By: Dan Leach
The last time the Detroit Lions won in Green Bay Brett Favre wasn’t even their quarterback yet, I had just recently been Bar Mitzvahed, and Dan Quayle was this fine countries Vice President. Bottom line it has been absurdly long since the Lions have been able to call themselves victors on the oft frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. The Lions game Sunday against Green Bay is not only winnable against a 1-2 Packers team that has issues all over the place, but carries so much more weight than just a win or a loss. It is about breaking down barriers that many Lions fans have never seen happen and on the way to that, establishing themselves as a legitimate NFC contender.
If the final gun sounds on Sunday and the Lions are celebrating, they will be 4-1 on the season and all alone in the NFC North lead due to the tie break with Chicago. They would also be three games up in the win column against almost everyone’s NFC North Fave G.B and in essence have a 4 game lead with the head-to-head tie break with the Pack. That is when things would start to get serious when it comes to talk about the Lions and the postseason, and dare I say it….the division title for the first time since 1993.
It is only week five, but early in the season is where most teams make or break their ability to get to the postseason. The Lions have played well enough to win thru 4 weeks, but are just scratching the surface on how well they have the ability to play. There is tremendous talent on both sides of the ball and even with the tough injury to #2 WR Nate Burleson, there is more than enough on offense as was on display in the Bears game, for the lions to score in bunches. The defense has been the pleasant surprise as when I first predicted the Lions to win 11 games right before training camp began it was because I felt the defense was that much improved. The addition of Glover Quin will continue to pay dividends and could be just as important on that side of the ball as Reggie Bush is on the offense.
Ndamukong Suh has been playing lights out and we are finally seeing Nick Fairley, feeding off Suh’s energy, come as close to his true potential as he ever has. Another facet of the Lions game which has gone largely unrecognized is the play of its special teams. Yes David “Green Eggs and Ham” Akers had his issues early and Sam Martin is playing like a rookie, sometimes good sometimes bad, but the kick coverage has been excellent. New special team’s coordinator John Bonamego seems to have his coverage teams completely focused and the way they were able to limit the Vikings returners who sucked the soul out of the Lions last year, as well as not let Devin Hester be a major factor in the win over Chicago, have been striking.
Wins and losses are of course the most important thing in the NFL as you can’t qualify for the postseason without having a good record, but sometimes one win can mean a lot more than just “1” in the W column and that is what Sunday in Green Bay means for the Lions. Going 4-1 is one thing as that would put the Lions with at worst one of the top four records in the NFC. What it also would do is loudly announce the Lions into serious debate as a true NFC contender, as they would have exorcised two of three of their biggest demons on the “2013 Detroit Lions Knocking Down the Doors Tour.” Wins in Washington and Green Bay, two of the Lions biggest albatrosses would be strikingly checked off the list.
There is still so much of the NFL season left, but you play it in four game sections and want to have a winning record in each of them if you’re serious about being a playoff team. The Lions already took care of that in the first fourth of the year. To start the second off with a win in a place that has simply been a horror show the Detroit would go a step further and announce the NFL that the Lions are to be taken seriously.
Perception from others should mean little to a team that has what it takes to have a special year and believes in their ability to do so. Sometimes though just knowing that you are feared for once instead of being a joke can just help further you along on the journey, help break you through to a place that you have not seen in a long time or have never seen before. A win on Sunday in Green Bay, Wisconsin does that and then some.