Let's ignore the Ndamukong Suh controversy, if only for a few minutes. Let's forget about his pending suspension. Wipe the tears from your eyes, erase the quiver from your lips.
Understand and come to terms with the fact that during Weeks 10-17 of the NFL season, the Detroit Lions have arguably the most difficult schedule in the league this side of the New York Giants. Exhale.
Now, let's look at the task at hand.
This weekend Detroit travels to New Orleans to play the second-best team the NFC has to offer in the Saints. Forget the fact that, yes, New Orleans was demoralized by the lowly St. Louis Rams in Week 8.
Remember, New Orleans was less than a yard away from beating the unbeatable Packers way back in Week 1. You know, the team that just stomped our Lions (sorry, only Suh suspension reference the rest of the way, I promise)?
By all accounts, the general consensus is the Lions will lose to the Saints. And, while I'm hopeful the Lions will rise above and persevere, I'm not too confident Detroit come away victorious Sunday night.
A win would do wonders for Detroit's playoff hopes. I expect Corey Williams, Nick Fairley, and Sammie Lee Hill to do a formidable job filling in for Suh, but I don't think it'll be enough to slow down Drew Brees.
So as a fan, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, which would mean a 7-5 record after this weekend.
Next on the schedule comes the Minnesota Vikings. Stop Adrian Peterson, stop the Vikings. A recipe for a sweep of the division rival truly is as simple as that. A victory here moves Detroit to 8-5, and the roar of their playoff hopes is relatively restored.
In Week 15 Detroit travels to Oakland in what will inevitably be the newest "most important game of the season."
Defeating Green Bay on Thanksgiving or New Orleans this weekend would've labeled the Raiders game in the classification of a game I'd hope Detroit could win. Now, it's a must win. Carson Palmer has been gaining steam the past few weeks, but Detroit's line will be getting healthy and off suspension at the right time.
The Lions win a tight one. Call them 9-5.
A victory in Oakland gives Detroit its first win streak in seven weeks, as they prepare to host the Chargers. San Diego's offensive line has been awful, Philip Rivers has been shockingly bad, and the defense isn't as stout as it once was. When it's all mixed together, it means this matchup screams trap game.
I want so badly to call the San Diego game a W, and anoint the Lions playoff bound. So? I will. Sort of. Detroit wins, moving to 10-5 on the season.
However, for the sake of cruelty, let's call Atlanta, and heck, even the Cutler-less Bears 10-5 headed into Week 17.
Fresh off their first double-digit victory since Wayne Fontes' 1995 Lions, Detroit will have to beat the Packers in Week 17 to make the postseason.
Will it be Suh's redemption? Will Green Bay miraculously lose a game before Week 17, causing them to rest their starters the final week of the regular season?
I don't have these answers. All of my psychic powers were spent predicting the outcomes of Weeks 13-16, sorry.
What I do know is this: A lot of media members and fair weather fans have jumped off the Lions bandwagon over the past month. To them I say good riddance.
To the loyal followers, I'm proud to call you a fellow fan. I recall we've been through tougher times than this, and rejoice that this might be the last time we miss the playoffs for five to seven years. Remember at the start of this season, we were just hoping Detroit would play a meaningful December game!
The Lions will be on national television for the third time this year this coming Sunday night. Not bad, huh? Detroit's playoff hopes may come to fruition as this season concludes, and they may not. Regardless, the roar has most definitely been restored.
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