The Detroit Lions, now 8-4, prepare for the lowly 2-10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this upcoming Sunday at Ford Field.
The Buccaneers painfully embarrassed the Lions last season, defeating them 24-21, starting the infamous 2013 collapse, in which Detroit finished 1-7 down the stretch, missing a golden opportunity for the playoffs. Detroit entered into a tailspin they just couldn’t pull away from. The Lions were a major disappointment, falling to beatable teams, while continuing their trend as second-half choke artists.
This year, beating Tampa Bay is more than just a win; it’s proving a second-half collapse isn’t in their plans this time around. It’s proving that this year’s Detroit Lions have hurdled those past demons, have taken the steps to finally show they can win.
Jim Caldwell’s done quite a wonderful job with the Lions, as their 8-4 record already surpasses their win total of last season. Caldwell needs to prove that his platoon can maintain their determination and drive; otherwise, they’ll go down in the history books as the “Same Old Lions.”
Detroit’s last win in 2013 came on Thanksgiving, where they demolished the Green Bay Packers 40-10. Detroit’s last win this season (so far) was another demolition of a division rival, the Chicago Bears, 34-17. After Detroit’s 2013 Thanksgiving victory, they dropped their next four straight. Now, Detroit has four games left this season, starting with the Buccaneers at home.
Point blank: the Lions must win. Dropping this game would be inexcusable. Detroit is the superior team, has something to play for, and has a stout defense that should shatter Tampa Bay’s offense. The Lions can no longer allow teams to linger, or play down to competition. If they wish to be considered as contenders, and want the football world to respect them, they’ll win. Period. And they’ll win in a convincing fashion. Tampa Bay couldn’t score more than 13 points against the horrible Bears’ defense. This isn’t a team that can do much. This isn’t a team that should trot out of Ford Field with a victory.
It’s time for quarterback Matthew Stafford to shun the critics, silencing their remarks about his second-half play. Stafford is historically bad in December — and so are the Lions. This December, through the cold Detroit weather, the Lions need to kindle their own fire, starting with a win this Sunday.
Green Bay leads the division by one game. If the Lions want their finale in Lambeau Field to be an epic showdown for the NFC North Division, it’ll start with a victory against the Buccaneers. Detroit will face the Minnesota Vikings at home, and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, before heading to Wisconsin.
These next three games are winnable; Detroit needs to stake their claim as a good team, beating weaker opponents. If the Lions really are different, they’ll show it this Sunday. If they really aren’t going to collapse, they’ll handle the Buccaneers, sending them home with a big L.
Otherwise, Detroit will hear the echos of “Same Old Lions” throughout the motor city until next season.