a luchador mask into the mix and this video is exponentially better.
However, announcing "YOUTUBE!" while recording a video is bad form. Watch yourself, Chiefs fan.

The Bad (naughty words ahead):
I've been there, man. Though I don't think I've ever called someone a fat-ass during a tirade.

The Unforgivably Ugly:

You're welcome, America.
Go Lions.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lions Spells Relief

Saturday night, I watched through my own fingers as my alma mater, the University of Michigan, eked out the Irish in an all-time classic. When the final seconds ticked off and the disbelief faded, I was left with a sense of relief.  The Wolverines had stolen a game from their rivals, despite being down 14 points before they had even earned a first down.  That sense of relief was refreshing as it washed away the insufferable fury of the previous three hours.  But that relief was short-lived.  Soon the memory of the team’s shortcomings seeped into my head.  I realized that while we had escaped with a win, in the battles ahead, we wouldn't see such good fortunes.

Sunday night, the feeling was much different.  Though my heart was filled with relief, it was a much different strain of relief.  The relief wasn’t rooted in the fact that the Detroit Lions won the game, I felt that game was over (or at least should have been) midway through the second quarter.  The relief stemmed from all of the expectations and hype from the offseason.  Though I tried to keep it subdued, the excitement of watching this team build in the offseason was setting expectations at a height that I never thought I’d see three years ago.  The fact that those expectations seem to be at least somewhat realistic now that the first game has been played, is a truly freeing feeling.

Of course, I don’t want to overstate the significance of one win, and there were some troubling signs throughout the game.  But the moment Matthew Stafford marched down the field on a 12-play drive and the defense followed it up by forcing a three-and-out*, I knew this was a team that could really do something this year.

With the offense, there was little question in my mind that everything we saw in the preseason was real.  I would have been shocked if Stafford had looked like a rookie out there or if his weapons had turned out to be less lethal than previously indicated.  The defense, however, was the wild-card.  Though the offense is the strength of this team, if the Lions want to make that big step towards contender, they have to show they have a respectable and threatening defense.  If Sunday is any sign, the Lions could be playing well into January this year. 

I can’t say enough about how pleasantly surprised I was with the Lions secondary.  Chris Houston played Mike Williams just about as good as anyone could have reasonably expected (three passes defended and an INT).  Spievey never looked to be out of position and led the team in tackles. 

The biggest worry I had after the preseason was the run defense.  The Lions were somewhat porous in the preseason and LaGarrette Blount gashed them last year, but Sunday he was a complete non-factor.  The tackling on this team seems infinitely improved from last year, and that will be huge throughout the year.

Though the Lions are only 1-0, it seems like they’ve accomplished much more than that.  Too often the Lions had been hyped up by fans and analysts alike, only to fail and disappoint.  I always had a sneaking suspicion that this year may be different, but, like any reasonable fan, I also feared that I was falling into the same trap.  Sunday’s win represented the first time in awhile that the Lions met expectations, and I’m going enjoy that relief for a couple days.

*I don't really know if you can consider a possession with no first downs that ends in a FG a "three-and-out", but you get my point.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Week 1 Itinerary: What You Need to Read/See Before Lions/Bucs

This is a weekly column I just made up in my head this morning to get you ready for the Lions' matchup every week.  It features must-read, or must-see snippets from the internet.  Full disclosure: this also serves as a method of self-promotion, so I apologize for that in advance.

My Stuff:

  • First check out my Schedule Breakdown to see the Lions' chances in each game this season. 
  • Head on over to Pride Of Detroit to check out season predictions of myself and three other writers there.
  • Finally, my "On Paper" previews are back and at Pride Of Detroit.  Head on over there for this week's installment.
Stuff Better Than Mine:

  • Ty's Watchtower previews are always must-read, even if there's not a ton of data to go on.  I don't think I've ever seen a preview like it.
  •  Neil at Armchair Linebacker kills it, as always, in his Bucs/Season preview.
  • Latif, now fellow-writer at Pride Of Detroit, does an excellent job breaking down the Bucs' Offense and Defense.
Gratuitous Videos for Pumping-up Purposes:


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Schedule Analysis: Breaking Down the Lions 2011 Opponents

We're day away from the beginning of Week 1 and so I think its more than acceptable to look at the Detroit Lions schedule and start pondering final records.  I'm not going to count wins, but rather categorize games by the likelihood of a Lions victory.

