Wildcard Weekend is upon us! Somehow, through a combination of some inexplicable late game comebacks and since about sixty percent of the NFC is abjectly terrible, my
scarlet letter Detroit Lions find themselves in the NFC Playoffs. Now I’ve gone into great detail before about just how historically inept this franchise is, and how I was basically giving up on them. But I lied (somewhat), and I have still been following them (sort of) and cursing in my recliner the past three plus years, perhaps just not with the vigor of my youth. Also, my wife will yell at me now if I scare the children. (although on second thought maybe I should be trying to scare them FAR, FAR AWAY from the Lions.) Anyway, so here I am, back to preview them for their upcoming playoff game tomorrow night against the Seattle Seahawks as some form of catharsis for the inevitable grief to come.
How’d we get here? Like you’d expect, the Lions are most certainly not coming into these playoffs “hot.” They utterly and completely backed into the final NFC playoff spot with a 9-7 record after losing three straight games to other NFC teams (who also happen to be in these playoffs). It’s only due to the Redskins being somewhat worse down the stretch that we’re even still in the postseason. After 14 weeks this season, the Lions sat in the #2 overall spot in the NFC and were in position for a first round bye. Then Matthew Stafford’s middle finger was almost torn off, and Theo Riddick went on the IR with a wrist injury and then Lions gonna Lions.
So in a span of three short weeks, we went from potentially hosting our first home playoff game since my senior year of high school to now playing once again on the road for the seventh straight time in the Wild Card round. This time, 2,000+ miles away in Paul Allen’s cacophonous, concrete hellhole filled with those awful people from the Chunky Soup commercials.
Who to watch? Matt Stafford’s middle finger. No, not this one. The other one! Stafford’s wearing that funky glove and claims it’s not limiting him, and that he doesn’t put it on the laces when he throws anyway.
Also in Theo Riddick’s absence, the Lions have turned to noted white guy running back, and hero to those who enjoy alliteration, Zach Zenner. Zenner has looked pretty good in the last two games in losses against Dallas and Green Bay, although the Lions curiously went away from using him in the second half of both games after success in the first halves and while also enjoying leads. This is the Lions unconventional “If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It” approach to playcalling. The Seahawks run defense will pose a much stiffer challenge for him.
On the defensive side of the ball pay attention to cornerback Darius Slay. Slay came back from a hamstring injury to play against the Packers in Week 17 and was OK but still noticeably not 100%. His contempt for grunge music aside, Slay will be crucial in attempting to quiet the Seattle crowd by trying to limit a Seattle passing attack that was 10th overall in YPG if the Lions have any hope of keeping them under 30 points.
Do we have a chance? No fucking way. It’s as inevitable as death and taxes and Jim Caldwell looking stoic that the Lions are going to get handed their asses. This team is 0-5 against the other eleven playoff teams this year, 0-3 outdoors, and as Aaron Rodgers proved last Sunday, mobile QB’s give them fits. Oh and also this team hasn’t won a road playoff game since 1957!
Look, as a fan I have to have a small shred of hope to even watch this game, but after watching this same sitcom for the past 40+ years I know all the lines by heart. It’s not going to happen. Purely from a statistical standpoint alone it SHOULD happen at some point, but deep down in my soul I know it WON’T. This franchise is stuck in a black hole of futility and misery from which no hope can escape. Sure, we played the Seahawks tough in their place on MNF last season. Hell, we almost beat them had Calvin Johnson not fumbled at the goal line (pictured) followed by Kam Chancellor batting the ball out of the back of the endzone and the refs incorrectly awarding the Seahawks the ball on a touchback. But that’s how this team gets you. If they weren’t so hilariously inept, they wouldn’t be so bad. If they don’t outright humiliate you, they’ll find a way to completely break your heart through either their own incompetence or some officiating blunder where fans of every other team shake their heads and pat you on the back and tell you that you “got screwed.” Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
In the year where Cleveland wins a championship, the Cubs win a World Series, and Donald Trump gets elected President of the United States you would think that the Lions would have a chance. But even then there are some universal truths which seem unchangeable and the Lions ineptitude certainly feels like one of them. For basically my entire existence it’s been unwavering, unyielding, relentless, and enduring in it’s cruelty. I know no other way.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.