It’s been 7 games, but with the bye just a game away, for me the Lions have erased the stench of last year’s season that burned down the farm full of animals.

The Lions aren’t going to win the Super Bowl this year. Sorry.

If they make the playoffs, I don’t think it’s going to be a cinch to clinch with multiple weeks remaining in the season.

Outside of Denver, Seattle, New Orleans and San Francisco I think the Lions can play with any team in the NFL. Given that they play as the did against the Bengals and no worse.

It’s a good thing Calvin Johnson was as healthy as he’s been since the beginning of the season against Cincinnati or else there’s a good chance the Lions would’ve been totally outclassed and embarassed by the Bengals.

Photo: Getty Images

The quarterback, Matthew Stafford, continues his swervy up and down, left and right year. Twenty three misfires, and really had only two passes worth highlighting: A 43 yard pass to Kevin Ogletree to get the Lions out of their own end on the first drive of the second half, which culminated in Stafford’s other throw of note, a finely threaded laser to Calvin for his first of two scores. Had Stafford not missed fingertips on the occasions he did, the Lions could have made it a much more challenging afternoon for the Bengals.

Chris Houston had a day to forget. A good brain washing or a Vulcan mind meld will do the trick. Last Sunday it was Josh Gordon who racked up 126 yards on the Lions. This week, one of the NFL’s finest receivers, AJ Green, easily and repeatedly outmaneuvered Houston on his way to a score and a 155 yards. Houston was benched to begin the second half of the game.

According to the Lions had just three hits and a lone sack on the just-adequate-enough Andy Dalton on his 34 pass attempts. In neat fashion, Dalton rang up a 135 passer rating. The third time this year he’s gone over 100, but he topped the previous two by more than 30 points against the Lions. It was an undemanding day for the player who I said in the preseason could elevate his game and get this Bengals team to the Super Bowl.

Do you recall any runs that loosened up the Cincinnati defense? You shouldn’t, because the Lions really just nibbled away at yards all afternoon. 77 of them on 25 carries for about a 3 yard average. That’s not totally unexpected as the Bengals front four is exceptional, and if you include the front seven, still falls in the ‘very good’ classication.

It was a completely turnover free game, but the Lions did get a FG blocked. Their eye opening rookie tight end, playing a much larger role this week, Joseph Fauria made no impact, nor did the possessed DeAndre Levy. Who, for the first time in weeks didn’t look like he deserved a goofy looking jersey to play in Hawaii in January. After the Chicago game last month where Louis Delmas did either his old, healthy Delmas impression, or one of Ed Reed, he’s vanished from creating plays in Detroit’s secondary.

Finally, with under a minute to go, rookie Sam Martin’s lofted up a futile attempt to force the Bengals to begin a last minute drive deep in their territory. Instead, they started at their own 49. Even after probably mismanaging their final timeout, and two passes, the Bengals placed Mike Nugent in line for a comfortable straight-on 54 yard field goal attempt, which he hit to win the game.

Let’s run through that once more OK?

Your QB was maddening and mostly lousy.

Theirs could’ve played with a helmet.

Your #1 corner should have butter in one hand and jelly in the other to offer to receivers to place on the toast they’re making out of him.

Bush and Bell had no room to create anything.

You got a field goal run back in your face.

Your punter’s poorest effort of the year, came at the most ill of times.

Oh, oh, oh! The Lions also couldn’t take much advantage of the Bengals having lost their Calvin coverer Leon Hall AND they didn’t have much of Riley Reiff who found himself banged up.

Yet, because a revived Calvin Johnson was able to reassume the role of capeless superhero, the Lions didn’t get routed out of their own building by a team that in all reality, is quite their mirror image of themselves (right down to the bumbling, penalty prone tight end, as well a shining rookie one to partner with!).

I don’t know what you saw, but I watched two football teams that should be able to take with field with upwards of 25 other NFL teams and competently and competitively stand toe to toe with those opponents for a 60 minute football game.

That to me, bodes well for the Lions moving forward awaiting Dallas, their bye, the return of their needed #2 receiver, and the second half of what hopes to be a playoff bound season.

###Hashing Out The Tweets…

- Let me get this straight. When the Lions got the ball back with 41 seconds left in the half, two timeouts, starting at their 20…you wanted them to go 80 yards, when their QB had been missing high and wide most of the first half AND while their previous drives had been reasonably successful, they were averaging just under 4 yards per play. 80 yards was a tall task, and with Stafford sailing balls, one pick 6 could have been devastating going into the half.

- Though I’ll ask this about that final ‘drive.’ Why not see if Calvin can zoom past a secondary lacking Leon Hall (uhhhhh kinda like how he hauled in that 50 yard TD later on) to put you in position to give Akers a shot at 3? I don’t care about 41 seconds or two timeouts, the Bengals top corner was absent, and while a 155 yard day is refreshing from Calvin, I think he could have gone over 200 if the Lions had stopped uselessly running and just kept aiming for an unguardable receiver.

- I never expected Revis Island out of Chris Houston, but at this point, I’d like to leave him on a island somewhere far, far away from any competent receiver. Speed and athleticism can escape you in the middle of the night, but to see a starting corner of 7 years NFL experience look so lost, and seemingly always expecting help and not getting it (miscommunication he’s a part of), even against the exceptional AJ Green is disheartening. Don’t think other teams aren’t going to begin to an aerial assault on the Lions secondary, especially if their front four is as muted as they were today.

- The Bengals should let Nike do something fun with their helmets. Like make each set of bengal stripes from player to player be completely unique.

- There was only one replay, but I’m real sure that wasn’t OPI on AJ Green. I think Chris Houston, luckily, got bailed out by officials who were OPI happy (6!) on Sunday.

- Unless Suh gets fined for ‘scoring’ on a play the Lions were penalized for jumping offsides, looks like he’ll keep all his gamecheck this week.

- Rashean Mathis has himself quite an impressive streak of not being able to complete games. This time a groin knocked him out. Mathis is the Lions Rick Porcello. 2/3s of the game and I’m out bro!