Much has been said about the difficulty of the Lions schedule this year, and there's a lot of truth to that, but when breaking down the schedule, you may be surprised to see how many of these games are not only winnable, but games that the Lions should win.

Should Wins:

Week 6 vs. SF
I can never really pin down the 49ers.  They always seem to have a great player or two, but always suffer from the same flaws, usually starting behind center.  They're just a team I never pay much attention to, and usually for good reason.  I have a friend who occasionally asks me how I think the 49ers will do this year, and I almost always answer, "I don't pay much attention to AFC teams", before realizing they're in the pathetic NFC West.

Frank Gore and Patrick Willis won't be enough this year.

Week 8 @ Denver
I watched a couple preseason games of the Broncos this year (mostly out of Tim Tebow curiosity) and I have to say, they look awful.  Their offense is uninspiring with Kyle Orton, Brandon Lloyd and Knowshon Moreno leading the charge.

Defensively, Denver has a couple solid pass-rushers in Elvis Dumerville and Von Miller, but not much beyond that.  Stafford stays upright, and the Lions run away with this one.

Week 9: Bye Week
Oh man, it's going to be so awesome when a friend of mine doesn't say to me, "Hey, at least the Lions didn't lose this week!" You suck, hypothetical friend.  I should stop hypothetically hanging out with you.

Week 11 vs. Carolina
Not going to spend a lot of time arguing this one.  The Panthers are one of the worst teams in the NFL and Cam Newton isn't going to make them much better.  It's unfortunate they were basically forced into drafting him.  The Lions need to make sure they win games like these with ease.

Week 14 vs. Minnesota
Minnesota no longer has that quarterback and that really may be enough reason to believe the Lions can sweep Minnesota this year.  They controlled the season finale against the Vikings last year, with Joe Webb as quarterback.  Unfortunately for Minnesota, that guy wasn't the only significant roster loss.  Perhaps just as devastating was the loss of Sidney Rice to free agency.  Even with Donovan Mcnabb behind center and Adrian Peterson in the backfield, the Viking's offense just isn't that intimidating.  They'll have a very tough time keeping up with the Lions offense.

Lions slight edge:

Week 1 @Tampa
Tampa is a team very much like the Lions.  A young, promising quarterback and a strong defensive line on the other side of the ball.  The two faced each other last year, with the Lions coming out on top in overtime.  There will be two major differences in this year's matchup: Matthew Stafford and Aqib Talib.  Both were sidelined due to injuries last year.

While the Bucs are definitely a team on the upswing, nothing about them blows me away.  Josh Freeman is a solid quarterback, but his biggest weapon isn't his harm, but his strength.  Last year, he avoided what could've been numerous sacks, but failed to kill the Lions with his arm.  The Bucs' running game was much more dangerous last year, but Detroit's improved linebackers should slow them down.

Week 3 @ Min
Minnesota's defense is still strong, which is why this game isn't a slam dunk.  It doesn't help that the Lions haven't won in the Metrodome since 1997.

Week 5 vs. Chicago
I believe the Lions are better than the Bears.  I really, really do.  The Bears' defense is likely better, as long as they can escape the injury bug, yet again.  And, say what you will about Mike Martz, I really think he's 10% "Mad" and 90% "Scientist".  But despite the fact that I think the Bears are a top-half-of-the-league team, when I picture this matchup I can only imagine of one thing: crushed Cutler.

Oh yeah, it's the Monday Night Football game, too.  Consider Hank Williams Jr.'s musical intro as your harmonious eulogy, Jay Cutler.

Week 15 @ Oakland
I will be attending this game, and while I expect to see my Lions come home with a win, I will likely spend the majority of my time focused on not getting shot or stabbed.

I'm very tempted to put this game under "should win", but Oakland is a team that deserves much better than all the jokes at their expense.  They actually have a pretty solid foundation of a team, but lack the superstars to put them in the elite of the league. Darren McFadden is on his way, but not there yet.  Obviously, the Lions benefit HUGE from the loss of Nnamdi Asomugha, but the Raiders still have talent on defense in Kamerion Wimbley and Richard Seymour.  Still, a loss here would be a disappointment.


