Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez preview the Detroit Lions’ game against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving.
Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
I’m picking the Detroit Lions this week. I’m picking the Lions next week, too.
There’s a good and simple reason for this. The Lions don’t make any sense and they do exactly the opposite of what they’re supposed to do.
They lose to bad teams and they beat good teams. The Chicago Bears are a good team, so even though nothing really makes sense about beating the NFC North leaders, the Lions surely will do exactly that.
After that, they’ll surely beat the mighty Los Angeles Rams. Yes, the offensive juggernaut that just scored 54 points. The Lions will beat them. Book it.
Why? Because this team makes no sense. It is beyond reason.
They prepare to play indoors by practicing outdoors in the snow.
They trade for Damon Harrison to upgrade one of the weakest parts of their team. Then they trade away Golden Tate to undercut one the strongest parts of their team.
When they have virtually no chance at making the playoffs and they’re in prime position to tank and climb into a better draft spot, they pull off an improbable victory against Carolina and drop into the 10th spot in the draft order.
The players are put through punitive running drills in training camp in order to be an amazingly well-conditioned team. Then they get humiliated in the season opener.
The Lions had no business beating the Carolina Panthers. No Tate, no Marvin Jones, no T.J. Lang, and Kerryon Johnson in the fourth quarter. Yet, they beat them.
This week, they’ll beat the Bears somehow, someway.
Maybe quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s bum shoulder limits him or he yields to Chase Daniel. Maybe 88 hours between kickoffs is too big a hurdle for rookie coach Matt Nagy. Maybe Tarik Cohen fumbles at exactly the wrong time. Maybe Matthew Stafford finds a way to thwart Chicago’s great pass rush. Maybe Cody Parkey pulls another Cody Parkey and clanks a few more kicks off the uprights.
“I’m confident every time we step on the field,” Stafford said Monday. “I don’t care who we’re playing, I don’t care what happened the week before. That’s probably hard for you guys to believe, but it’s not for the guys in this locker room.”
So are you really going to disagree with me and Stafford? Are you going to doubt our confidence in this team? Are you? No, of course not.
After beating the Bears, Stafford and I will continue to brim with confidence. The Lions will have 10 days to enjoy their big win over the Bears and come out of their turkey-induced tryptophan coma. Then it’s time to feast on some mutton when the Rams come to town Dec. 2.
Yep, the Rams know how to score. But their defense isn’t close to elite. After a defensive line that features Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, the Rams aren’t great on defense. They rank 24th in scoring, allowing 25.6 points per game and overall they rank 21st — two spots worse than the Lions’ defense. A fumble here, a pick there and the Lions have a chance to win this game at home.
That would raise the Lions’ record to 6-6 — and elevate all of Detroit’s hopes and dreams as the P word starts to get thrown around the water cooler.
And that’s when the other half of the equation plays out. The Lions will lose one or both road games against the bad Arizona Cardinals and the Buffalo Bills to dash everyone’s playoff fantasies. Because nothing makes sense about this team.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.