Sunday’s game agaist the Detroit Lions could be an earth mover in the NFC. If the 49ers win the game, they’ll vault into the same room as the Packers, Falcons, and Saints. The room at the top. The Contenders Room.
The networks have already begun drooling over a Packers vs Lions game on Thanksgiving, even daring to hope both teams will arrive at the contest with undefeated records. A relevant Green Bay – Detroit game that late in the season would harken back to the old pre-Super Bowl years of the NFL. Back to the Lombardi years. Back to apple pie and grandma’s house and fall out shelters.
It could be a mega-ratings day for the networks. In that light, the 49ers have the role of spoilers come Sunday. They could rain on this happy parade big time. A narrow loss wouldn’t derail the Lions’ train too badly, but a good butt whipping would definitely bring Motown back to earth in a hurry.
No matter how the game plays out, the Lions will be the lead story. They’re the media darlings this year. If they win, the media will continue the gushmobile, even pumping up the Niners a bit to make the win more important. If they lose, the talk will be more about failed expectations for the Lions than about what a great team those Niners have.
Out here in off broadway America, a 49er loss wouldn’t cause too much anxiety. The goal here is still modest — make the effing playoffs. A loss would not seriously affect that goal. But a win? Lordy, lordy. 49er fans would go from hoping to make the playoffs to wondering how we matched up with Green Bay. I.E., whether we were Super Bowl contenders.
This leap of aspirations would be quantum. The blogs are still trying to shake off the dreadful years, daring to believe they have ended. Going from this modest coping arena straight to the big time contender arena would cause some serious mental whip lash.
If the 49ers want to bring their fans slowly out of the dungeons into the light, a loss Sunday would probably be helpful. A lot of fans are still mired in the “we couldn’t possibly be any good look who our quarterback is” swamp. The guy who could never possibly even lead us to the playoffs suddenly being discussed as a SB worthy QB? Zounds! Get outta here!
This site chooses not to root for gentle persuasion, however. Stomp those Lions! Yeah, baby. Let’s put a scare into the Eastern Time Zone. Let’s get those boys thinking, “Oh, shit. Those tricky finessy bastards from San Francisco are back!”
As some of you old farts will recall, the reigning anxiety each season in the ’80’s and ’90’s was HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE. Making the playoffs was a given. Being the top seed was the goal. It made every game a sweaty affair because a down game full of fumbles could cost you the home field in January.
With all the new mega-corporate stadiums these days, home field advantage ain’t what it used to be. But it still helps. And local fans get to attend the games. Here’s hoping Sunday we bring that anxiety back into play in Ninerland.