I love blogging the Detroit Lions. Win or lose, there's always fodder for a good online discussion. This 2011 campaign is unprecedented in so many ways that I had to sit back for a day or so, and just let it all sink in.
Having witnessed two heart-stopping, come-from-behind victories on the road, I wanted to pounce on my keyboard and share with everyone how great it feels to finally be backing a winner. I wanted to write about five players who stood out in the Dallas heist. I wanted to write an article anticipating the Lions' return to Monday Night Football. I wanted to get another shot at ESPN's Cris Carter.
But this is a special time for me. A time where adjectives fail to adequately express this experience. This is a time to listen to the many voices hyping the Lions. A time to read and analyze stats that I can barely believe. A time to reflect in quiet satisfaction just what we are seeing here.
The Lions are the Darlings of the NFL
It's true. The Lions are getting respect now from every quarter of the sports media, the sports blogosphere and even the gambling community.
Here's the amazing thing though: It's no longer amazement at what the Lions have accomplished. It's more about what the Lions will accomplish going forward.
Admit it. You, along with every other NFL observer, is looking at the remainder of the season through new lenses. Now we see a season of almost limitless possibilities.
Hey, why not? This Lions team is a special team, and this is a special time.
The Lions are Filling an NFL Power Vacuum
I'm sure that you have noticed that teams like the Eagles, Falcons, Colts, Giants, Jets, Cowboys, Steelers and Buccaneers are not living up to their preseason expectations. Granted, it's early, but time is running out on some of these teams to right the season.
There is most definitely a power vacuum in the NFL this year. The Lions are filling that vacuum with a blazing fast 4-0 start. A new power is emerging on the NFL stage.
The success of the Lions in 2011 will be attributed to this power vacuum as much as the Lions' winning efforts. Whatever the case, we'll take all the good fortune that seems to attend winning teams.
Every Game a Statement Game
The Lions are making a statement with every win. The message might vary from week to week, but the statement is clear: These Lions will find a way to beat you.
The Lions have established an identity. An identity that reflects the plan set forth in 2009 by the Lions GM Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz. Build with quality talent. Build with quality depth.
Yes, the Lions no longer have the look of a rebuilding team. The Lions are proving they have the depth and talent to survive injuries, and even some poor performances by various units and players.
Overcoming injuries, poor performances, and the scoreboard are becoming elements that make this team and this time very special.
The Packers and Lions are on a Thanksgiving Day Collision Course
The Lions and Packers are the final two undefeated teams in the NFL. We knew that the Packers would be a powerhouse in 2011, but they seem to be scrambling to keep pace with the Lions.
This week, the Packers visit the faltering Falcons on Sunday Night. They should hold serve. Meanwhile, the Lions host the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
Call it serendipity if you will, but the Lions and Packers playing on the two biggest stages that the NFL has to offer in the same week is special indeed.
The Packers and Lions have the wherewithal to be tied atop the NFC North division come Turkey Day. Wouldn't that be sweet?
To finally have a huge game on the national stage will give us fans the must see TV that we've been missing for many years. The stakes will be the largest that the Lions have played for in more years than I care to remember.
The Season of Broken Streaks and Records
Out with the old and in with the new. The Lions continue to sweep monkeys and skeletons out of the closet where room is being made for all of the record-setting performances that they are piling up faster than we can look them up.
Elephants in the room have been getting the old heave-ho.
I see every reason to expect this trend to continue. We stats wonks will be dusting off records archives that haven't seen the light of day in decades. Consecutive victories, road victories and come-from-behind victories are being rewritten.
Just a special team doing special things in a special season.
The Lions Will Play on Sunday Night Football
The Lions are hot, and will be given heavy consideration by the NFL for a late-season primetime game.
The NFL's flexible scheduling (Weeks 11-17) might look to replace the Colts vs. Patriots Sunday night game with the more attractive Lions vs. Saints game in Week 13.
When you are good, accommodations are made for compelling games of major consequence.
Consider This: The Lions Have Yet to Approach Their Potential
The evidence suggests that we have only seen the tip of the spear.
The Lions D-line has yet to prove their dominance. In fact, they have been downright average. There are many schools of thought on this subject that all have merit. My take is that the Lions D-line is being more effectively schemed, and the static nature of the rush is about to get a tune-up. Look for some new wrinkles against the Bears.
You couldn't ask for better play out of the LB corps. You can see the increased level of comfort and confidence in play across every position. Ashlee Palmer and Bobby Carpenter have shown that depth is no longer a question mark. We have yet to see the linebackers' best game.
The secondary has become a position of relative strength. They aren't generating the number of coverage sacks that many of us expected, but are keeping some of the best receivers in the league under the kind of control that was unheard-of in past seasons.
Questions persist about the effectiveness of the O-line and the running game. Somehow, some way, this area needs to be addressed. With a heavy slate of home games coming up, we might see some improvement there.
Imagine these Lions with a running game.
No, we haven't seen what this team is capable of by a long shot.
Have the Lions reached their potential?
A Special Team at a Special Time
Through some confluence of good fortune, the slow start of many of the league's best teams, scheduling and pure grit, the Lions find themselves in an outstanding position to take this season to the house.
WR Calvin Johnson is already being mentioned as the early favorite for the MVP award, and deservedly so. At this early stage there is no more electrifying player in the NFL.
What seemed like an iffy proposition only a month ago for the Lions to make the playoffs is now looking like a very solid bet. Can the Lions continue this reign of terror into Thanksgiving Day and beyond?
I'm saying yes. It's just a feeling that this Lions team is a very special team at a very special time.