Only in the NFL Can the Lions Be Thrown to the Lions

Bleacher ReportSenior Writer INovember 18, 2008

About a week or so ago, I ran across a headline about how Roy Williams (the wide receiver) thought the Detroit Lions wouldn't win a game all year. Eagerly, I clicked on the story because I love finding legitimate reasons to shred anything related to the Dallas Cowboys.

Sue me.

I'm a San Francisco 49ers fan, and the "pokes" ended the 'Niners' season routinely in the 1990s. My intense dislike is part of the price Dallas and their fans paid for the Super Bowls. I'm pretty sure they're happy with the exchange.

Back to Williams.

One problem with my sinister plan was that his whole quote really didn't sound bitter or malicious. In fact, he said he hoped Detroit wins a game and his reasoning made perfect sense, considering the state of the current National Football League wide receiver.

I sincerely believe Roy may be such an egomaniac that he really doesn't want any team he was a part of to finish winless because of how it reflects on him.

Even though he played less than half a season for them.

However, the larger problem was that Roy Williams is definitely right.

The Lions enter their bye week 0-10, and the rest of the schedule is daunting, to say the least. Still on the docket are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the undefeated Tennessee Titans, the Minnesota Vikings, the Indianapolis Colts, the New Orleans Saints, and the Green Bay Packers. Those teams all sit at .500 or better and are legitimately in the playoff picture.

Not only that, but the above is the order in which Detroit plays the teams.

That means the Lions don't get an advantage out of the bye against Tampa Bay because the Bucs will be coming off one as well. It means they don't get the luxury of playing the Titans after Tennessee has clinched anything. It means they end the year with the Saints and Packers.

Both teams are better than the Lions and will either be playing for the playoffs on the line or with angry pride after having been eliminated despite playoff expectations.

Those aren't winnable games. If Detroit managed any win, let alone its first one, against such odds, it would be a colossal upset.

As I see it, Detroit's best shot at a win is against the Vikings, who are 5-5 and part of the three-way-tie for first place in the Lions' division. Minnesota is obviously better and will likely still be alive in the playoff race.

So the already diminished likelihood of overlooking a division opponent will be further reduced. However, considering the other teams on the docket, Minnesota is the weakest foe left and that game is in Detroit.

Even so, it would be a pretty surprising upset so the prospect of an 0-for-2008 in Detroit is pretty freakin' likely. But that probable humiliation shouldn't be totally on the Lions.

No, I'm not talking Barry Sanders' early retirement. Get over it.

I'm talking scheduling.

To be completely fair, you can't really blame the NFL. It's just a matter of the perfect storm: a really bad football team and a really unlucky schedule.

Check it out.

The Lions play the National Football Conference South, the American Football Conference South, two games each against the NFC North (their own division). That right there is 14 games set in stone, which means—even if the NFL were in the habit of massaging the schedule after it's released—there would only be two games of wiggle room.

And those two game were against my 'Niners—who are objectively hideous—and the Washington Redskins—a team that has overachieved to this point by most people's expectations.

You really can't get any easier than SF, and Washington isn't exactly the New England Patriots. I guess you could have picked the Oakland Raiders instead of the 'Skins. But that's only one game.

Furthermore, I imagine the other divisions against which each division must play rotate on an annual basis. Even if that's not the case, nobody saw the NFC South coming.

The Atlanta Falcons have to be considered one of the biggest surprises of the year, probably the biggest. The Carolina Panthers are quietly building a case for a trip to the Super Bowl. The Bucs were good last year, but I'm not sure anyone expected them to be sitting at 7-3.

The Saints, who many expected to be the class of the division, actually got off to a slow start and sit in last place. But they are still awesome compared to the Lions at 5-5.

Sure, the AFC South is brutal when you're the Detroit Lions, but that goes hand-in-hand with the NFC South. Bottom line—you can't accuse the League of setting Detroit up for failure.

Especially when the Lions have lost to the easiest teams on the schedule.

They got stomped out by SF, the worst team they will play all year. Add to that losses against Washington, the Houston Texans, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Chicago Bears twice. Even if there were a legitimate gripe about the intent behind the scheduling, you don't generate much sympathy with that kind of resume.

Of course, the Detroit Lions already have my sympathy. I really do believe it's not a matter of historic futility, just a really bad team with a really tough schedule. That stinks.

They just don't have my support. I'm rooting for history.

I'd feel bad about it if I had much of a conscience, but I'm rooting for a donut in the win column.

Like I said, I'm a 'Niner fan. It's sad, but I have to root for anything that will hide that smell.


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