Detroit Lions Week 1: Restore the Roar: From Ugly Duckling to NFL Sweetheart

Ryan CampbellContributor IIISeptember 13, 2011

Matthew Stafford looked every bit the part of a confident, playoff bound QB.
Matthew Stafford looked every bit the part of a confident, playoff bound QB.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

I'm sorry, but we're at capacity.  It's not that we don't want you, it's just all this attention is making us slightly nervous.  Is Lion Pride spreading a little too fast? 

In seemingly 48 hours (okay, several analysts have been saying the Lions would be a surprise playoff team prior to Sunday's matchup with the Tampa Bay Bucs) everyone has fallen in love with the Detroit Lions.  It feels like one of those cheesy, sophomoric movies where all the ugly duckling had to do was take off the glasses, slap on a little makeup and viola, the ugly duckling is now the center of adulation. 

In reality, it took a few years of Martin Mayhew magic to get this team where it is today.  Surely, most of you loyal fans remember the trials and tribulations of the past two seasons (because miraculously I can't remember anything about 2008, it's like that year never happened in my mind).  From awful to bad, to barely average in 2010.  Are we definitely ready for the attention that going from average to good brings?  I think so.  I just don't like everyone else thinking so.

Looking at all the national love Detroit has gotten the past couple of days makes me uncomfortable.  Perhaps worried, that it's possible for the Lions' makeup to come off and for the glasses to slip back on, making us ugly again.  My beloved Lions looked great at Reliant Stadium Sunday afternoon, but we've looked great in openers before only to be left sitting at home come prom night.

Anyone remember the 2007 season, when Detroit started off 6-2?  Things took a nose dive quickly after that start.  "Detroit Dictionary" definition of nose dive: "to win only one more game after winning six of the first eight." 

Not to compare this team to that '07 roster.  This Lions team is younger, more talented and better coached (Jim Schwartz is the trendy pick for coach of the year...already).  It's all the flattery that makes me cringe. 

Matthew Stafford downplayed his impressive numbers—24-33, 305 yards, three TDs—despite finishing as the fourth most-productive QB according to ESPN's new Total Quarterback Rating (QBR).  He fell all the way to the fifth most highly-ranked QB according to the old-fashioned QB rating, netting a score of 118.9.

Ndamukong Suh didn't gush over how great the defense performed, saying, "I don't know about the defense playing exceptionally well...we made some mistakes, but we came out with the win and that's all that really matters. Up front, we need to get more pressure and get after the quarterback."

The problem is Stafford did look fantastic, other than the his one boneheaded interception, which was partially Will Heller's fault.  What?  I'm still protective of Stafford, I just don't want the entire nation to validate him just yet.  The defense is capable of playing better but did look imposing, allowing only 315 total net yards, only 56 of those coming on the ground.  The Lions did look every part of a playoff team despite, well, everyone calling them a playoff team.

Detroit's home opener is this coming Sunday against a Kansas City team that was annihilated by lowly Buffalo 41-7.  To me, this game screams trap game.  KC is easy to overlook coming off of a big-time road victory and division rival Minnesota looming.  Yes, by my Detroit Dictionary this is a trap game.  See, we Detroit fans have already decided the Lions are a good football team; they're our sweetheart.  I just don't like the idea of the rest of America agreeing with us quite yet.