Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Great Expectations or The Return of the Predictions Recap

Roary, stylin'. Also, behind those glassy eyes of a stoner lies a dangerous assassin.

I thought about doing this last week and then I just . . . didn’t. Then I thought about scrapping the whole predictions thing entirely but I have instead decided to do it off and on. Some weeks it will be here and some weeks it won’t, depending on whether or not I have something else substantial to write about. For instance, last week I had the whole clock management thing to rant and rave about but this week there really isn’t anything like that to pound away at so instead you get an egotistical recap of my game predictions. Lucky you! (Wait, come back . . .) This is because I’m trying to keep my writing about the Lions limited to the game preview, the game recap and then one piece in between (with maybe the occasional tale of The Great Willie Young thrown in whenever I feel like it.) Some of you will remember that I wrote something about the Lions every day last season and so you might be a tad bit disappointed that I’m slacking off a bit this year (Or maybe you’re happy not to have more bullshit gibberish to read. Who knows?) but here’s the thing – last season burnt me the fuck out. There’s a reason why I didn’t write much about the Lions during the offseason. Sure, sure, the lockout provided an unseemly cover for my lack of gibberish, but the truth is that I had just spent an entire season writing 80 novels worth of material about the Lions and goddammit, I felt like I’d exhausted both the topic and myself. So . . . yeah, I still plan on writing a lot, but I don’t want to have the same thing happen this year. That may sound like a lot of dumb whining and I don’t blame you for being annoyed right now. I mean, I don’t blame you for not caring about any of this, but fuck it, I felt like an explanation was in order so you at least knew what to expect. I suspect most people just read the previews and recaps and then ignore all this weird shit midweek, but I know some of you read everything and so this is directed more at you dudes and lady dudes. I am eternally grateful that you guys read – and hopefully like – anything that I write and so I felt like I owed you some sort of explanation. But this is all dumb and vaguely shameful and I apologize. Let’s just get on with it, shall we?

PREDICTION THE FIRST: Matthew Stafford will have another big day, throwing for 335 yards and 3 touchdowns. He won’t throw an interception and his numbers will be slightly deflated when the Lions sit on a lead for much of the fourth quarter, causing me to write another bitchy post next week.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Well, Stafford threw for 294 yards and 4 touchdowns. He did throw an interception and his numbers were slightly deflated, not by the fact that the Lions were sitting on a lead for much of the fourth quarter but for several different reasons. First of all, Stafford spent the beginning of the game frustratingly inaccurate. By the time the game was over, he had completed 23 of 39 passes, good for a 59% completion rate, which is actually kind of mediocre. Had he been able to complete, say, 65% of his passes – which is closer to what will probably end up being a normal game for him – that would be approximately 3 extra completions, which would have netted him anywhere from probably 30-50 yards total, bringing him into the 325-350 yard range for the game. Second, he had a couple of big time throws wiped away thanks to terrible penalties. Third, his numbers were slightly depressed because he spent the last few minutes of the game standing on the sideline with a baseball cap on his head, pretending to be interested in what Drew Stanton had to say while Shaun Hill handed the ball off on the field. Taken as a whole, I feel like I nailed this prediction – if not in exact numbers then at least in spirit. But more importantly, I think this game showed that the potential is always there for Stafford to throw for 300-400 yards whenever he wants. He wasn’t even that sharp in this game and he still kicked everyone’s ass and probably slept with Todd Haley’s wife after the game while Todd sobbed in the corner and pawed at the ghost of his stolen manhood. Now, I’m not saying that definitely happened. That would be irresponsible of me. I’m just saying that would be the most logical conclusion based on the available evidence. I am, after all, a man of science.

