Let me back on the Detroit Lions bandwagon!
I had one foot out the door, but I kept the other in the door jamb of the Detroit Lions’ bandwagon.
I’m glad I did now, after threatening to jump ship and root against the Motor City Pussycats right in this space five weeks ago on Sept. 23. At that point, they were 0-2 after ugly losses to Chicago and Green Bay.
I was going to root for them to go 0-16 if it became apparent that only a horrid season like that would be what it would take to get head coach Matt Patricia and probably general manager Bob Quinn fired.
Now the Lions have improved to 3-3 and are threatening to become the most successful — by winning percentage — pro sports team in Detroit during the past year.
Of course, that’s a bar that’s been set pretty low — the Detroit Tigers were 23-35 (.397 winning percentage) in a season that wrapped up a month ago, the Pistons were 20-46 (.303) after they weren’t invited to the NBA bubble in the summer, and the Red Wings were 17-49-5 (that’s actually 17 wins, 54 losses, .239) after things ended for them in March with by far the NHL’s worst record.
For the Lions to equal the best of that lot, the Tigers, they would need 6.35 wins, or in other words a 6-9-1 record, or more likely 7-9.
You say, Huh! No way! And I see why you would say that, especially if you’re a Green Bay Packers fan. Detroit sure was a pushover in a 42-21 rout during Week 2 in Packerland.
But after this Sunday’s home game against 4-2 Indianapolis, certainly a winnable game, look at the Lions’ next four games — all are against teams with losing records. In other words, teams looking up at Detroit.
Next week, there’s a game at 1-5 Minnesota, a team vying with Atlanta for Underachievers of the Year. Then there’s 2-5 Washington at home, at 3-4 Carolina and 1-6 Houston at home for Thanksgiving.
Considering that the Lions had to receive an early Christmas gift to beat 1-6 Atlanta last weekend, no opponent — well, maybe the Jets if they were on their radar — should be taken for granted.
And also, the four games following the upcoming puddy-tat month are against 5-2 Chicago, 5-1 Green Bay, 5-1 Tennessee and 5-2 Tampa Bay.
So if the Lions are only, say, 5-6 — which would mean a 2-3 record against these pushovers plus Indy — Patricia & Quinn, Esq., will probably get their heads handed to them in December.
Hey, I’m just trying to keep my — and the Lions’ — options open.
All I can say is that it must be boring to be a Packers fan. It’s like you know who your coach is going to be from year to year.
So I better make my picks before I get sleepy thinking how easy it is to root for Green Bay.
By the way, there’s two changes to this week’s schedule — the Jacksonville at Los Angeles Chargers game has been replaced with the Chargers at Denver, while another game was added, Pittsburgh at Baltimore:
Today, 8:20 p.m.
Atlanta at Carolina — I don’t see Carolina needing a mental error by Atlanta to pull this one out, just some good passing by QB Teddy Bridgewater against the leaky Falcons defense. Panthers, 34-27.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore — There’s one undefeated team left — the Steelers. That makes the Ravens a tempting pick until I noticed the only quality win Baltimore has is in Week 1 over Cleveland, when the Browns still couldn’t get out of their own way. Gotta go with the Steelers, 27-23.
New England at Buffalo — Among the many criticisms of the Patriots I’ve heard recently is that they have no team speed. Then won’t Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen just be able to run circles around the New England defense if he’s not competent enough to complete a pass? Bills, 30-21.
Tennessee at Cincinnati — Tennessee should be especially ramped up after blowing a chance at a win against the Steelers last weekend on a missed field goal. Titans, 33-20.
Las Vegas at Cleveland — To me, this seems like the kind of game Vegas can win, going up against a team that often is not very well buttoned up. Raiders, 35-20.
Indianapolis at Detroit — I don’t like this matchup for Detroit — Indy can play defense, and the Lions’ defense will make Indy QB Philip Rivers finally not look 75 years old anymore. Colts, 29-23.
Minnesota at Green Bay — With the way this season has turned out, the Vikings’ 43-34 loss in Week 1 is just about that team’s season highlight. Their lone win was 31-23 over Houston. Green Bay would’ve been disappointed with that score last week against the Texans. Packers, 36-24.
New York Jets at Kansas City — If tiebreaker rules were based on points scored, the Chiefs would have incentive to get to 90 points — by halftime. They’re not, and KC knows this is a real cupcake. Closer than you’d think, Chiefs, 30-24.
Los Angeles Rams at Miami — This is a trap game for the Rams, beating NFC challenger Chicago on Monday night, then turning around to play on the East Coast at what is 10 a.m. Pacific time. Still, this L.A. group seems to be getting a head of steam and knows to avoid the noose that’s set in the trap. Rams, 24-20.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver — The fortunes of these teams have been looking up lately, so which will get their hopes dashed? Well, Denver got shellshocked by the Chiefs last weekend, so let’s say their confidence is at least momentarily shattered. Chargers, 27-19.
New Orleans at Chicago — The Saints give up piles of points, so Chicago’s offense can rebound after getting roughed up by the Rams on Monday night. Bears, 23-17.
San Francisco at Seattle — The Seahawks’ defense got exposed by Arizona, and the 49ers are ready to rev up their engines. 49ers, 27-23.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Dallas at Philadelphia — Oooh, a dogfight for first place in the NFC East. Otherwise known as the first team to get to three wins by Week 8. Eagles, 44-31.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
Tampa Bay at New York Giants — Boy, the only thing worse than two NFC East teams playing each other in prime time (see Sunday night) is one NFC East team playing a real professional team. Go to bed at halftime of this one. Buccaneers, 37-10.
Last week — 9-5, 64 percent. Season — 66-38-1, 63 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.