Jesus, it feels like the game against the Panthers just ended and here I am already writing about the Thanksgiving game. Naturally, my head still hasn’t completely cleared from Sunday, but what the hell, you’re used to having to sift through the rubble of my broken mind and so this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. It would be more troubling if I wrote this clearheaded, sober minded with a zealous devotion to the Lords of Clarity, and . . . shit, I’m already rambling like a lunatic and this thing just got started. It might not go well. I’m just warning you.
Yeah . . . well, anyway, in years past I have taken this opportunity to stick up for Detroit (both as a city itself and as an idea, which is where the true power of Detroit lies, but don’t get me started on that shit or we’ll be here all day) and to viciously abuse all those dumb savages who lazily make fun of the Lions and talk shit and whine about us having the Thanksgiving early game every year, but fuck those people because this season the Lions have made their gibberish irrelevant with their play on the field and I don’t have to waste all of my time explaining that the Lions fucking invented football on Thanksgiving and that everyone should be giving thanks that Robocop doesn’t show up at their door to shoot them in their vile faces for their vicious slander and mean foolishness.
No, I don’t have to do all that this year, which is probably for the best because I’m in a good mood and I don’t need to be dragged into an ugly war which would probably culminate in me calling Chris Berman or someone a worthless cocksucker and gibbering about torturing Rick Reilly by shoving mashed potatoes in his anus until he wept and begged for mercy. Terrible, terrible . . . and no one needs that during this season of thanks, family, friendship and togetherness. Hell no. That shit would be unseemly.
Instead, we should focus on that which brings us together as a people, namely a disdain for those heathen sons of bitches from Green Bay. I have always disliked the Packers – naturally – and I take great joy whenever they are not doing well. The problem, of course, is that this season they are doing somewhere between well and HOLY SHIT I THINK AARON RODGERS JUST TURNED INTO A BEING OF PURE LIGHT AND ASCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS AND NOW HE’S THE NEW SUN GOD which is a problem because the Lions have to play the Packers and Aaron Rodgers twice and I don’t care how much better you’ve gotten, trying to defeat Sun Gods is a fool’s enterprise, one that will likely leave said fool gibbering and pooping himself as he’s being incinerated.
But fuck all that. Taking on a Sun God may be a fool’s game, but sometimes it is the fool who saves the rest of the world, because sometimes it is only the fool who doesn’t understand that he shouldn’t war with the gods and therefore it is the fool who is the only one who dares step to the unsteppable. (Yes, autocorrect, you vicious fucker, I typed unsteppable, not unstoppable. I know what I’m doing, you asshole.) And that’s the amusingly absurd little secret that lies at the heart of this tale – only a great fool would think that he could stop the Green Bay Packers on their march to glory and that means that only a great fool is actually capable of stopping the Packers. Therefore, in order to beat the Packers, a team has to play like they just don’t give a fuck. They have to run hard, hit harder, live until they die and then spit up blood and laugh in the face of Death when he comes to claim their souls.
Look, I’m not even entirely sure where I’m going with this. I suspect that I am kind of just making fun of both the Packers unbeatable image and the Lions image as swashbuckling jackoffs with nothing between their ears other than bloodlust and a blinking neon light that just says KILL in big capital letters. If that’s the way that people want to frame this, then that’s fine because, like I said, it’s the swashbuckling fool who ultimately kills a god. Achilles was killed by a shitty arrow shot to the heel, after all. He wasn’t killed by Hector’s brave and noble stand.
Again, I’m not quite sure what I’m blathering about. This is what happens when you realize that you need to write something even though you really haven’t had time to think about the game yet. I suppose I am saying that I am fine with the existing storyline because it is utterly meaningless and in the end, gods and fools are just men who throw footballs and try to tackle one another and in the simplicity of that truth, anything is possible.
Can the Lions beat the Packers? Absolutely. Will they? Eh, probably not. But you know what? None of that matters. Predictions, hopes, dreams, fears . . . all just meaningless noise set adrift in a universe that doesn’t give a fuck about any of it. When that ball is kicked off on Thursday the only thing that will matter is that there are two teams assembled across from one another and they alone will control their various fates. It doesn’t matter what I think and it doesn’t matter what you feel. What we want is irrelevant and the past is just a collection of semi-useful facts and the future is just a vague idea.
If you can’t tell, I am basically just free-writing this fucking thing, barely even pausing to read what it is that I just wrote before I fly on to the next stray and stupid thought and I would apologize but sometimes this is the only way to find the heart of some forgotten truth. It’s possible – hell, probable – that this will all just be meaningless drivel when I finally finish writing it but there’s also a possibility that it will end up meaning everything. The only way to tell is if I keep writing, if I keep just word-punching my way through to the end. And so it is with the Lions on Thursday. They don’t know whether their efforts will just be a dumb, meaningless cosmic joke, utterly irrelevant in the face of some giant steamroller from Green Bay destined to win everything there is to win, or whether they will somehow be rewarded and one lucky, wild joyful glorious punch will land and they will somehow end up dancing with wild, reckless joy while Aaron Rodgers and his crew stagger off the field, heads bowed in defeat. The only way to know for sure is to just keep punching, man. Just keep punching and see what happens.
After all, it could happen. I mean, why not? People forget that this Lions team completely stonewalled the Packers 7-3 towards the end of last season. Yeah, Aaron Rodgers missed half of that game but that’s because the Lions beat the shit out of him and concussed him. It doesn’t really matter that he didn’t play the second half because in the first half the Lions wouldn’t let him do a damn thing. I mean, the stark, ridiculous facts are these – the Lions beat the Packers just as the Packers were gearing up for their Super Bowl run and they did it with Drew Stanton – Drew fucking Stanton! – as their quarterback. Like I said, sometimes it takes a damn fool.
