It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Here we are, one more time, just playing out the string. There’s no excitement, no sense that this game against the Bears means anything. It just feels like an exercise in slow torture, the weekly reminder that not only did this season go completely off the rails, it then tumbled over a cliff, where it burst into flames before being pissed on by a mountain goat. There will be no anger if the Lions lose against the Bears. Not really, anyway. The time for anger, for disappointment, for sadness, has passed, left behind in the brutal wreckage of yet another ruined season. Now, we are just wandering around in a daze, waiting for someone to take us by the hand and lead us to . . . to . . . anywhere, really. Anywhere but here.
There’s not a lot to talk about. All of the themes have been burned out, the season is officially just a wasteland filled with the charred bones of the dead, the fans are still watching because, hell, that’s just what you do, and . . . yeah. There are 5 games left, and I could pump myself up by reciting statistics to myself that prove that things are better, things like the Lions being first in the NFC in scoring offense at home this season. I could do that, and I could slap myself in the face and gnaw on the adrenal gland of a wild gorilla, but what’s the point? The season is over, Drew Stanton is our starting quarterback and the world keeps spinning, spinning, spinning . . .
Right. Emo Neil isn’t very much fun, but I dove into this season headfirst. Actually, that’s not accurate. I dove into this season heart first and I have been here, swinging wildly and ranting belligerently the whole time. I have been on the front lines of fandom and I have gotten my ass whipped because of it. But so what? These are strange and terrible times and these things do indeed happen. The thing is, though, is that given all of that, it would be completely disingenuous of me now to stand up and pretend to play cheerleader. I am not filled with hope. I am not excited. I am just sort of gritting my teeth and staring straight ahead as I hurtle headlong into the sun.
So why bother? Because fuck it, that’s why. Because this is my team and I am a stubborn son of a bitch and when my face starts to melt from the heat of that hell sun, I will do my best to shape what’s left of that face into an indignant smile and when the Failure Demons sift through our ashes and our melted faces, their own coal black hearts filled with hateful joy, I hope that they will find my ruined and melted face and they will recoil in horror and wonder when they see my lips curled up in an awful smile.
I’m not giving up but I harbor no illusions here either. We died this season and we died in ways that would horrify Hitler. What’s left of my hope is reserved for the ever popular next year. So, what’s left? Well, we have to find our own reasons to care each game. We have to find the tiny little embers that still live in our wounded hearts and we have to stoke them until we convince ourselves – rationally or irrationally – that we care about what happens on Sunday.
This Sunday, it should be easy. After all, the Chicago Bears come to town, and right away each and every one of you should be picturing St. Calvin soaring into the air at the end of the 4th quarter in week 1, snatching the ball, and tumbling into the endzone with a touchdown. And then all of you should be picturing the idiot refs gibbering on about “completing the process” and then you should all remember the giant talking hell head of Mike Pereira explaining why it was just and right to fuck us so heinously and then you should all remember the Bears celebrating a victory and then your hearts should burn white hot with hatred and . . . well, here we are.
I want the Lions to beat the Bears on Sunday and I want them to beat them in an ugly and brutal way. I want to see Jay Cutler standing slackjawed on the sideline, and I want to see Rod Marinelli and Mike Martz fight each other while Lovie Smith stares a million miles into the distance. I want the Bears blood. Nothing will ever make up for what happened against them in Week 1. Nothing. But vengeance is often pale and ugly and meaningless. We may be damned to hell, but by God, we should take those sons of bitches with us.
Can we? Well . . . uh . . . Drew Stanton says probably not. The idea that the offense could function with any sort of consistency with Ol’ Plucky at the helm is fairly laughable. Which is a problem when you consider that the secondary has some sort of Flowers for Algernon thing going on and Kyle VandenBosch is out and . . . ugh.
Indeed. Whatever progress the defense seemed to have made earlier in the season, when they inexplicably acquired huge doses of Swagger, seems to have utterly vanished. Alphonso Smith was stripped naked on national television on Thanksgiving and was led around the field by a collar and spanked by Tom Brady in fast motion while Yakety Sax played like one of those Benny Hill skits. Chris Houston has stopped intercepting passes and reverted back to his “Oh shit, where the fuck is the ball?” form. Julian Peterson’s reputation died the moment he slammed into LaDanian Tomlinson after Tomlinson had already run out of bounds. Houston and Corey Smith spent their time after the last game bitching about everyone else on defense and . . . well, those few weeks being a genius were fun, but I guess the Lions decided to return to the nice, safe, comfortable life of a dullard janitor. (Is it a sign of progress that I am now comparing the Lions players to the main character in Flowers for Algernon rather than to Lennie Small? Maybe next year I can bump them up to Forrest Gump status. At least he was good at football.)
Ndamukong Suh is still there and he is still raising hell, but it isn’t enough. With Stanton in at quarterback, the Lions defense has to be dominant, and . . . well, I just don’t see that happening, do you? I suppose some pressure could be taken off of Stanton if the Lions leaned on their running game, and . . . sorry, I had to pause for a few minutes because I was hyperventilating because I was both laughing and crying too hard.
I could pick apart the Bears and look for reasons why they could lose, but . . . DREW STANTON. Yeah. There is simply too much that the Lions have to overcome. They have absolutely been broken by the Failure Demons, who have just piled on one terrible thing after another. There is simply nowhere left to go, no one to turn to in the hopes of inspiring some sort of miracle. There is just this last grim run towards death, towards the hell sun that keeps getting closer and closer and all we can do is grit our teeth, try to smile and maybe curl what’s left of our hands into one last middle finger salute, so that when they find our bodies, they will know that although they may have destroyed us, they did not beat us. This is Sisu and I haven’t forgotten.
FIVE NO DOUBT TERRIBLE PREDICTIONS
1. Stanton will complete 20 of 38 passes for 215 yards, 1 touchdown . . . and 3 interceptions.
2. Jahvid Best won’t play much and again Maurice Morris will prove to be the most effective running back the Lions have left. The Lions will try to lean on the run more to take some of the pressure off of Stanton, but it won’t matter, as the Lions will struggle to run the ball. Morris will run for 50 yards on 12 carries while Aaron Brown will gain only 20 yards on 10 carries.
3. St. Calvin will catch only 4 passes for 85 yards. He’ll have one big play, but for the most part he’ll be limited by Stanton throwing Grit balls in his direction.
4. Jay Cutler will complete 30 of 42 passes for 325 yards and 3 touchdowns and we’ll all continue to wonder what in the hell happened to the secondary and someone will go crazy and actually try to claim that C.C. Brown going down was the turning point in the season.
5. Matt Forte will rush for 110 yards on only 17 carries, and he’ll catch 6 passes for another 85 yards. He’ll account for 2 touchdowns.
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: BEARS 28, LIONS 17