Nobody seems to think the Detroit Lions are making the playoffs. I won't say that nobody thinks they have an iceberg's chance in hell, but it seems that way if you tune into any major sports network and a few not-so-major ones.
Justin Rogers highlighted the point in an article today at MLive.
Lions fans, if you've read the NFC North blog this summer, you know I do not count myself among the doubters.
It shouldn't bother you that so many doubt the Lions. Good. Let them doubt. Let them downplay the team and its accomplishments, focus only on the off-the-field issues and assume that this team will fall apart.
It isn't, and here is why.
This is a team which, let's be honest, has an attitude. Now, sometimes, the attitude is helpful and sometimes it isn't. When it—and the team as a whole—is focused, the attitude becomes confidence and swagger.
What better way to focus this team than to tell its players they can't? That they were a fluke, that they will slide back into the the same old Lions?
You think the ploy might be a bit silly and that a team of professionals shouldn't need created drama to focus?
The New York Giants disagree while cleaning their Lombardi trophies.
The Giants make a living off being overlooked. Even now, fresh off the Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots, there are plenty of media pundits downplaying them.
Heck, they aren't even the most talked-about team in their own city.
Get a few beers in Tom Coughlin and I bet he'd admit that's the way he likes it.
Playing with a chip on your shoulder is a great way to build your team into a winner. Set up the outside world as your enemy. It's us against the world.
You know I'm not some blind fan of any team in the NFC North, and I'll give it to you straight—this team, like the Giants, has some potentially big holes, which only feed the doubters by the way because the best lies and myths always have an element of truth in them.
The secondary is a question mark, the offensive line is a concern, the backfield is a *M*A*S*H unit and the penalties are a bad habit, and all those things could stop the Lions from returning to the playoffs.
Of course, every other team in the NFC North has similar issues—though let's not let that get in the way of an easy story.
However, if head coach Jim Schwartz is smart, he is using the doubt to fix those areas of concern. To get the players at those spots to dig deep and prove the pundits wrong.
This is a very good team. Not perfect—far from it—but very good.
If nobody else sees that, that's not only fine, that's great.
Nothing motivates an athlete like someone telling him "You can't do it."