By: Jamie Samuelsen
It’s a rather depressing time in the Festival offices.
The bowl games don’t start for another week. Your fantasy team is either on the way to the playoffs or dead on arrival (for me, it’s the latter). And the Lions are playing out the string with four games left. When the schedule came out back in April, December looked juicy with two prime time games (this Sunday in Green Bay and three days before Christmas against the Falcons). But now, what is there left for the Lions to accomplish other than losing as many games as possible and moving up as high as they can in the NFL Draft. (Full disclosure – there is nothing and I mean NOTHING that I hate more than premature NFL Draft talk. I’ll be more than happy to discuss it in March and April – but December? I’d rather watch a DVD of Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge’s greatest at bats from the 2012 season.)
Seriously – what’s left? Anything? The only thing that I can think of is this game against the Packers. We all know the history. The last time the Lions won in Green Bay, George Bush was the President of the United States. No, not George W. Bush, we’re talking about his father, George H. W. Bush. The year was 1991 and the Lions had a third year running back named Barry Sanders and a fourth year head coach named Wayne Fontes. Since then, they’ve not only lost every game in Wisconsin, but they really haven’t been that close. Sure, they went to overtime back in 2005. And the last game of the season in 2011 was the Matt Flynn-Matthew Stafford shootout that the Packers won 45-41.
But how about some of these other scores over the last 20 years? 26-0. 34-13. 31-6. 40-14. 193-2 (I’ll double-check that one. I’m writing this from memory.) True, during much of this era, the Packers had Brett Favre and the Lions had a tasty mixture of Scott Mitchell/Charlie Batch/Joey Harringon/Jon Kitna/Dan Orlovsky. But still, couldn’t they have snuck out at least ONE win along the way? For goodness sakes, the Wizards beat the Heat the other night. Is it so hard to imagine the Lions sneaking out of Lambeau with ONE measly victory?
If the Lions can pull it off, it surely wouldn’t make this disappointing season any sweeter. And I don’t believe that it will qualify them for the playoffs. But it would end this pathetic streak. And it would spare the same questions that the players get every single year about the streak. I feel bad for guys like Stafford and Ndamukong Suh who have played only a tiny part in this sad narrative. I don’t feel bad for Jason Hanson whose career began in 1992, the exact same year that the streak began.
Wait a minute! This is all Hanson’s fault! He’s the lone common denominator in this whole mess. All the Lions have to do is rid themselves of Hanson, and this streak will be over. I’m glad I could figure that out for you!
As for the picks, things have evened up at the top. Wooley and Wojo put together pathetic 0-3 weekends last week, while I constructed a brilliant 1-2 mark to move into a tie for first. (Translation – I took the Colts. They took the Lions. And I got preposterously lucky when Indy rallied for 14 points in the final 100 seconds at Ford Field. I’ve sent gift baskets to Andrew Luck and the Lions secondary for their efforts.)
ARMY (+7) vs. NAVY – The Midshipmen have taken the last ten games in this series dating back to 2001. During part of that winning streak, Army was coached by former Lions head coach Bobby Ross. I find that to be ironic given Ross’s infamous “Abandon Ship. Whoooomp. Whooooomp. Whoooooomp” drop that was legendary during his time in Detroit. (And even more ironic given that the Lions employed that precise defense at the end of the Colts game last Sunday.) Navy enters 7-4 on its way to another bowl game. Army enters 2-9; on it’s way to another loss in the annual rivalry game. PICK – NAVY
WOJO – NAVY
WOOLEY – NAVY
TEXANS (+3 ½) AT PATRIOTS – There seems to be a perception out there that the Texans aren’t quite as good as their 11-1 record indicates. And there seems to be a perception that the Patriots might be a tad better than their 9-3 record indicates. I don’t know what else the Texans have to do to prove it. They gutted out back-to-back overtime wins in the span of five days over the Jags and the Lions and they outmuscled the Bears in the rain at Soldier Field. The Pats lost at home to the Cardinals, which now looks like the weirdest result of the season. But that was then. And now? The Pats offense is performing at a frightening level even without the Gronk and the Edelman. And even though I have to give the Texans credit for what they’ve done, I’m with the perceptive masses who think the Pats are better than their 9-3. PICK – PATRIOTS
WOJO – PATRIOTS
WOOLEY – TEXANS
LIONS (+7) AT PACKERS – What more can I say about this game? The Lions are banged up at receiver and in the secondary (and in the ego department). The Packers are banged up along the offensive line. Translation – Suh and Nick Fairley should have a field day chasing down Aaron Rodgers. And Aaron Rodgers should have a field day picking apart the Lions defense. It doesn’t seem to matter who’s out there on offense; Rodgers seems to keep getting it done. I looked it up, and the Lions do seem to struggle a bit at Lambeau. PICK – PACKERS
WOJO – PACKERS
WOOLEY – PACKERS