Well, the NFL preseason is over, and despite all the news some football did get played. My Lions went 2-2 on the preseason, winning the first two, losing to the Super Bowl defending champ Colts, and then not ceasing a close Bills game. Next up, Oakland Raiders in California. Roger Goodell has taken the spotlight away from the game in the preseason (and before) and rightly so. He is sending a strong message, although a little mixed in the Vick case, and continues to do so. He insists the NFL be THE sport all others are measured up against in all facets. It is about time someone took responsibility and cleaned up a pro sports league in America. So far only Golf has a cast of morale and decent athletes to whom controversy is seen as just bad manners by most people.
From Tank Johnson to Michael Vick the path has made headlines while the actual game took back seat. Of course its preseason and the games doesn’t mean jack, and are only there to put the rookies through their paces, rub the rust off the vets, and work the kinks out of the new playbooks and evaluate the coaching staff’s performance. Well boys and girls those days are behind us now and the focus has to shift away from crashing Lamborghinis into light poles and coaches getting suspended for obtaining and taking banned substances, no matter the lame reasons given. Fall is here, temps are dropping, harvests are being brought in off the fields, the moon is bigger, and sound of plastic colliding and men grunting under physical combat raises in the air from high-school grid irons to college and pro arenas alike. It is football season and all the hype and distractions of the preseason need to stop as put up or shut up time is here.
The Lions have a mediocre schedule, but one I predict will see more losses then wins. Yea, I know historically this is a safe assumption to make, but Detroit can not have a .500 season this year, their schedule it too aggressive for a rebuilding team. Of these I am making my predictions, realistically less optimistic then Jon Kitna (I can afford to be as I am not the offensive leader trying to spark optimism and confidence), and here they are:
- Oakland, win
- Minnesota, win
- Eagles, loss
- Chicago, loss
- Washington, win
- Tampa Bay, win (after a bye week)
- Chicago, loss and just because
- Denver, loss
- Arizona, win
- New York, loss
- Green Bay, win
- Minnesota, loss
- Dallas, loss
- San Diego, loss
- Kansas City, loss
- Green Bay, loss (its at Lambeau)
There you have it, 6 and 10. Better then last year, by a few games, but less then the 8 and 8 Kitna predicted. Detroit has some major offensive potential this year, but that has not shown up on the field since Barry Sanders was in the backfield. Detroit’s D will get picked apart, and the decision to let some experienced corners go will come back to bite the management in the arise, count on it. The draft was not sensational, the coach is not battle tested, so that leaves the offense as the only weapon. Detroit will not be able to out score the likes of Chicago, New York, and Kansas City, and without a good pass defense they will get lit up like a Christmas tree every Sunday. The bye week is week 5, part of why my last 8 games only have 2 wins, the defense will be so battered and the offensive plan so well known it is a fools folly to imagine anything else.
What is odd are the assumptions that every year for every team is a rebuilding year. This is because of free agency, performance demands, and pressure to succeed with limited resources in record times. When Bill Belichick could be fired for a bad season who can build a franchise team anymore? I wish the madness would stop, but it won’t. Teams will be in a constant state of flux season in and out from now on because its more exciting. It also gives the flapping heads at the sports networks so much to talk about they seem like experts and we follow them as gurus of the pig skin. No one with any degree of certainty can say what January will hold, but that is what makes it all exciting. Gone are the days of Barry Sanders and 300+ yard games in offense. As the Bills showed, even if Detroit jumps out to a quick lead, without a good defense that can at lease cause havoc for the other team, you can’t win. The best offense is a good Defense. Bill Ford and the front office should be fired, everyone in Detroit knows that, but the likelihood of that is slim. Instead someone needs to take a gamble, pick a side and commit 100% to that plan. If you want a high scoring Offense, build up the line so the QB can have a good 8 seconds to think, get the receivers in place, a solid QB core built and damn the torpedoes. The St Louis Rams took this philosophy to the Super Bowl some time back, and they slowly built up a defense, but when you are scoring 5 to 7 touchdowns a game who cares as long as your D can be half way competent.