12th Man Report: Chi-Town Showdown
What’s that? Lions? NFC North? First place?
You heard me. Detroit will be playing the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field and with a victory and a Packers loss, they can gain first place in the division. Granted the Lions aren’t necessarily known for winning on the road, or winning in hostile environments, or even coming through in the clutch — at all.
Currently, the Lions, Bears, and Green Bay Packers all sit atop the division at 5-3. The Packers host the Philadelphia Eagles, a winnable game, but that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed for Green Bay; it’s tough to call any game that for the current Aaron Rodgers-less Packers.
Which is why this game in Chicago is so crucial. The Packers are reeling. When Rodgers suffered a fractured clavicle on Monday, Green Bay similarly suffered. Seneca Wallace will be quarterbacking the Packers…yikes. And with star quarterback Jay Cutler out in Chicago, the Bears aren’t exactly in great shape either — though Cinderella-sensation Josh McCown has done a pretty damn good job so far.
Regardless of the opposition — both the Bears and Packers are looking pretty feeble right now — the Lions hold their own fate. It’s difficult to say this but here it goes: right now, the division is sitting there for the Lions’ taking. And the crazier part is that I think they’re actually good enough to do it.
However, the Lions have a bit of a reputation for choking when it matters; for underachieving the minute expectations become more than “oh, they’re not 0-16…sounds like a good season to me.” With Rodgers and Cutler out, Stafford playing like he’s Joe Montana, and a defense that isn’t as porous as a strainer, the Lions are legitimate contenders.
But the Lions of old would never win a game like this weekend’s. It’s just something they’ve never done: have that statement win on the road that’s an impetus for the remainder of the season. You know — the victory that teams look back on after their Super Bowl Championship and say, “that was when we knew we could do it.”
Maybe they’ll roll into Soldier Field with all kinds of swag, and roll out with a purpose: make the playoffs. But then again, maybe they’ll get blown out because that’s what the Lions tend to do — disappoint when expectations are high.