Ah, yes, another Lions season is upon us and everyone is all jacked up on Mountain Dew, or something, myself included. The Lions, led by the super-cool Jim Schwartz, actually look much improved. The additions of Ndamukong Suh, Jahvid Best, Nate Burleson, Tony Scheffler, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams, Rob Sims and Chris Houston, amongst others, have made our offseason drinks extra potent, and may I add quite delicious.
Aside from the general increase in talent, fans like myself also tend to look to trends to convince themselves why the team is due and the upcoming season might be different from previous years.
For example, it's been ten years since the Lions have had a winning record (9-7 in 2000 under Bobby Ross), which makes for a perfect even number for the team to achieve that record again. Or, the last time the Lions won on the road was at Chicago in 2007, which only means the two year road losing streak (19 games in all) will fittingly end at Chicago in Sunday's season opener, right? Also, 2007 was the last time the Lions opened a season with a win (and it was on the road!).
Those are just a few of the self-convincing techniques and, BOOM, we're stumbling drunk for the next season to begin. We're so drunk off this squad's potential that I once called the second-year quarterback a top ten fantasy QB and severals are putting Jahvid Best in the same sentence as the GOAT before he's even had a regular season NFL hand off. Some people are even predicting the Lions to make the playoffs! Woah, I'm dizzy.
But then the NFL season starts (as it did Thursday night) and expectations should start to sober up and start to consume a healthy dose of realism. In fact, it seems like the season hits us like a Sunday morning after a long night of partying every year with the Lions. Maybe it's settled in for me earlier than in previous years, but I'm hear to tell the remaining fans at the party to step away from the punch bowl. Or you're going to be really hurting when you wake up from this offseason.
Yes, it's obvious, the Lions appear better than they were last year. Don't forget the Lions were also better last season and won only two games, which probably seemed like much more than the perfect futility of 2008. Another two wins in 2010 would similarly feel like huge strides forward, but that would still leave the Lions with just four wins. That's 4-12. That's not good. That's not what we've gotten so hopped up for, is it?
This might make me the terrible friend who waits until last call to decide for you that another drink isn't a good idea, especially if you have to drive home, but damnit I need to get this message out there: The Lions aren't contenders and they're not going to make the playoffs. It pains me to say this, because I love to party, but we're falling all over ourselves and quite possibly embarrassing ourselves to this level. We're still the Detroit Lions, at least for another year, and for another year we're going to have to be happy with mild improvements. So, if you see a "6" in the win column at the end of this year, don't be surprised (or be surprised it's that many). If you listened to me now (or you've smartly believed this all along) then you'll feel much better in the morning or, if you're sick and tired of these stupid kool-aid metaphors, as the season progresses.*
*Obviously, I hope I'm proven wrong. Hell, I might even sneak in a drink after taking away yours. Damn, it's a real disease, isn't it?