We're four days into the 2011 season, and Lions beat writers and fans are already starving, hungry for more carnage. Defeating a Tampa Bay team—on the road no less—that went 10-6 last season was no doubt a big step. I'm nodding my head, cautiously, thinking "alright, this might really be a playoff team."
Do you know what playoff teams do? They beat the teams that, on paper, they should beat. No disrespect to the Chiefs—they too (like Tampa Bay) won 10 last year—but, on paper, Detroit is a better team than KC.
The media is stirring the pot, reminding everyone that Detroit's defensive coordinator—the fiery Gunther Cunningham—used to coach in Kansas City (side note: if you haven't seen Gunn on HBO's Hard Knocks, do yourself a favor and Youtube it). Lions head coach Jim Schwartz gaffs at such rah-rah antics. In an article on freep.com, Coach Schwartz said "you think that means anything to Matt Stafford or Calvin Johnson or Ndamukong Suh?...It’s foolish. Nobody’s going to go out and win one for the Gipper—that kind of thing.”
Do the Lions need extra motivation to beat the Chiefs? In my opinion, no. All of the hype leading up to the season opener had this Detroit team smelling blood. Not just the fans, not just the enthusiastic columnists, but the players too. Hell, Tony Scheffler was so amped up, he engaged in a sword fight with an imaginary Buccaneer.
However, I refuse to downplay the significance of this game. 1-0 is nice, but there are at least five teams that are 1-0 right now that likely won't win more than six games in 2011. I don't think the Lions are one of those five teams, but to prove that, they need to tomahawk the Chiefs on Sunday.
Week 3 brings division rival Minnesota, at Mall of America Field (God that sounds peculiar), and although the Vikings did not impress in week one, I don't think they're as bad as they appeared. Minnesota is likely a 6-10 or 7-9 team, but division games are always challenging. It's hard to sweep a division rival no matter how depleted their roster may be.
By week 4, Detroit will be in Dallas, facing off against a Cowboys team that likely will be one of their most formidable foes vying for the Wild Card. That's two tough games in a row in weeks 3 and 4, away from the comforts of Ford Field.
Playoffs, you guys want to talk about playoffs? Then winning at home against a less talented roster is a necessity. That proves Detroit's for real, that makes a statement that the Lions are to be taken seriously. No matter how ridiculous Scheffler's end zone dances may be.
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