It smells so good. It tastes so good. It feels so good. After what feels like an eight-month-long slumber, I wake with my morning coffee; we have our first Three Cups Deep of the season. There is Lions football to talk about.
I went with my son, and it was an awesome experience. Everything went exactly according to script: Matthew Stafford was powerful and precise, Ndamukong Suh was disruptive and devastating, and the Lions laid lumber to a reeling Bengals franchise. Things went about as right as they could possibly go for the Lions—including some favorable calls and bounces—but crucially, they capitalized on those opportunities. They put the game out of reach and kept it out of reach; the Lions’ twos and threes and fours dominated just as the ones did.
It’s tempting to either write this performance off completely, or assign it way too much value. As the first game in the preseason, neither team was scheming or gameplanning. The Lions were engaged in a pure talent vs. talent struggle, and the Bengals have just lost many of their most talented players. Still, though, this is important in itself: the Lions are significantly more talented, top to bottom, than some other NFL teams. The crucial question: how many of the teams they play this year will they outclass like that?
As I said in this week's Fireside Chat, I’m really struggling to control my expectations. I’ve already said the Lions are going to make the playoffs, and I’ve already gone on record saying the Lions will go 10-6 if Matthew Stafford stays healthy. Honestly, the ceiling’s even higher—if last year’s Bears can win eleven games, so can this year’s Lions.
That having been said, we’ve seen the Lions look good in the preseason before—and recently, we’ve seen them dismantle teams with rookie quarterbacks in the regular season. So, I’m not going to analyze it to death, and I’m not going to proclaim anything dramatic has been revealed about this team. Let’s just enjoy this game for what it is: a great performance, an awesome moment, and a fantastic preview of what will be the best Lions season in twenty years.