A few orders of business to take care of before getting rolling tonight: 1) Michigan basketball scored a win against the Western Illinois Leathernecks tonight. I'm getting a funny image in my head about what their mascot might possibly look like. The Eastern Indiana Chickenheads are up next on the schedule. 2) The front page headline on ESPN.com currently reads, "Prime Tim". I'm not sure if that's the pun I would've used, but at any rate, the legend of Timmy Tebow continues to inexplicably grow. I think I'd have tried, "Using Tebow and errors, Denver shoots down the Jets" and see if anyone got it. The script for victory was largely the same for the Broncos as their other Tebow Time wins. Timmy looks like the worst QB in NFL history for about the first 55 minutes or so, the team stays in it thanks to some strong defense and some plays that are kinda weird right when Denver needs it (a 13-yard Jets punt, a rocket snap that sails past Sanchez's head, a telegraphed pass by Sanchez for a pick-6, and a Jets fumble on the very next play), and then Timmy charges through the defense like they're bowling pins for a 95-yard game winning drive. The DTLs seem to be the only team who have been able to crack the code thus far. On to Sunday's tilt, where our boys will be versing Carolina.
Forgive me for my bipolar viewpoints here, but I just keep going back and forth trying to decide how I feel about this one. On paper, the Lions are the far superior team and should walk away with an easy win at home. On plastic, they're a reeling team that's lost 3 out of 4, have an injured QB coming off his worst outing as a pro, and their all-world WR is beat up, the same to nearly all of the running backs as well. Add to that the fact that after ordaining them "the New Cool Team of the NFL" just a month ago, the mainstream national media has already turned on the Bromothymols, calling out every single penalty as evidence of dirty play and sending around a petition for Ndamakung Suh to be thrown out of the league or something (okay, I made that last part up). Suddenly, a home game against the 2-7 Carolina Panthers becomes a toss-up.
Panthers' QB Cam Newton may or may not present some significant problems for Dom and Co. on Sunday. At 6 foot 5 and weighing in at just over 1,100 Newtons, Newton will likely finish no lower than 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting at the end of the season and is on pace to break Peyton Manning's
The only other Panther that I can even name off the top of my head is Steve Smith, unless Rae Carruth is still on the team, but that doesn't sound right. Steve "Cupps" Smith (don't worry if you're not getting that obscure reference) is an elite receiver who ranks second in the NFL in receiving yards (951), and in my opinion looks an awful lot like Nelly. "Cupps" Smith is also a notorious trash talker, so the back and forths between him and Louis Delmas should be very amusing until Delmas gets flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and I whip my miniature Lions football at the idiot box in frustration. In the words of the real Steve Cupps, "It's gonna be a wild one."
Some might say that this has the potential to be a "trap" game for the DTLs, who may indeed be looking ahead to the awarding of the Galloping Gobbler trophy and hearing Terry Bradshaw laugh like a hyena following the Thanksgiving game. This is a unique situation for a team that has had to scrap and claw for every single win for that last few decades or so. By my calculations, the last time the Lions were "caught looking ahead" was in 1999, when the 2-win Cardinals knocked off the 6-win Lions the week before the big Green Bay game (ahh geez).
After being blown away last week in the Windy City, the Lions should return to Ford Field with a bad taste in their mouthpieces and a hunger to prove that last week was one of those flukes that we sometimes hear about. After all, this is the 2008 and 2011 NFL Preseason Champions we're talking about! The defense will be rightfully cantankerous, Stafford and Calvin will back back to early season form, and it will be a decisive business-as-usual 7th victory of the season for our DTLs. Please? I hate to label this game as a "must win", but a loss to the Panthers, and we would have quite a Mike from Jersey Shore on our hands.
I'm going to need a little bit of feedback from my readers (both of you) for this post, because I'm completely torn in terms of trying to make any kind of intelligent prediction for the game. How should I be feeling about the squad's chances against Carolina? As Pops has asked every Sunday since I was about five, "Are the Lions gonna GET ONE this week?"