It's that time again, my fellow Detroit Lions fans.
The official end of the season is upon us, and you're going to watch. You're a Lions fan, but you're also a football fan, and this promises to be an explosive, well-matched, potentially high-scoring Super Bowl.
But what's in it for you?
Once again, the Lions were out of playoff contention by midseason, and the only talk about the Lions since Week 17 has pertained to the draft in April.
So aside from picking a surrogate team to root for during the playoffs (as we have all learned to do as a self-defense mechanism—don't lie, you know you do it, too), how can we Lions fans enjoy the game as, well, Lions fans?
I have a few ideas, sorted out for the many different types of Lions fans.
For the "Blind Optimist"
Take a good look at the spectacle that is the Super Bowl. Picture Honolulu blue taking the field when you see the Colts head out there. It's only a few shades away.
Soon, my friend, soon. Maybe next year.
If it helps, remember how close the Lions were to beating the Colts last year (lost 21-31), and that they only lost to the Saints by 18 points this season.
Mention to your friends that the Lions "could have beaten" either team in this game. Use the words "Any Given Sunday" a minimum of two times in your explanation.
Watching the Saints should remind you that it's okay if the Lions' defense is routinely poor, as long as they score lots of points. In this spirit, push for Martin Mayhew to pick Reggie Bush in next year's draft.
Afterward, make your daily trip to turn on your bathroom faucet, just to once again make sure it's not spitting out gold and gemstones today.
For the "Angry Pessimist"
Keep reminding yourself: the only reason the Saints are in the Super Bowl right now is because they cut Joey Harrington.
As you know, anything that touches the Lions is cursed to have little or no success in future endeavors. Harrington is so full of the Lions curse (being both a first-round pick and a quarterback), that even his team became more successful after cutting ties with him.
To keep yourself occupied, find the players on both teams that were taken in the draft shortly after major Lions busts.
Here's a starter list:
2005—Pro Bowl OT Jammal Brown, taken by New Orleans three picks after Detroit selected Mike Williams (for added sting, the two picks in between Williams and Brown were DeMarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman).
2006—Pro Bowl SS Roman Harper, taken three picks after the Lions selected Daniel Bullocks.
2004—If the selections of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith after Roy Williams don't get it for you, try the second-round pick of Bob Sanders by the Colts, seven picks after the Lions took Teddy Lehman.
If this becomes tiresome, start a "Fire Millen" chant in your local sports bar.
For the "Rebuilder"
As the person who always believes the Lions are in rebuilding mode, and are consistently a year away (even though "the year" never arrives), you have a few options.
First, take a list of upcoming free agents on both squads, and keep tabs on their performance, considering whether they would look good in a Lions jersey next year (even though they won't be).
A few notables:
CB Marlin Jackson (IND)
CB Tim Jennings (IND)
S Antoine Bethea (IND)
G Jahri Evans (NO)
RB Mike Bell (NO)
WR Lance Moore (NO)
When you're through with that, analyze the teams themselves. What do they seem to be lacking? And what could the Lions trade away for draft picks to help them improve that?
Because your concern is always rebuilding, you've probably been looking to unload Calvin Johnson for a pick-and-player package ever since he was found to have superstar potential. Because of this, tell anyone who will listen that both teams need a real superstar receiver to put them over the top.
To further drive the point home, mention a draft scenario in which the Lions trade Johnson and are thus able to draft Eric Berry, Ndamukong Suh, C.J. Spiller, Brandon Graham, and Barry Sanders.
For the "Depressed and Defeated"
Pick a team and run with it.
You're tired of the Lions. It's just too painful these days, and there's no point anymore. So if you're going to pick a new team, it needs to be a good one.
Why not one of the teams in this year's Super Bowl?
So pick a team you like, and if they win, celebrate as if you've been rooting for them all season.
Of course, you have a lot in common with the "Angry Pessimist," so you know that as soon as you pick a team to root for, they will lose the Super Bowl and go 3-13 next season.
After the game is over, continue to insist that you are a Saints/Colts fan. Proceed to argue about who the Lions should draft in April, but claim you don't care anymore.
In August, renew your Lions season tickets, but claim you'll only root for them when they don't play your new team.
Continue to fool no one.
Optional: Show up to each Lions home game in your new team's jersey, just to show how much you don't care about the team you're currently cheering for.
For the Heckler:
Your role is mostly unchanged.
Normally, your task is to make sure all Lions fans are as miserable as you are by calling for your team to lose at every conceivable moment. But you can't do any more damage to the Lions this year, so you might as well bring down the Saints and Colts and annoy their fans.
Unless you have a pre-existing preference between the Saints and Colts, you can play both sides today. In other words, as far as you're concerned, nothing good will happen in the Super Bowl. Either one team is screwing up and is going to lose, or the other is.
Some usable examples:
(Before a field goal) "He's nervous. Here comes a shank."
(After a field goal) "They're going to wish they had gotten it into the end zone there. They'll probably lose by two now."
(After a turnover) "Wow, look at them give that ball away. Oh, well, that's what they're about to do with the whole game now."
(After a sack) "Oh, the QB's hurt now! This game's over."
(After a first down) "Uh-oh, here they come! The next play's going for a touchdown."
(After a four-yard run) "They can't stop anybody! They're going to lose by at least 30."
Bonus: Seek out the "Depressed and Defeated" Lions fan, and heckle their adopted team.