We were so enthralled with slamming Jim Schwartz's hideous decision to call for a fake field goal, we completely forgot to acknowledge that the difficulty of some games on the Lions remaining schedule went from Rookie to at least Normal, if we're grading on the Madden scale.
The skill level wasn't actually increased in one single day of games and performances, but over the course of the last few weeks. Things do suddenly change directions in the NFL quite often. And they could change again before the Lions encounter these impending challenges.
The good news is still that they've got any tiebreaker over Chicago with their two wins against the Bears. If the Lions beat Green Bay on Thanksgiving that'll be 1-1, but the Lions will move to 4-1 in the North, with only a game at Minnesota remaining in Week 17 that would prevent them from 5-1 in the North.
Now the bad news.
The Buccaneers, who visit as 9 point underdogs this Sunday, have won two and a half of their last three games. They took Seattle to OT 3 weeks ago on the road, they won the Distraction Bowl against Miami and they just hammered Atlanta. Tampa's backs keep dropping and no name heroes keep popping up to save the day for their run game, and rookie Mike Glennon has a 109 passer rating over the last year. Sunday won't be the walkover we expected several weeks ago.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
Almost from Week 1, I expected the trip to the Linc in Philly to be a loss, but the way the Nick Foles has played for Chip Kelly lately, the Lions defense - particularly the secondary - could be in for a humiliating afternoon. If they couldn't tackle Antonio Brown, good luck catching Desean Jackson and Lesean McCoy.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
And here come the Giants on their almost annual spurt through November + December, which almost always lands them winning their only game in February, and oh yeah, if they needed extra motivation that game will be played in their stadium. If the Giants handle their remaining schedule of Dal, @Wash, @SD, Sea, @Det, Wash and make the playoffs, then stay out of their way, and start thinking about Eli being up TWO Super Bowls on his brother. Could you imagine Eli vs. Peyton in the NY area Super Bowl. It would be like an entire entourage of Jerome Bettis's on one team being from Detroit. Prepare for incessant.
The Lions remaining schedule isn't unmanageable, and 12-4 wasn't going to happen anyway. Three of the final 6 games just became a bit more grueling, which isn't a bad thing if you're trying to define a winning identity that can help you advance through January.
And by the way, I'm not backtracking on my Ws and Ls.
Green Bay Win
@New York I'll flip here. Loss. EDIT - This is in Detroit. But the point remains, often the Giants are not to be toiled with in December.
10-6. 2-0 over the Bears, 1-1 vs. GB and 5-1 in the North. That SHOULD claim the 3rd seed in the NFC, and possibly create The Handshake Bowl at Ford Field during Wild Card weekend.