The NFL Football season starts tomorrow and usually for Lions fans ends sometime within the next few weeks. This season will end with the Lions watching the playoffs on T.V. instead of participating, yet again. However this season should actually show signs of improvement for once, despite the efforts of Matt Millen and driving while nude coaches.
The main difference simply are the men underneath the headsets. Rod Marinelli has instilled an attitude where effort is the most important thing. Charles Rogers found that out the hard way, Mike Williams is on the way to finding that out next year. Given the "talent" coming Marinelli's way thanks to Matt Millen, it's probably for that best that he will focus on effort. Added to that is Mike Martz's explosive (based on history, and blind faith) offense. The big if is can Roy Williams and Kevin Jones live up to their potential. Roy averages a TD every 6.2 catches, it just keeping him healthy being that hard part. Kevin Jones this year will show which season out of his first two was the fluke. On defense...well let's just hope Martz's offense will be able to score a lot of points.
That being said let's break down the schedule and see where the 2006 Lions will end up.
Weeks 1 & 2: vs. Seattle, @ Chicago:
It won't be pretty and there will be many calls for Marinelli's head. But these are playoff teams, the Lions will not beat a playoff team this year. If they do manage to beat one of these teams, said team will not make the playoff...bet on it. So fat 0-2
Weeks 3-7 vs. Green Bay, @St. Louis, @Minnesota, vs. Buffalo, @NY Jets:
Green Bay and the Jets are expected to be two of the worst teams in the league. That means wins for the Lions (in theory) 2-2. You don't think Martz won't be amped up to beat the team that pretty much ran him out during the season? It will be close but the Rams improved D prevails, 2-3. You don't think Dick Jauron won't be amped up to beat the team that ran him out of town? Too bad his QB is J.P. Losman...one more for the Lions 3-3. One good WR, a shaky RB situation, a hit or miss D, and an aging QB? Playing Minnesota is like looking on the mirror, advantage home team, 3-4 into the bye week.
Week 9-11 vs. Atlanta, vs. San Fransisco, @Arizona:
If the Falcons can pry themselves away from fighting each other they could win a game Matt Schaub should be the QB by this week, but he wont. Lions win aided by 4 Ron Mexico turnovers, 4-4. San Fransisco falls in the same category as GB and the Jets, 5-4. The long trip to AZ slows down the offense enough for the Cards to win in a shootout, 5-5.
Week 12 vs. Miami:
Thanksgiving and Joey Blue Skies returns to Ford Field. Judging by Culpepper's performance on opening night he may be the starter, that's not a good thing. Regardless the Lions win their only nationally televised game of the year, 6-5.
Week 13-17 @New England, vs. Minnesota, @Green Bay, vs. Chicago, @Dallas:
Crunch time. At New England, no chance, 6-6. Minnesota loses this time in the battle of the mirror teams, 7-6. Sadly the Minnesota game will be the last one they win. Outdoors at Green Bay in December no matter how crappy they are will equal a loss for the dome team. Chicago will win their 9th game and clinch the division against the Lions, and Dallas will be playing they asses off at home for a wild card berth/division title so no luck there either.
The Lions will end up 7-9, I'm hoping for some bounces going their way and stealing a win or two from a better team (I'm looking at you Arizona and home game vs. Chicago) but 7-9 is a good start to keep Marinelli's attitude echoing throughout the locker room and building a better 2007 team. Well a guy can dream can't he?
On an sort of unrelated note...please read this story about Pat Tillman in the latest SI. With the 5 year anniversary of the events of 9-11 on Monday, it is a harrowing account of a man who may not have believed in all the ideals of this country, but believed it was his duty to put his life on the line for it. So please read it, and regardless of your political stance the next time you see someone in uniform, thank them.
coming up: back to sports and the Tigers-Twins series wrap-up.