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Detroit Lions Are Righting Ship at the Right Time: A Fan’s Take
The Detroit Lions looked like a different team on Saturday against the San Diego Chargers; they looked like the Lions that we watched play for the first two months of the season. Detroit didn't have a good finish to November with a Ndamukong Suh suspension and critics, including myself, questioning the quality of gamesmanship occurring in the motor city.
It only took one week for the Detroit Lions to make me eat my words. Last week's critique was taken well by everyone who read it, as noted in the comments section.
Call it a midseason lull or drought or rough patch. Whatever you decide to name it, the Lions have returned to their earlier form in the closing weeks of the season. A win today solidified a playoff spot; the first since 1999. It's been 12 years since the Lions faithful have witnessed a postseason in Detroit.
No matter the first round opponent, a playoff appearance automatically qualifies this season as a success. 2008 witnessed the first 0-16 season in the NFL. Three years later, a winning record is the most expected from such a young, talented team.
With an impressive win over a surging San Diego Chargers team, there are only two concerns the Lions will face in the postseason.
The running game is non-existent, but with the way Matthew Stafford and the Lions passing game is operating, running doesn't seem to matter much. There are some tough defenses on the NFC side of the playoff scenarios so we can only hope the Lions' success continues into the playoffs.
Secondly, and may be most critical, is the lack of postseason experience and experience overall. The Lions are a young team. A large number of players have never witnessed a postseason firsthand and are only a few years into their professional careers.
Looking at playoff experience, the Lions will be at a disadvantage against all the teams they'll be competing against in the NFC. Currently, the five other teams expected to join Detroit in the playoffs are the New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.
The Lions played all five teams in the regular season, compiling a discouraging record of 1-4.
Media coverage will be the twelfth man playing against the Lions this year. With Detroit making the playoffs for the first time in a dozen years, the media is going to enhance everything the Lions do, good and bad, between now and kickoff of their wild card game.
That type of hyper-coverage could have a negative effect on such a young team. Jim Schwartz should try isolating his team a bit from the media hype by taking the blunt of the questioning and attention. That way the team can focus on the game itself and not so much on the success of the regular season.
When the regular season ends, a team's record goes back to 0-0.
The Lions need to play the entire game like there are down 14 points in the 4th. If they play with that controlled chip on their shoulder like they did at the beginning of the season and today against San Diego, Detroit has a chance to make waves in the playoffs.
The postseason road is long and treacherous for the young Lions. Because of the team's history and youth of the players, the Lions will be eternal underdogs.
They have the pieces they need to succeed, now and more so in the future. The thought of having LeShoure and Best healthy for a whole season is already making Lions fans excited about next season's potential. But first, the Lions have a chance to play, and win, in this year's postseason. Let the real games begin.
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