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Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Detroit Lions will be the team the NFL, and the rest of America, won’t see coming

Being a lifelong fan of the Detroit Lions is so hard – it sometimes fringes on the barriers of mental illness.

The immense anxiety of all those late-game nailbiters the team has just loved to find themselves in over the years. The ones Matthew Stafford, and to an extent Matt Prater, are practically famous for.

The PTSD and nightmares of picked-up penalty flags and Aaron Rodgers hail marys.

The overall depression from decades of letdowns and being virtually ignored by, seemingly – the entire world.

But in 2019, nearly 90 years since the team was first established, the Lions are going to erupt onto an NFL landscape that won’t even see it coming.

That eruption will – and has to start in the division and the NFC North is considered a death gauntlet this season. The Chicago Bears, a team which kind of surprised many in a way last year, are probably the favorite but I believe their aggressive defense won’t be able to overcome the step back the Mitch Trubisky-led offense will make. And their worst player will be their kicker which will spell a ton of close loses (à la 2014 Lions).

The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers are both dark-horse Super Bowl contenders, partly because no one believes the Lions are. The Pack’s offense and defense will both be average as new head coach Matt LaFleur struggles to inspire his non-beer chugging, ego-driven quarterback.

The Vikings (who’s defense is overrated as is) will present one of the worse offensive lines in the league – a problem Kirk Cousins won’t be able to get around.

So, yeah, what does all this mean? It takes an immense amount of courage right now for me to tell you with a straight face that I truly believe the Detroit Lions will win the NFC North division for the first time since it was called the NFC Central (I was two, I’m now thirty – do the math).

It’s time to spit facts.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is in his mental and physical prime. He has the best offensive line he’s ever had in his decade in Detroit. He has the best running back duo and wide receiver trio he has ever had in Detroit. He has the best tight end group he has ever had in Detroit (T.J. Hockenson is the real deal Holyfield). Darrell Bevell’s job is damn near fool-proof.

THE NFL DOES NOT AND WILL NOT SEE THIS COMING.

Now, the defense – which I firmly believe will be primarily responsible for a swath of Same Old Lions troll-fans (the most depressed among us) chugging giant pitchers of Lions kool-aid and placing Honolulu blue and silver window flags on their F-150’s by Thanksgiving Day.

Do you believe the Lions have the most talented (and stacked) defensive line in the entire NFL this season? I sure as hell do. Do you believe the Lions will have a great, young, tenacious group of linebackers roaming the middle of the field behind that amazing defensive line this season? Count me in again. Do you believe the Lions secondary, which has historically been the worse area of the team, propels the defense to double the 14 measly turnovers the Lions managed to force in 2018? Slay, Walker, Diggs, Adams, Melvin, Oruwariye. Remember those names.

THE NFL DOES NOT AND WILL NOT SEE THIS COMING.

Led by guys like Matt Prater, Sam Martin, Jamal Agnew, and Miles Killebrew – the special teams are in pretty damn good hands as well.

The reality of all this is that every Lions fan, deep down, know these things and are excited. They wouldn’t dare let that excitement boil into the braggadocio of this article. Partly because of being stung in the past by false hope but also because of the rest of the league who would simply ignore and laugh us off. I haven’t even dare give an opposing team’s fan my record prediction for the season as of yet (there you have it, 11-5).

Detroit would show the world that it’s sports fans are still some of the best in the world; a Super Bowl parade in 2020 would be Cubs 2016, Cavaliers 2016 in comparison, down the Motor City’s main thoroughfare – Woodward Ave.

THE NFL DOES NOT AND WILL NOT SEE THIS COMING. The only ones that will see this coming are a few loyal fans out there that the Detroit Lions have made crazy enough over the years – with the anxiety, PTSD and depression of it all – to believe this.

Myself, obviously included.

 

 

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Julius Porter
Julius was born and raised on the east side of Detroit. He discovered his love for sports writing while attending his alma mater Warren Fitzgerald High School. He served honorably for eight years in the United States Army. Follow Julius on Twitter @TheFifthTop

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