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Lions could make some noise
November 2, 2010 - Keith Shelton
The Lions have been better than expected this season, but in the harsh reality of the NFL it hasn't paid off like it should have.
Detroit is sitting at 2-5. Incidently, that's the same record as the Minnesota Vikings who were favored to play in the Superbowl in the preseason. The season isn't lost at 2-5. Minnesota doesn't believe that, and neither does Detroit.
If you've followed the Lions press conferences, you've no doubt chuckled at the comments from Lions players about how the playoffs weren't out of reach. No one blinks when the Vikings players make that comment, but we laugh, because it's the Lions. The Lions of 0-16, the Lions of Matt Millen and Joey Harrington, the Lions of two playoff wins since 1956.
Lions fans in their delusional fantasy world always like to think that things are getting better, and it is getting to be that time that comes around every year around this time, known as wishing day in Detroit. The day where the Lions are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and fans everywhere start looking at the 2011 draft board.
But this year there is actually real evidence to point to that shows the team is going in the right direction. Maybe Detroit won't be mathematically eliminated before Thanksgiving this year. Maybe they'll make a run at seven or eight wins. It's possible.
Why? Because Martin Mayhew knows what he's doing. Where his predecessor obsessed over one of the least valuable positions on the field (wide receiver) Mayhew has focused on the defensive line.
The Lions secondary is still bad. There's no doubt about it. But they haven't looked as bad as they are on paper, because the defensive line has done an effective job.
Against Washington, they sacked Donovan McNabb seven times. Seven! It's things like this that is making new cornerback Alphonso Smith's season. Smith was a Denver Broncos outcast. The Lions got him for virtually nothing and he's playing like a pro bowler. His success comes from the D-line's ability to put pressure on the quarterback.
Detroit is 2-5. Imagine for just a moment if the referees actually got the call on Calvin Johnson in game one right. Imagine if Matthew Stafford didn't separate his shoulder in that same game, missing the next six weeks. Now imagine if the Lions won just one of their ridiculously close losses. Maybe the Philadelphia game.
Detroit could easily be 4-3 right now. They should be 3-4 at least.
The Lions won't be favored against the New York Jets. They should keep it close, being that they're at home, but we'll chalk it up to a loss to be safe. From there, Detroit has a real chance to win all their remaining games with the exception of New England on Thanksgiving.
It doesn't matter that they'll be going on the road to face Dallas and Buffalo. Those two teams are so inept right now, it should be virtual cakewalk for Detroit and their attacking D-line, even if the Lions have lost 24 straight away from home.
Chicago, Green Bay, and Minnesota coming to Detroit towards the end of the season could easily amount to two more wins for the Lions if not three. All three NFC North opponents have glaring problems right now, and the Lions have played well in front of their home crowd.
Seven wins is a distinct possibility. Eight if everything goes right, which we won't count on. After all, it is the Lions. Still, improvement is being made and as soon as next season, Detroit could be a contender.
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