On Detroit Lions’ 2-point conversions and the Michigan Wolverines championship hopes

Steve Brownlee

Oooh, I hate it when my head fills up with too many good ideas.

Mind you, it doesn’t happen often, so I’d like to save a few of those ideas for when my brain becomes as barren as the scalp you can see here above it.

First, I wanted to talk about Lions’ coach Dan Campbell going for the 2-point conversion at the end of last weekend’s game in Dallas.

But then on Monday, I also wanted to try to figure out who should be favored to win Monday’s College Football Playoff championship game between Michigan and Washington.

So I’ll do a little of both.

With the Lions, it immediately occurred to me — well, on either the second or third attempt at the 2-pointer — that going for the lead at that point in the game is totally the wrong strategy.

Let’s say the referees had let one of the three tries count. Here’s where we’d be — Detroit leading 21-20, 23 seconds remaining and the Cowboys taking the ensuing kickoff.

Win’s in the bag, eh?! Not so fast — chances are Dallas would’ve taken a knee on that kickoff, taking over at its own 25-yard-line with the same 23 seconds to go.

And C.D. Lamb slicing and dicing and making Julienne fries out of the Lions’ secondary like he had all game.

With I believe a couple timeouts remaining, quarterback Dak Prescott could’ve easily gotten off four passes, and with those timeouts, they didn’t all have to be along the sideline to get out of bounds.

As even Campbell plays prevent defense (don’t get me started on that subject!), all any Cowboys’ receiver would have to do is catch the ball thrown their way with no defenders around to break up these passes.

Then with 28-year-old rookie kicker Brandon Aubrey waiting on the sidelines, all Prescott would have to do is move his team 30 yards to get from his own 25 to the Detroit 45.

That would set up Aubrey for a 62- or 63-yard field goal, certainly a decent possibility as he’s already made a 60-yarder and seven others over 50 yards among a 37-for-37 season.

And Dallas would’ve thrown the baby, the bathwater and the kitchen sink into doing this, as they would have nothing left to lose except the game.

On the other hand, if Campbell had kicked the extra point, the game would’ve been tied when Dallas took over on its own 25 following the kickoff.

Prescott and coach Mike McCarthy would’ve been a whole lot more cautious, since any interception in their own end could either become a Lions’ pick-6 or set up Detroit for their own winning field goal.

Very likely that would’ve gotten the game to overtime, a lot better than ANOTHER 66-yard game-ending and game-winning field goal by the Ravens’ Justin Tucker back in Campbell’s first month along the Detroit sideline in 2021.

But I can’t leave you with that bad (or good for a lot of Packers’ fans) taste in your mouth.

So don’t I like the Wolverines chances on Monday night? Yes I do, and I’m not even a Michigan fan, though I have to admit I’m softening up in that direction, even withstanding this scandal-plagued fall.

I don’t see Washington’s defense as being any great shakes, kinda like the Wolverines’ offense, and despite U of M’s stout defense, Huskies QB Michael Penix has got to make you nervous as a Michigan fan.

Although I didn’t get to watch the Sugar Bowl, it sure sounded like he was the difference maker, completing 29 of 38 passes for 430 yards and two touchdowns.

He also defeated Michigan when he was at Indiana in 2020, but that was the pandemic year when the Wolverines were down with all the weirdness that fall.

I think he’s probably better than he was then, but definitely, the Wolverines’ defense is a LOT better than theirs was then.

He’ll probably slice up Michigan for more points than Alabama got, but remember that was a Crimson Tide weakness. Washington doesn’t have the defense that Alabama had.

And with Washington playing a lot of close games in what is a good, but necessarily great Pac-12, I’ll still take the Wolverines. Oh, you want a score? How about 34-27, though this is only an “exhibition” prediction!

Now onto Week 18 of the NFL:


Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore — This year’s Week 18 theme apparently is sit your quarterback. The Ravens aren’t playing Lamar Jackson, and he’s MVP for a reason — they look like a completely different team without him. That plus Pittsburgh is playing for its playoff lives while Baltimore is sitting back in its toga eating grapes. I’ll take the Steelers, 30-20.


Saturday, 8:15 p.m.

