Expectations are rising in Detroit, where a highly-rated draft class has the Lions' faithful optimistically thinking playoffs, and, pessimistically, the third pick in next year's NFL draft. But this could be the year the Lions make the giant leap into NFC North relevancy, out of the shadows of the Packers, Vikings, and Bears and into the realm of contenders.
"Not only is Detroit the 'Motor City,'" said Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford, "it's now also the 'Matter City.' Like many things in Detroit, we had to redefine ourselves, from perennial losers to expectant winners. Ford Motor Company recovered from dark days by redefining itself. Heck, the Motor City Madman himself, Ted Nugent, did it. There was a time, long ago, when he was known only for rock and roll. Now he hangs his hat on beef jerky and two-bit bow-hunting programs. As a human, he may have devolved, but his career has evolved."
Hopes are high in Chicago, as well, with athletic freak Julius Peppers now anchoring the defense and offensive genius Mike Martz scheming to add his wizardry to the Bears' offense. Martz's offense will demand more accuracy from Jay Cutler, with routes relying more on timing than on Cutler's strong arm.
"Everyone knows Cutler has a cannon for an arm," Martz said, "but you can't thread a needle with a cannon. All too often last year, Cutler emulated Ben Roethlisberger, and tried to put things where they didn't belong."
The Bears' offense clicks, and Cutler throws three touchdowns, limiting his interceptions to one. A satisfied Lovie Smith, who served as Martz's defensive coordinator in St. Louis, gushes when asked by a reporter about Martz's contribution, simply replying "works for me."
Chicago wins, 31-27.