There are some things in life that are reliable. These are the things that are so steady and predictable they could give Newton’s Laws of Motion a run for the money. For example, when you have something big coming up like a yearbook photo, or a hot date, or a class reunion, you will get a pimple so big and bad that it will alter your side profile. Or, when there’s an election brewing, at least one candidate will say the rich need to be taxed and at least one candidate will say that there need to be tax cuts. Or, the Detroit Lions will fight and scrap, but will inevitably lose when they play on the road—or pretty much anywhere else.
At least, that’s the way it’s been for several years, but there’s a change in the air.
The Lions are no longer the perfect losers they were in 2008. Between the changes in the coaching staff and the roster, the 2009 Lions looked vastly different from the previous year and, more importantly, they started winning. It was only two games (Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns), but it was a start. And, considering that in 2010 they’re already leading the league with 10 sacks, I think it’s fair to say that they won’t be satisfied with only two wins this season.
Actually, if it hadn’t been for that highly contested “process” call that deprived Shaun Hill and Calvin Johnson of a touchdown at the end of their opening game in Chicago, the Lions would already have their first win. The Lions’ second game against the Eagles, though a loss, was too close for anyone to write them off.
Sunday the Minnesota Vikings will face the Lions at Mall of America Field and…well, anything could happen. That isn’t a lack of faith talking, it’s history. On October 12, 2008, when the Lions were cruising toward a perfect losing season and, arguably, the worst they’d ever been, they came into the Metrodome and the Vikings managed to beat them by a score of only 12 to 10.
Even at their crappiest, the Detroit Lions find a way to give the Minnesota Vikings a tough fight. Divisional games seem to go that way. Hence, no player, coach, or fan should consider Sunday’s game a gimme for the Vikings.
While the Lions are without Matthew Stafford, and will be without him for weeks to come, Shaun Hill is a very capable back-up quarterback. Protection on the Lions’ offensive line has improved some and it still has Gosder Cherilus who has some history with Jared Allen—a helmet to Jared’s knee will do that. Their star receiver, Calvin Johnson, is a 6’5” pass-catching beast I wish I had been able to draft for my fantasy team*. Although the Lions’ secondary may not be the best in the league, on the defensive line they have rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh giving us such memorable moments in football as driving Cleveland quarterback Jake Delhomme headfirst into the dirt. Oh, and then there’s Jahvid Best, a talented young running back that the defense will have to stop early and often.
Clearly, the Vikings are a team with plenty of talent and they’re hungry for a win. That said, they were hungry last week against Miami too.
The encouraging news out of the Vikings locker room this week is that rookie cornerback Chris Cook has been participating fully in practice and might, fingers crossed, play on Sunday against the Lions. At 6’2” Cook is 4 inches taller than the next tallest member of the Vikings secondary, an asset against tall receivers like Calvin Johnson.
The less encouraging news from the Vikings is that they failed in their quest to procure Vincent Jackson from the San Diego Chargers. Instead they had to content themselves with 6’4” Hank Baskett. Let’s hope they decide to use him sooner rather than later. I keep waiting to see the Vikings use Greg Camarillo more extensively—two catches in two games? Seriously?
So, will the Vikings beat the Lions on Sunday? I really wish I could say yes firmly and unequivocally, but the fact is the 2010 Lions have teeth. If you are going to underestimate them simply because they haven’t won a game yet this seaon, you do so at your own risk. After all, the Vikings haven’t won a game yet either, and they are dangerous too.