Will The NFL's Detroit Lions Make It 0-16?
LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
We take a moment this morning to mark a first in the NFL, a most inglorious first, however. As if things couldn't get any worse in Detroit, the Detroit Lions are oh-and-15 this season, that is, 0 wins, 15 losses. The Lions face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, the last game in their regular season. A loss against the Packers would make the Detroit Lions the first NFL team to finish a season oh-and-16. Here to discuss this and other NFL matters is NPR's Mike Pesca. Good morning, Mike.
MIKE PESCA: Hi.
WERTHEIMER: Do the Lions have any kind of chance against the Packers?
PESCA: Well, I think at this point, I'd probably rather own GM stock than bet on the Lions.
(Soundbite of laughter)
PESCA: But yes, the Lions have a small chance, because they will be playing. But not a good chance; they are terrible on offense and much, much worse on defense.
WERTHEIMER: So, what got them to this point, luck or skill?
PESCA: Yeah, lack thereof. We should point out that Tamper Bay went oh-and14; they only played 14 games back then. But the Lions have been around for 75 years. They don't have the excuse of being an expansion team. And if you look back to what is the cause, the general manager, named Matt Millen, who's widely regarded as the architect of the failure; Matt Millen would draft players, they would not pan out, and next year he would draft some more players. So, if the blame has to be laid, it's on Matt Millen's head, and he's actually already been fired.
WERTHEIMER: Let's turn to teams with a chance. What are the big games this week?
PESCA: Let's take San Diego versus Denver; whoever wins this game is in the playoffs. And it's a rematch of a week number-two game where an interesting thing happened. The Denver Broncos were driving the field, down by seven, and with about a minute left, their quarterback fumbled; the Charges recovered the ball; right then and there it looked like the game was over. But the referee had inadvertently blown his whistle, thus negating the fumble, and Denver went on to win, and many angry Charger fans emailed the referee, Ed Hochuli...
WERTHEIMER: Wait a minute. How can you email a referee?
PESCA: Yeah. Referee is only a part-time job in the NFL, which is kind of odd for the most important guy on the field in a billion-dollar industry. But Ed Hochuli's a trial lawyer; he has to have his Web site and his email out there. Hochuli responded to a lot of the emails. He says, I feel terrible. I blew the call. If Ed Hochuli had not made that mistake, the Chargers would already be in the playoffs. Now they get a rematch with the Broncos, and as they say, if they win, they're in.
WERTHEIMER: The big game for Washington fans, of course, would be the Cowboys versus the Eagles, two teams we hate.
(Soundbite of laughter)
PESCA: Yeah. The Cowboys, they have the opportunity to go into Philadelphia to win that game and to make the playoffs. Philadelphia could also make the playoffs, but there's an interesting thing going on in Philadelphia; a lot of the Eagles fans would rather just have their team lose, and this way, they get to fire the coach and fire the quarterback. Sort of like in medieval times of bloodletting was said to be good for what ails you.
WERTHEIMER: So, what are you going to watch?
PESCA: Well, I live in New York, and I think the most interesting storyline here is the New York Jets versus the Miami Dolphins. The Jets, before the season started, signed Brett Favre. That got so much attention. Lost in the shuffle was the fact that the Jets quarterback at the time, Chad Pennington, was dismissed from the team. The Miami Dolphins picked him up, and the Dolphins were a team - they were only one-and-15 last year. But Chad Pennington has led the Dolphins to 10 wins so far this season. Chad Pennington goes into the meadowlands to face the Jets with the playoffs on the line. That'll be a great game.
WERTHEIMER: OK, Mike. Sounds like happy football.
PESCA: (Laughing) Yes. Thank you very much.
WERTHEIMER: NPR's Mike Pesca. He writes a weekly column on the NFL at npr.org.
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WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.