Houston at Indianapolis — I’m sure this was the NFL’s second choice to move into the Sunday night slot, since this game’s winner gets in the playoffs as either a wild card, of if Jacksonville flubs it Sunday, the AFC South champion.

I don’t really care what their score was the first time they met — though I see that Indy won 31-20 on Sept. 17 — I only care if C.J. Stroud will be playing as Houston QB. I’m assured he’s supposed to finally be out of the concussion protocol, which makes this team a darkhorse along with Cleveland to get to the Super Bowl. Texans, 33-23.


Sunday, 1 p.m.

Tampa Bay at Carolina — I don’t see a Tampa choke with Baker Mayfield at the helm. He may not be that great, his team may not be that great, but with a playoff berth on the line, I have confidence he’ll play his best and get his team to play its best. And that certainly should be enough against the league’s worst team. Buccaneers, 31-19.


Cleveland at Cincinnati — Week 18, part deux: Fountain of Youth QB Joe Flacco isn’t playing this week for the Browns. That puts them in preseason mode, so I’ll take the Bengals, 27-20.


Minnesota at Detroit — This is a scary one if you’re trying to pick the Lions, who only have the No. 2 vs. No. 3 playoff seed to play for. But I caught part of Campbell’s Monday or Tuesday press conference where he called the Cowboys’ loss a “blessing” in disguise, so counting on their players not wanting to be confronted by their coach’s “controlled fury” and “pure octane,” let’s go with the Lions, 24-21.


New York Jets at New England — Can you imagine how hard it would be to walk if you actually had two left feet? Well, me thinks the Patriots’ offense has THREE left feet. Talk about tripping … and fumbling … and throwing interceptions. Jets, 26-19.


Atlanta at New Orleans — Both have some semblance of the playoffs, just needing one or two other teams to lose and either one of them winning. So I’ll just judge this on each team. The Falcons have been stumbling, which could help the sometimes exotic offensive weapons that New Orleans can present. Saints, 23-20.


Jacksonville at Tennessee — Jacksonville QB Trevor Lawrence finally missed a game due to the multiple injuries he’s dealt with this season, so one whole week off should put a spring in his step as I see he was throwing in practice on Thursday. With everything to play for, I’ll take the Jaguars, 33-29.


Sunday, 4:25 p.m.

Chicago at Green Bay — Well, I’m pretty much going to call this my “duck, duck, GOOSE” game, because I can’t see every team that needs a win getting it. And guess which team I’m landing on? With the Packers’ defense in shambles, even though they’re at home, I see Justin Fields putting together a last-gasp, game-winning drive for the Bears, 36-33.


Philadelphia at New York Giants — Maybe I should rethink the duck-duck-goose thing, because this seems like another playoff team ripe for the picking. Hey, there’s no law saying you can’t cook two gooses — geese? — in the same pot. Giants, 21-16.


Dallas at Washington — Ooh, it’s sorely tempting to squeeze in three straight geese in a row, but nah, the Commanders are just too dysfunctional for that. Cowboys, 34-14.


Seattle at Arizona — This one looks juicy, but Seattle has enough going for it as it tries to knock Green Bay out of the playoffs for the second straight year (well, last year, the Lions actually completed the deed). Seahawks, 31-27.


Denver at Las Vegas — As Vegas is at home and its players are still trying to get Antonio Pierce the permanent head coaching job, they seem like they have the better motivation. Raiders, 29-23.


Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco — Neither team is playing its regular QB, so this will be San Fran’s Sam Darnold vs. the Rams’ Carson Wentz. Ooh, sign me up to watch this one! 49ers, 24-20.


Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers — The Chargers couldn’t even get the “bounce” right after head coach Brandon Staley was fired — you’re supposed to win your next game. Just keep me away from this radioactive squad. Chiefs, 33-22.


Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

Buffalo at Miami — In the same way that Buffalo doesn’t have a climate advantage in upstate New York in September, I don’t think the Dolphins do either in south Florida in January. What Miami does have is a lot of injuries, and I see nothing dissuading me from how Buffalo has found new life since it replaced its offensive coordinator at midseason. Bills, 33-29.


Last week — 12-4, 75 percent. Season — 161-95, 63 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 552. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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