Friday, September 5, 2008

Thank God it's Week 1

It's time for that uncomfortable summer heat and humidity to go away, for tropical storms and hurricanes to form somewhere out there in the the Atlantic and for the Detroit Lions to take to the field and prove their doubters right once again.

The slogan for the Lions has changed from "Wait til the next Decade" to "Do You Believe in Now.' And it does appear there are reasons for optimism. The Lions are coming off their best pre-season since 1993. That was back in the Wayne Fontes era, which are now referred to as the golden years.

Of course, there are still uncomfortable realities to consider. The Lions gave up more points (27.8) and yards (377.6) per game than any defense last year. Their offense had the 31st rated running game averaging (80.5) yards per game. Teams with stats like that typically don't do well in the NFL, kind of like the Lions last season.

Luckily, the Lions are fortunate enough to play the Atlanta Falcons in their season opener. This fellow sad sack franchise had a monumentally bad season last year with their starting quarterback going to prison and their coach suddenly quitting halfway through the season. And this year they will start a rookie quarterback. In other words, there are few better opponents to open your season against.

So, for the Lions, this is a make or break game. Because if the Lions hold out hopes of winning, say, five or six games this season, they need to win this game.

Among the things to feel good about is the Lions will start an all-rookie backfield. It's always nice to have new blood back there and they will not suffer the taint of last year's disgrace. Things to not feel so good about is starting pretty much the same offensive line as last season. And even worse, new offensive tackle first-rounder Gosder Cherilous is not starting but hopefully this means he could soon replace our hopelessly mediocre and extremely overpaid left tackle Jeff Backus.

Going out on a limb, I am going to make a prediction for this game.

The Lions will try to run but this won't work too well. They go to the pass and make some big plays.

The much improved defense, which had a nearly complete makeover in the secondary, will try to rattle the rookie quarterback.

The special teams will blow the favorable field position the offense and defense earn.

We'll score some touchdowns but as per the Lions M.O. we'll have to settle for field goals.

Lions 20-16.

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