Face it fans: The Detroit Lions are a real football team

For as long as anyone can remember, the Detroit Lions have been easy to dismiss.

And most people, even their own fanes, have done lots of dismissing.

You know all the statistics. No Super Bowl appearances, one playoff game win since 1957, blah, blah, blah.

But with one quarter of the 2017 NFL season in the books, the haters do not have a leg to stand on. Simply put, the Lions are for real.

Super Bowl contenders? Probably not. But they were inches away from beating a team that is the current betting favorite to represent the NFC, Atlanta.

Run the table from here? Probably not. The number of 1-loss NFL seasons is a very short one. And the Lions do have some serious questions to answer on offense, starting with a clearly inadequate offensive line that could be the Achilles heel of the team.

Next up is a Carolina team that just beat the dynastic Patriots in New England. A win should be the last nail in the coffin of the Same Old Lions, a loss would not be a terrible one.

But they are nobody’s doormat any more. They are playing with a confidence that belies 60 years of futility.

And it’s time for Lions fans to share that confidence.

You have a defense that could end up being one of the best in the league. The secondary, which was the arguably the team’s biggest weakness last year, is making plays. The Lions have created 11 turnovers in four games, after creating just 14 all last season.

They picked off Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, the reigning NFL MVP, three times in a game that added “10-second runoff” to every Lions fan’s lexicon. Safety Glover Quin forced a fumble that effectively sealed Sunday’s win at Minnesota, a historically difficult place for the Lions to come away victorious.

For the first time in recent memory, an decent pass rush is not critical to the success of the defense. But they have one. The Lions have 10 sacks in 4 games, which won’t set the world on fire, but is enough to contribute to a successful defense.

In a game in which the offense struggled against a stout Minnesota defense, the Lions defense stepped up, holding the Vikings to a single score on their home field in a crucial early division game.

On the other side of the ball, nobody aside from the most penurious are criticizing Matthew Stafford’s recent $135 million contract signing, mainly because he is indisputably one of the elite quarterbacks in the league.

And he has help. Ameer Abdullah has given the team a dimension it has lacked for Stafford’s entire career: A real running game. Abdullah was one tweaked ankle away from rushing for 100 yards in Minnesota, and his absence late due to that slight ankle injury was obvious when the Lions had trouble running out the clock in the fourth quarter.

But the injury was minor, and should cause him to miss no time in practice this week. He scored the Lions touchdown on a fine individual effort, and finally gives the offense the ability to move the ball on the ground.

Simply stated, there are no games on the Lions schedule that they can’t win. Green Bay away is always tough, but the league has graced the Lions with a contest at Lambeau Field in a month other than December for a change. Granted, it won’t be a great deal easier on the first Monday on November at night, but it will be in the middle of the season, when the division title is still in the Lions’ sights.

At this point, an 11- or 12-win season is not out of the question, and much less would be a disappointment. And a better record, possibly even a first-round bye in the playoffs, is within the realm of possibility.

No, seriously. The Detroit Lions are a genuinely good team.

Sorry, haters.

Scott Yoshonis is the Sports Editor of the Manistee News Advocate. Scott can be reached at 231-398-3112 or via email at syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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