PREDICTION THE SECOND: St. Calvin will play and will catch 6 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: St. Calvin caught only 3 passes for 29 yards, but he did catch two touchdowns. Okay, so I was a little bit off with the numbers here, but I was honestly surprised they were that low. In my head, and after watching the game, I figured that they would be similar to what I predicted. That’s because it felt like St. Calvin came up big in this game. Those two touchdown catches were both huge, including one on 4th down which tore the heart out of the Chiefs. The plays he did make were big and everyone was always aware that he was on the field. His presence was bigger than his numbers, which is part of what makes St. Calvin so great. He doesn’t necessarily need to catch the ball 10 times in order to have a big game. He changes the game just by virtue of being on the field. He allows Nate Burleson to catch the ball 7 times or Titus Young to pick up 89 yards on 5 catches. His presence opens up the field for everyone else and when it’s money time – when it’s time to make a do or die play – Calvin comes up huge. He’s the exclamation point on every drive. He’s the hand of steel reaching into the enemy’s chest and squeezing their heart until it pops. He already has 4 touchdowns this season, has made a couple of ridiculous catches and, just like Stafford, he hasn’t even been at his best yet. Jesus, that is a frightening thought, and yet it’s true. When he and Stafford get completely locked in, I . . . just . . . I . . . I’ll be right back, I need to take a cold shower and then dip my genitals in a bucket of ice.

PREDICTION THE THIRD: Jahvid Best will run the ball 22 times for 96 yards and a touchdown. He’ll also catch 4 passes for 48 yards.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Best rushed 16 times for 57 yards and a touchdown. He caught 6 passes for 66 yards and another touchdown. Alright, so I missed the mark a bit here, but Best’s numbers were slightly depressed because he spent the last half of the fourth quarter sipping Mai-Tais on the sideline with Matthew Stafford and eyeing Todd Haley’s elderly mother. Add in Keiland Williams’ numbers and you get 25 carries for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns, which . . . eh, not great, but close to what I predicted. The simple fact is that the Lions yards per carry number is not going to be so hot this season. We’re going to see a lot of 1 yard runs and runs for no gain because the line still can’t really impose its will on opposing defenses in the run game. But it doesn’t have to either. The Lions so far have run the ball just well enough for it to give defenses pause, which is all it needs to do. The Lions offensive identity is built around Matthew Stafford and the pass. That’s just the way it is. They’re a pass first team. The run is the changeup. But I’ve been saying this for two years now, so . . . yeah. Jahvid Best will hit some homeruns. He’s too good not to and when he does, those per carry numbers will bump up a bit. This is not a team that is going to bruise its way down the field, picking up 6 yards at a time. That doesn’t mean that the run game isn’t effective. It just means that’s not the team’s identity. Can they run it better than they did against the Chiefs? Yeah, I think so. But anyone expecting them to run it 40 times for 185 yards every game is delusional.

PREDICTION THE FOURTH: Matt Cassel will be found wandering naked and confused after the game, smeared with his own feces outside of Ford Field. He will be taken to a local homeless shelter and then fed to the Coyotes wandering the city streets. The Chiefs will file an official protest with the league but Sheriff Goodell will be too scared to set foot in the streets of Detroit and will be heard muttering nervous gibberish about Robocop. The matter will eventually be forgotten except for by Todd Haley, who will spend the next several months looking for answers. He will be found floating in the Detroit River next May. No one in Kansas City will care.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Every single word I wrote came true. Okay, okay, some of it can’t be true yet because it takes place in the future, but what if I told you I was in possession of a time machine? Now do you believe me? Sure, I had to do unspeakable things with Doc Brown – dark, terrible things, the man is a degenerate freak – in order to earn a ride in his DeLorean, but it was all worth it just to know the truth. After all, you can’t put a price on something like that. Or at least I keep telling myself that when I go to sit down and end up weeping in pain. Doc Brown, you have ruined me! I still dream of your white mane flowing in my face, suffocating me while my hips burn and my [redacted for gross indecency]. Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I have to go shower again. Yes, that’s shower number two during this post, but cleanliness is next to godliness and I’ve been so, so dirty . . .