Week 2 vs. KC
Kansas City is one of those teams that you forget went 10-6 and won their division over San Diego last year. Matt Cassel took a big step in development after a disappointing 2009 season.  Unfortunately for him, he will be taking orders from his third offensive coordinator in as many years.  He still has Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles with him, and that's enough to be somewhat fearful of KC's offense

If there's a team that can slow down Detroit's electric offense, it just may be the Chiefs.  They bolster a strong, young defensive line and have a great cornerback duo playing behind them: Brandon Flowers and Brandon Car.

Week 4 @ Dal
Some may be surprised to see a team that played so poorly in 2010 in the toss-up category.  But let's not forget that this Cowboys team was one of the few teams that beat Detroit pretty handily last year.  Dallas' offense may be just as potent as the Lions this year, especially when Tony Romo is behind center. Plus Dallas has DeMarcus Ware, who should send chills down every Lions' fans shoulder at mere mention of his name.

Week 10 @ Chicago
As I said earlier, I think the Lions are a better team, but a November game at Soldier Field is a crap-shoot*.  The Lions will likely be playing on a surface similar to a sponge after it's been used on Najeh Davenport's apartment.

Lions Slight Underdog:
Week 7 vs. ATL
I have had constant nightmares of the Atlanta offense ever since they destroyed the Lions 2008 season seven minutes into week one. After the first quarter was tainted by a 62-yard pass TD and a 66-yard rush TD, the other three quarters and the following 15 losses were just a blur.

Atlanta hasn't really slowed down since.  Matt Ryan remains a top-10 quarterback, though he wasn't absolutely dominant last year.  Many analysts are using the cliche "The Falcons are going 'all in' this year".  Most of this speculation is due to the fact they spent multiple draft picks to get rookie WR Julius Jones. Indeed, Jones paired with Roddy White combine to make a potentially insane duo.

Atlanta also went big on the defensive side of the ball, swiping up DE Ray Edwards from free agency.  I do see this team vastly improved from their 2010 season, but I'm not sure I see them making a Super Bowl run.

Week 12 vs. GB
Not much to this one.  When you put the two teams' rosters side-by-side, there is no question Green Bay has more talent.  Stafford and Calvin are countered with Rodgers and Jennings.  Detroit's elite pass rush is matched by a Green Bay team that had three more sacks than them last year.  And there's no comparing the two teams' secondary.

But Detroit hung with them in both contests last year and there's no denying the Lions are better this year.  Should be a great two-game series.

Week 16 vs. SD
I might be showing my homerism here by not placing this in the "should lose" category.  Though they didn't make the playoffs last year, the Chargers were first in offensive yards, and first in yards allowed.  They found some truly inspiring ways to lose games last year.  I personally witnessed their meltdown against the Patriots, and I'm still convinced the guy that works the scoreboard added some points to the Patriots while no one was looking.

San Diego is one of the best teams in the league, but this'll be a great chance for the Lions to show how much better they've become since the last time the two played and the Lions got thoroughly embarassed.

Should lose:
Week 13 @NO
I like the Saints this year.  A lot.  They rid themselves of players that they're likely better without (Jeremy Shockey, Reggie Bush) and added players who will no doubt add strength to the team's previous weaknesses (Shaun Rogers, Mark Ingram).  By the way, if you don't think Shaun Rogers still has it, please watch this, then immediately send your condolences to the Boller family.

Throw in Drew Brees, Sean Peyton and one of the toughest venues in the NFL and you've got yourself a steady climb.

Week 17 @GB
Above analysis plus no wins in Lambeau since 1991 equals a likely loss. Good news is this will either be a meaningless game for the Packers or the most important game the Lions have played in over a decade.

The outlooks is surprisingly bright, and records like 11-5 and 10-6 are definitely not out of the question.  However, with the amount of luck involved in winning an NFL game, I could easily see the record going in the other direction, with 7-9 just as likely.  The one thing that I am certain of, however, is that the Lions will be in every game they play this season.  The same can't be said for their opponents.