As Cowboys fans, there are certain teams that we are mandated to love to hate – all NFC East teams, the Steelers, and maybe the 49ers and Packers. Some of us might also despise other teams for more personal reasons. For example, I believe that the New England Patriots – their coach, their quarterback, their fans, etc - are evil incarnate.
This year, I’ve added another NFL team to my naughty list – the Detroit Lions. Sure, they were cute when they started off 5-0, and the possibility of them finally having a decent team after years of utter incompetence and decades without an NFL championship warmed the hearts of football fans everywhere. But then came the infamous 34-30 lucky win over Dallas, and suddenly my perception changed.
It didn’t help when head coach Jim Schwartz went apesh*t when Dez Bryant’s sideline grab late in the game was overturned. Things grew worse in my estimation when Schwartz threw a hissyfit over Jim Harbaugh’s overzealous post-game handshake a couple weeks later. Then several Lions repeatedly and apparently mocked Tim Tebow’s faith as they crushed the Broncos. By the way, Tebow is now 4-3 in his first seven NFL starts, while Stafford was 1-6, and Tebow didn’t have Calvin Johnson as a target.
These Lions have been compared in some circles to the young 90s Cowboys, especially with their potential "Triplets" in QB Matt Stafford, WR Calvin Johnson and RB Jahvid Best (ok, maybe not Best). But could you ever imagine Aikman, as fierce a competitor as there ever was in a Cowboys uniform, ever pulling a stunt like Stafford apparently did against the Bears yesterday? Heck, could you even imagine Romo making a cheapshot like that? No way. Romo might be a goofball, but he’s no d-bag. Of course, Stafford had two interceptions returned for TDs against the Bears, so I guess he does have a little something in common with Romo.
I got into it a little bit with Lions posters before the Dallas game, and noted for the record that their fast start may be a bit of a mirage because they hadn't played any quality QBs, their running game is wretched, and their special teams were awful. Here it is five games later, and they've lost to quality QBs like Cutler and Matt Ryan, and have yet to face Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers (2x), Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer; their running game is near the bottom of the league at just 93 yards per game, and they are giving up 15.7 yards per punt return and 27.2 yards each kickoff return. Oh, and the perenially brittle Stafford apparently suffered a broken finger on his throwing hand yesterday.
So what began as a great 5-0 start has deteriorated into a 6-3 record, three games behind the Packers and barely ahead of the 6-3 Bears, who are red-hot all of a sudden. The Lions still have a shot of making the playoffs, and good for them if they do. They still have to play the Packers twice, the Saints and tough opponents like the Chargers and Raiders. In my ideal world, the Cowboys and the Lions would meet in the postseason, and Detroit would have to come up with solutions to DeMarco Murray, Miles Austin and a rejuvenated Romo. Good luck with that prospect. There’s some unfinished business to be taken care of, not only from this season’s earlier debacle, but from a certain divisional playoff game from exactly 20 years ago, so I would welcome such a matchup. More important, I bet the entire Dallas Cowboys squad would as well.