Three Cups Deep: Preseason, Lions vs. Bengals

>> 8.15.2011

Coffee, by Martin Gommel

Coffee, by Martin Gommel

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.

5 comments:

popeww,  August 15, 2011 at 8:50 AM  

hey ty. i have to say i think you're getting a bit carried away. yes, we finished strong last year, but our now-healthy offensive starters still need to learn how to win together.

stafford, pettigrew, best, burleson, and calvin have not won many games together. the talent is obvious, the coaching is great (especially linehan,) but i still sadly think they'll find a way to lose 2 or 3 that they might have won (like the jets game in 2010) and finish with 8 wins.

that will still be a step forward.

i especially want to see stafford play 16 (don't we all) and finish around 4,000 yards 35 TD's and 15 INT's, and announce his presence has a premier QB. This will help us a LOT with the officials on calls like "the process" and people taking shots at stafford.

this is not a 'setting the bar low' reverse good luck strategy. i really think people are expecting too much for us to go from 2 wins to 6 wins to 11 wins in consecutive seasons. i think 2,6,8,12 is much more reasonable. the foundation is growing and getting stronger, but it's not an 11 win foundation.

but i will say i haven't been excited about any lion in my lifetime (32 years) as i am about stafford. he has every throw in the book, he has all the arm you could want, he has so much heart and determination. i don't think even the most black hearted bears fan could be hoping for him to get injured again. but if he does..... what a heart breaker that would be.

no matter what, though, this is going to be one hell of an exciting season and i think the lions will be in the hunt for most of it, which is more than we've had since that 6-2 start.

btw i'm going to the monday night game week 5, and we are truly going to blow the roof off that mother.

Jon August 15, 2011 at 1:33 PM  

@poppew,

The Lions have already learned how to win as evidenced by the last 4 games of the season. They didn't better as they did at the beginning of the season. They were a similar team who has done well for most of the season but they weren't able to close out games like the Jets game, Cowboys game, etc. The difference between middle of the season and the end of the season, they have learned how to close out games.

My expectation is a minimum of 8 wins but I expect them to win at least 10 games. They have the talent to do it and the Lions will go as far as Stafford will take them(obviously).

anthonytimlin,  August 15, 2011 at 10:57 PM  

@popeww

I think it's helpful to look at the Lions' actual schedule rather than just talk about expectations based on the team's merit alone...

DET @ TB - W
KC @ DET - W
DET @ MIN - W
DET @ DAL - L
CHI @ DET - W
SF @ DET - W
ATL @ DET - L
DET @ DEN - W
BYE
DET @ CHI - W
CAR @ DET - W
GB @ DET - W
DET @ NO - L
MIN @ DET - W
DET @ OAK - L
SD @ DET - L
DET @ GB - L

Record : 10 - 6

I don't think any of those wins are far fetched and and I think the losses will be close. Now if you want to make a case for an 8 - 8 season you can make it on a game to game basis...

popeww,  August 16, 2011 at 2:30 PM  

i sure will:

DET@TB - L
KC@DET - L
DET@MIN -W
DET@DAL -W
CHI@DET -W
SF@DET -W
ATL@DET -L
DET@DEN -W
DET@CHI -W
CAR@DET -W
GB@DET -L
DET@NO -L
MIN@DET -W
DET@OAK -W
SD@DET -L
DET@GB -L

9-7, not bad. i think you having us open 2-0 is ridiculous. i agree on close losses.

we won't beat GB without injuring rodgers
we might lose to OAK on travel alone, DMC also

i have us losing 3 home games, to atl, kc, and gb. those teams have more talent and depth than we have. home field might save us, but you cant count on it.

anthonytimlin,  August 16, 2011 at 5:16 PM  

The Lions were worse off last year and beat a better Tampa team. In fact, the only reason this game was so close was because of Tampa's run game which the Lions should be able to contain this year. Josh Freeman is a good, mobile quarterback and is certainly capable of leading the Bucs to a victory here, but it won't happen.

The KC game will be close but the reason I think Detroit will be able to pull it off is because they will be able to get into Matt Cassel's head and shut him down. I think it's a stretch, but the Lions will pull off the upset.

As for the Dallas game I think it will be a shoot out which Dallas will be able to close out with their run game (which will be significantly better this year). Another close one, but I don't think the Lions take this one.

I think the Lions beat GB at home by a close margin. Rodgers is certainly a top 3 QB, but the Lions pass rush and improved secondary will keep him in check. Also Finley will be injured by now so we won't have him to deal with.

Whether it's 9-7, 10-6 or 12-4... I think the Lions certainly do better than 8-8 provided Stafford stays in the game. 8-8 if we have to rely on Hill.

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