Prior to that, the Lions were a Charles Woodson non-call on obvious pass interference away from driving down the field and taking the Packers out in Green Bay behind another quarterback named Shaun Hill. The point is, is that for all of the Packers supposed greatness the last couple of seasons, the Lions sure as hell seemed to have figured them out. And yeah, you can say that the Packers took things to a whole new level this season, but hey, last time I looked, the Lions weren’t rolling into this game with either Shaun Hill or Drew Stanton at quarterback, you know? Instead, they have Matthew Stafford, Matty Fire and Ice, leading the way and for as better as the Packers seem to be this season, the Lions are even that much better than they were when they upset the Packers last year. I’m not saying this means that the Lions are definitely going to beat the Packers. That would be dumb. All I’m saying is, hey, why not? Anyone saying that the Lions definitely can’t beat the Packers is even dumber.
I suppose the whole thing hinges on the Holy Shoulder of Matty Fire and Ice (You’re goddamn right I’ll shamefully steal from my own commenters when it comes to nicknames and the like. Our relationship is symbiotic and strange and sometimes I’m the shark and sometimes I’m the Pilot Fish. This is just the way it goes and this is also why I love you all.) We need more of the Fire and less of the Ice if we’re truly going to do this thing. I think the defense actually matches up well against Rodgers and his bazillion receivers – well as much as such a thing is possible, anyway – especially since the Lions defensive line, when they’re on, are capable of catching and skinning alive a cheetah. They can – and I think they will – get enough pressure on Rodgers to disrupt the Packers passing game. (This is the part that everyone should cut and paste and use to relentlessly mock me when Rodgers throws for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns and Eric Wright is dragged away weeping and insane. Don’t worry about thanking me, I’m always happy to give people the rope with which to hang me. Hang away, haters.) If they manage to pull this off, then the game really will hinge on just how much Fire ol’ Fire and Ice brings to the magic show.
The good news is I think the Packers defense can be had, particularly over the middle of the field. If Stafford can get in a groove with Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler, then the Lions have a realistic shot of pulling this fucker out. I know, I know, people are afraid of the Packers defense. That’s because they are an opportunistic, big play defense. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have weaknesses because they do and as long as Matthew Stafford doesn’t gift wrap any footballs for the holiday season as an offering to Charles Woodson and as long as Jeff Backus doesn’t poop himself, the Lions can do this, man. They can fucking do this.
Shit, look at me, talking myself into this damn thing. In doing so, I’m probably only setting myself up for disaster, but the truth is, is that I’m in a good place right now as a fan. Talking myself into this is just in my nature. I have to do it. But if it doesn’t play out the way I want it to, I’m not going to freak out or anything either. There is a weird lack of pressure heading into this game. At least from my perspective, which admittedly is utterly meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but hey, this damn blog is all about our warped and stupid perspectives and so I have to talk about it, you know? I feel good and I’ll feel good pretty much no matter what happens against the Packers. I have a weird easy, peaceful feeling which enveloped me at some point in the Panthers game. I’m not entirely sure why that is but my expectations feel like they are more closely aligned with reality than at any other point this season. Shit, I talked about a lot of this in the postgame piece following the Panthers game and so I won’t belabor the point here but I think it still bears mentioning, you know.
In fact, I’m gonna let my dude UpHere sum it up in an e-mail that he sent me the other day:
“Looking forward to game more than usual as a reasonably stress free episode. Not expecting to win, so if they play them tight, or win, I'll be ducky. Get hammered 70-13, I'll be "see, that's what a real Super Bowl team looks like, so quit patting yourselves on the back and get serious". All good either way.”
Yeah, pretty much. I mean, obviously I won’t be happy if the Lions get squashed like bugs in this one, but I think I’ve reached a place in my mind where I realize that this is not the end of the road and that there is still a ways to go on our journey towards the Promised Land. That means that there will be stumbles and ridiculous pratfalls that will leave us both weeping and laughing but I’ve also realized – and I think this is the most important thing here – that this is okay. We can stumble and it doesn’t mean the end of the world. We can fall and it doesn’t mean that we will fall forever. The Panthers game finally slammed that home to me. I’m not sure why it did, but . . . well, it did. It’s possible, of course, that I am just protecting myself from the pain of a likely defeat but I don’t think so. I am far too pathologically honest with myself to be deluded like that. At least I think so. Of course, if I was deluding myself I wouldn’t know it anyway because that is the nature of delusion thus making this whole part of the discussion worthless, but what the hell, you know how I can get.
Anyway, never mind all that dumb bullshit. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that for the first time in a long time, I am going into this Thanksgiving Day game with a smile on my face, excited about both the future and the now. I’m not fighting petty little slap-battles about the appropriateness of the Lions having this game every year. I’m just looking forward to watching my Lions take the field against the Packers and on that field, anything and everything feels possible, and that’s a good thing, I think. That’s a good thing.
Predicted Final Score: Packers 27, Lions 24 (Yeah, yeah, call me a coward and a pessimist, but you see, the thing is, if reality matched my predictions up to this point, the Lions would be 10-0 so hopefully you’ll forgive this one foray into the land of the reasonable.)
Also . . . a quick note. I just got turned onto a new Lions blog called Honolulu Bromothymol and from just perusing the site and reading a couple of posts, it’s clear to me that Payne is a dude after my own heart. He writes with the same sort of ease and freedom which I try to write with here. His perspective is unique because, well, it is uniquely his own and if you don’t mind, please check it out. I don’t do this a lot but, well, the dude sent me an e-mail, he asked me for my thoughts and for whatever help I could give him and, hey, sometimes all you’ve got to do is ask. After all, I am just a dude.