PREDICTION THE FIFTH: Jamaal Charles will run for 70 yards on only 14 carries as the Lions establish a big lead and then spend the rest of the game parading around Ford Field with a pike up Matt Cassel’s ass. His howls of pain and screams for mercy will cause Fox to be sued for indecency.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Well, uh, Jamaal Charles ran the ball only twice for 27 yards before he was beaten to death by Roary, the Lions mascot. Indeed. I don’t even know that I can come up with anything weirder or funnier than that. I will say this: the Chiefs were able to run the ball effectively during the first quarter, enough so that it has caused me to worry a bit about the Lions run defense. But here’s the thing: the Lions defense is built around two preeminent concepts – speed and aggression. The way the Chiefs run the ball is designed to effectively turn those two strengths against the Lions. Jamaal Charles, Dexter McCluster and backs like that rely a lot on cutbacks and misdirection to gain the bulk of their yardage, two things which the Lions are prone to due to their aggressive, attacking style. Ndamukong Suh might barrel three yards into the backfield but that doesn’t help a whole lot if the running back is able to find an open cutback lane. Against teams like the Chiefs, I’d like to see the Lions maintain their aggression while keeping an eye on the backdoor. That is kind of a hard thing to ask though and so I think we might have to learn to live with shit like this happening. It sounds like an easy thing to ask, but doing so would threaten to change the team’s entire mental approach which I’m not ready to start fucking with yet, you know? I don’t want them slowing down just to accommodate some ideal, an ideal which may not even be attainable. Don’t try to do everything all at once. Learn how to dominate first. Then start adding in those little nuances which turn domination into flawless victory.

Also, I feel like I should devote more time to discussing Roary destroying Jamaal Charles. I mean, that shit actually happened. It did. Jamaal Charles ran out of bounds, barreled into Roary and ended up getting hauled off the field as a casualty of war. Sure, sure, the actual injury may have happened while Charles was slowing up in his attempt to avoid Roary, but that just proves that Charles was afraid of Roary. He knew what would happen if that stoned son of a bitch (just look at his eyes . . .) got his hands on him and his knee committed suicide in a vain attempt to avoid his savage destiny. But destiny will catch us all before the end, and for Jamaal Charles, his destiny caught up with him while he lay writhing in agony on the turf of Ford Field, while that iron hearted warrior named Roary rose like a colossal Phoenix above his dying body, mocking Jamaal Charles’ insignificant mortality. And in that moment, Jamaal Charles looked into those hooded eyes of Roary and he saw the truth laid bare. He saw the heart of a god and then he shit his pants. It’s true. You can trust me, I am both a scientist and a holy man. In me all truths are wed and finally, all of you know what I have known all along, which is that Roary is indeed none other than the resurrected spirit of the Great Willie Young’s father, the Cheetah God, born again as a Lion. Don’t deny it. You know it’s true. All the evidence is there.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Lions 31, Chiefs 17 (And it’s only that close because I figure the Lions will ease off and sit on the lead in the 4th quarter and the Chiefs will get at least one garbage touchdown.)

ACTUAL FINAL SCORE: Lions 48, Chiefs 3. Let me repeat that for you: LIONS 48, CHIEFS 3. Oh, and, uh, I may have been just a tad wrong about that whole Lions easing off and sitting on the lead thing. Just a tad. Although, I will say this: a tiny part of me was actually disappointed that the Lions didn’t go for 55 just because. I know that’s bad form, but fuck it, the fire in my heart overcame me and I became a lustful beast. I can’t help it. That part of me has been starved for so long that it has become wild and ravenous and when it sees a chance to feed it detaches from that which is human inside of me and I become more human than human and I start visualizing Todd Haley naked, covered in blood, being driven through the streets of Detroit like an ancient Roman prisoner, being whipped and pelted with garbage and I start howling for the blood of my enemies and when I wake up from this blood fever I am naked and my body is sizzling in the woods and there is a corpse of a dead rabbit in my hands, half-eaten and I feel ashamed because I am a vegan and then I must spend the rest of the night flogging myself in self-punishment and weeping blood tears, begging forgiveness for my inhumanity, but that is my cross to bear and not yours. I did not ask for this but like Jesus once said, with great power comes great responsibility and I can only hope one day to channel that starved frenzied Lions fan inside of me into a champion of good, much like The Great Willie Young or Roary or the Incredible Hulk or Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. Don’t cry for me, Argentina. Cry for that poor rabbit. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, much like the Chiefs were on Sunday against my beloved Lions.


Bubbalouuey said...

Damn, I'm going to start drinkimg that same shit you do Neil. I'm happy as hell I found this place, I saw Bobby Laynes last pass for the Lions and also saw Scott Mitchell break Laynes TD for the season record in Houston so I've been around a little bit. Keep up the work, hold to the faith, redemtion is nigh, This week Titus is all over the VIQUEENS and scores 3 TD's

Neil said...

Hell yeah, man. I'm glad you found us too. I'm always in awe of fans who have seen - and lived - it all, like you have. Fans like you are our beating heart.