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Black and Blue all over: Optimism is relative

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
We're with you a little later than normal because we wanted to give you a chance to absorb Saturday night's posts on NFC North cutdown day. (Yeah, riiiiiiiight....)

We are heading into the most optimistic week of the NFL season. No one has lost a game and everyone is mathematically and realistically still in the playoff race. Life is good everywhere.

Which brings us to a pair of columns published Sunday morning in the Detroit Free Press, which covers a team that hasn't made a playoff appearance this decade. The Detroit Lions finished the preseason 4-0 and appear to have made some important improvements, but the locals know better than to get too excited.

  • Here's how Michael Rosenberg put it: "They have moved up in the world from hopeless to hopeful."

  • And Drew Sharp: "The odds certainly favor the Lions finally breaking that glass ceiling into mediocrity."

In relative terms, that's about as positive a review the Lions have received in a while. Yes, there is optimism even in Detroit. For this week, at least.

Elsewhere around the division:

  • Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune writes the Vikings haven't gotten their money's worth from left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who signed a seven-year contract worth $48.4 million in 2006. The NFL suspended McKinnie for the first four games of the season for violating the league's personal conduct policy, and, Zulgad writes, coach Brad Childress would be justified in feeling betrayed.

  • Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette suggests the Packers' cuts on Saturday reflect an ongoing willingness to experiment with youth rather than play it safe with veterans.

  • Rookie running back Kregg Lumpkin has a chance to be active for the Packers on Sept. 8 against Minnesota, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Packers might want Lumpkin available because starter Ryan Grant didn't have a preseason carry.

  • The Chicago Bears kept unproductive receiver Mark Bradley for another season, but this is likely Bradley's last chance with the team, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.