The surging Pats’ four-game win streak is on the line Thursday.
We should have known that the Detroit Lions would find a way to screw the pooch.
With the chance to become the first 0-17 team in NFL history, the Lions did the unthinkable. Something none of us, even in our most fevered dreams could have imagined. They found a way to avoid that fate, 17 losses in the first season with 17 games, by not winning.
Their game at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday ended in a 16-16 tie.
And my heart was legitimately broken.
I guess the silver lining for Lions fans and bettors is that they did cover the 5.5-point NFL spread at MaximBet.
I’m broken-hearted because I believed in this scrappy group of knee biters. I thought they had it in them to make etch their names in stone, to become not only the first 0-17 team, but the first NFL team to ever complete three full seasons in franchise history perfectly imperfectly.
They were already the first team to go 0-16 in an NFL season, accomplishing that feat in 2008. Before that, they went 0-11 in 1942 with a pretty solid excuse since all their players who could fight in World War II were doing that instead of playing football. God knows what this team looked like on the field or how many legs and feet each dude had.
But it still counts. It’s twice. That 1942 Lions team was the first winless team in NFL history that didn’t fold right after. The 0-8 Columbus Panhandles rebranded as the Columbus Tigers in 1923. That Tigers team went 0-9 in 1925 and shuttered the doors. The 0-8 Cincinnati Reds (football, not baseball) never even got to finish their season in 1934 before the team was disbanded.
Only the Lions toughed it out after their first winless campaign. Something we can all agree now, 79 years later, was totally worth it.
After the game, Steelers running back and former Alabama standout Najee Harris said he had no idea ties could happen in the NFL. They say that a football game ending in a tie is like “kissing your sister,” but I guess Harris didn’t spend enough time in the city of Tuscaloosa to see it in practice.
We’ve still got something to play for here; Dan Campbell’s knee-gnawing teeth and quarterback Jared Goff. Detroit can still be the first team in NFL history to go 0-16-1, but it feels hollow. That black mark, that sister-kissing tie, will just sit there for all eternity like a spinning Jared Goff fumble on a first-and-goal red zone sack.
Is it enough, 0-16-1? It’s going to have to be because a chance at perfect imperfection only comes along so often. I mean, with this Lions team it could be next year, but still, that’s a while away. I wanted this now. I wanted this for us. We’ve gone through some tough times and as a nation we deserved it.
The Detroit Lions just didn’t want it bad enough. We’ll see if they can somehow regroup as 10-point underdogs to the Cleveland Browns Sunday.
New England Patriots (-6.5) at Atlanta Falcons
Here it is, the Super Bowl LI rematch that Matt Ryan’s therapist has heard about nonstop since the 2021 NFL schedule was first released back in May.
Of course, you know the story. Atlanta took a 28-3 lead in the third quarter and ended up losing 34-28 to the Pats, because of course they did.
Seeing this Falcons team as it has existed since, losing in new and innovative ways nearly every week, that result can no longer feel like a shocker. It was the prototype to the constant catastrophic defeat masterpiece Atlanta was building over the last half decade.
Thursday night games are notoriously tough to predict, but I’ve been solid this season, riding a 7-3 record coming into this one. I don’t like the spread. New England has won four straight and against better opponents than Atlanta, but the TNF stink is on so I don’t see them covering. Take the Dirty Birds and the 6.5 points at MaximBet.
Patriots 23, Falcons 20
Adam Greene is @TheFirstMan on Twitter.
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