Wednesday, June 27, 2007

He Knows Pre-Season Doesn't Count, Right?

We have now entered a vast sports wasteland as far as I'm concerned. The NBA playoffs and Stanley Cup are done and there are no Olympics this summer. Yes, Wimbledon is upon us but the dominance of Roger Federer makes this feel like another two-week march towards the history books for one of the most dominant players we'll ever see in any sport.

Hell, when I'm actually planning to watch the NBA Draft you know things are slow. (And yes, for the record, I know there's a baseball season in full swing but I can't get really excited about it until the Phillies have created an insurmountable deficit for themselves in August.)

So it was with great delight that I found myself actually reading a story about Jon Kitna and the Detroit Lions yesterday. Seems that Kitna, the God-loving, buzz-cutted QB who lost his starting job to Carson Palmer when he was with the Bengals, looks at the Detroit Lions – who went 3-13 last year – and sees good things. Very good things.

During a recent radio interview, Kitna said that though he remarked in March that he thought the Lions would win 10 games, he's now adjusting that prediction. Not down, like any right-thinking human being, but up.

"I'll keep to myself what I think we actually will win. But it's more than 10 games," Kitna was quoted as saying.

By all accounts Kitna seems like a nice, fairly humble, God-fearing individual. Sorta like Kurt Warner without the breakout season and annoying, spotlight-hogging wife. But I never realized that he was clearly insane.

Yes, the Lions drafted the incredibly gifted Calvin Johnson and Mike Martz's offense could be fun to watch. But 10+ wins? The team's schedule for the upcoming season features the usual divisional matchups with Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota. Even at my most generous I'm not seeing them go better than 4-2 in the division but I think 2-4 or 3-3 is a more likely scenario.

Even if they match my best case scenario and win 4 games in their division, that means Kitna sees them winning 7 or more games against the following teams: Oakland, Philly, Washington, Tampa (H), Denver, Arizona, Giants (H), Dallas (H), San Diego, Kansas City (H).

In all likelihood you're looking at a sweep at the hands of the NFC East as well as losses to Denver and San Diego (both on the road). Maybe you win at Oakland in Week One (and that's really a toss-up game in my mind at this point), beat Tampa at home, and possibly beat Arizona (though I think the Cardinals will be a playoff contender this year) and the Chiefs (who will be well in to their "late season, just missed the playoffs due to Herm Edwards' cement-headed coaching" funk).

In other words, my best case scenario... one that would land Rod Marinelli a Coach of the Year trophy... has them finishing 8-8 in a highly-competitive division where the Bears are the best team and everybody else is floundering at the same level of mediocrity. But hell, that'd be more than double the number of wins they had last season!

Yes, I know. It's not even July and I'm debating the Detroit Lions season schedule. Great ain't it?

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