Last week wasn’t a fun week for Detroit Lions fans. The team had just played on national television and threw away whatever chance they had at beating the favored Saints because of selfish acts after the whistle. The team was already without Ndamukong Suh as a result of his Thanksgiving Day stomp job against the Packers, one would have thought they’d be on their best behavior. Instead, Titus Young gets hit with a personal foul, Stefan Logan taunts an opponent and Brandon Pettigrew makes contact with an official.
The Lions were a big topic of conversation and it had little to do with seeking their first playoff berth since 1999. It was all about Jim Schwartz’s control of the team and where the Lions should rank on the list of NFL villains.
That changed following the Lions’ win over the Vikings last Sunday, at least to those not dead-set on fitting whatever they saw against the Vikings into a preconceived storyline, ala FOX’s Thom Brennaman. Yes, the Lions still committed an unacceptably high ten penalties and got away with a no-call during the last play of the game, but the Lions had a different demeanor during the game. They still brought their aggressive pass rush and played with physicality but it was under control and ended with the whistle. It wouldn’t be a surprise if a few of the Vikings veterans tried baiting the Lions into losing their cool but it didn’t work.
The Lions moved back into playoff position and now control their own destiny. Their playoff scenario is as simple as they want to make it; win out and they’re in. Now, the conversation is no different than it would be with any other young team fighting for a spot in the playoffs.
Do the Lions have enough of a running game?
Will they be able to overcome injuries?
How will this young team make up for their inexperience?
The Lions aren’t a finished product and there are plenty of legitimate reasons to question their viability once the playoffs begin but think about the questions that were asked before the season began:
Can Matthew Stafford stay healthy?
Will Jim Schwartz be able to get this team over the hump?
Why should I believe the hype this time?
Finally, the conversation is where it should be. The questions coming into the season have (largely) been answered and the focus is now solely on securing a playoff berth. It is up to the Lions to make sure the conversation goes forward, not backward.