The Lions aren’t in the playoffs. This is hardly a surprise; usually the start of the playoffs means the end of me being emotionally invested in NFL football. Oh, sure, I watch the playoffs, like the playoffs, love them even—but I rarely have a rooting interest. The playoffs have become like this whole other thing, this separate world the Lions don’t belong in . . . it’s almost like a different league. The standings, division races, wild card races? The Lions just aren’t ever a part of them. The Lions logo never appears on my TV under the heading “Playoff Picture,” not even in the crappy column on the right.
But now, the Lions—on the heels of a four-game winning streak—have rejoined the league as a whole. They will enter next season as legitimate playoff contenders—admittedly, a low bar to jump over in today’s NFL. But no matter: for the first time since 2007, and the first time besides that in a decade, the playoffs are relevant to the Lions, and the Lions are relevant to the playoffs.
Between the Bears, Eagles, Packers, Jets, and Patriots, the Lions played five of the eight playoff teams. Against all of them, the Lions were within a score in the fourth quarter. Against some of them, they had a lead. Against the Bears, they won but had the W taken away from them. Against the Packers, they actually really officially won.
Yes, the Lions beat the Packers, a team which is moving on to the second round of the playoffs—and who I, along with many others, thought had the inside track on the NFC Super Bowl berth coming into the season. The last time the Lions beat the eventual Super Bowl winner? 1999, when the Lions beat the Rams, 31-27. In collapsing the big top for the Greatest Show on Turf, the 6-2 Lions beat the 6-2 Rams. Starting QB Charlie Batch got hurt, but Gus Frerotte picked up the slack. The Lions couldn’t run for beans—leading rusher Sedrick Irvin had 4 carries for 10 yards—but sacked Kurt Warner four times, and intercepted him twice. Doesn’t it seem like a century, not a decade, has passed since then?
As cool as it would be for the Lions to break yet another not-since-Millen streak this year, I have to admit I have other reasons for rooting for the Packers. For starters, the Packer blogosphere is one of the best around, both in terms of content and friendliness. Holly over at Cheesehead TV has long been one of this blog’s kindest supporters—and considering the work she does scouring Packer opponents’ sites and blogs, that’s high praise indeed. Larry from Packer Chatters once let me post a Watchtower as an article on their site, which I appreciated greatly (but their commenters didn’t, so much). Aaron Nagler’s Aforementioned Cheesehead TV also gives away the “Titletown Awards” to other Packers blogs and websites, which is a wonderful idea. There’s also C.D. Angeli's Tundra Vision, whose “Am I Still a Fan?” post put on the table some feelings that had been stewing in me for quite some time. The crazy thing is, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the awesomeness of the Packer Blogosphere.
For these fine folks, for some friends and family who count themselves part of the Cheesehead Nation, and for the reflected glory in which the Lions would then bathe, I’m rooting for Lombardi’s team to add another Lombardi trophy to the case. Further, I’m calling for Lions fans who don’t already have an affiliation with a playoff team to join me. Please, let’s let Packers like Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings feel the glory of the mountaintop once—because Ndamukong Suh and the Lions will be king of that mountain for years to come.
Forgive me, I’m terrible at this, what is it the kids say these days, “running smack?” As a Lions fan my default mode is demure submission. Anyway, Go Pack, Go.