One of the biggest off-season stories in recent memory happened to the Detroit Lions this past week. It was announced they would play the Kansas City Chiefs in the season opener on September 7th.
That might not sound like such a big deal. But it means more than you might think.
The NFL doesn’t just put any ole team in the season opener. Those spots are usually reserved for Super Bowl champions and contenders. The fact that the Lions are in it, says a lot about what the league thinks of them.
Last year it was the Buffalo Bills (contender) playing the Los Angeles Rams (previous year champion). Season before that it was the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (previous year champion). You get the picture.
The Lions being in this game is full proof that the NFL actually respects them. And sees them as a real contender in the NFC.
Coming from where the Lions have been since… pretty much our entire lives. That’s a huge step in the right direction.
The league and most of its teams haven’t respected the Lions in a long time. Detroit has found itself at the butt end of many jokes and horrendous calls. From Calvin Johnson not completing the process of the catch to the ten second run-off against Atlanta and of course the picking up of the flag against Dallas.
In each of those instances you can make the argument that the Lions were at fault and could’ve did other things to prevent those instances from ending so poorly. I have likely made that argument to many of my Lions fans friends.
But you can also make the argument that if the league respected you, some if not most of those calls may not have occurred.
You think they’re calling Megatron’s touchdown catch back if that was the Patriots? or the Packers? or the Steelers? No they are not.
If the roles were reversed, are the officials picking up that flag on you? No they are not.
Not every call made is by the book. Some are based off of reputation.
It’ll be interesting if the Lions get a few more favorable calls this season with this added amount of respect.
Now the Hard Part
Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell have done a great job at getting the Lions invited to the adult table. But now comes the hard part. Staying there.
There’s only one way to avoid going back to the kids side of the room, winning. If the Lions finish below .500 this year they’ll be back to eating dinosaur chicken nuggets in 2024.
Detroit has to start winning some of these big important games. It doesn’t have to begin at Arrowhead Stadium against the defending champs. But there are other games on the schedule that are circled a few times.
On the road against Baltimore in mid-October. At the Chargers in early November. Saturday night in Dallas on December 30th. The Lions have to win some of those types of games.
You don’t have a rookie quarterback or head coach to hide behind. Jared Goff is a veteran who’s been to a Super Bowl and this is Dan Campbell’s third year.
I can’t begin to describe to you how much it frustrates me to see fans comment that just making the playoffs is good enough. No that’s not good enough. The Lions are a top-four favorite to win the NFC. They are almost overwhelming favorites to win their division. Just making the playoffs isn’t good enough.
They need to win a playoff game.
Just one, that’s it.
Anything less than that (barring some crazy injury) is unacceptable.
Anybody can have a couple nice drafts in a row. But actually putting it together on the field and winning important games is what really matters.
The Lions have done the first part. Now they must complete the second task.
If they can make that happen, they won’t have to order from a menu with a word search on it next year.
For more from the author Jeramy Stover, check him out on Twitter here: @jstover96
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