Poor Matt Millen. Who would have thought this would happen?

Say what you will about the player-turned-broadcaster-turned-front office executive, but no one should have to suffer through this. In losing to the 49ers Sunday 21-13, the Detroit Lions fell to 0-7 on the season, and President Millen has to wonder what he’s doing wrong. After being hired by William Clay Ford to run the franchise, Matt Millen filled the sails of Lions fans with optimism. Forget that he had no prior front office experience, Millen inspired confidence. He had a winning attitude and fire in his belly; he promised to return the long-tortured Lions to glory. And now this.

The Lions have outgained teams, and lost. Outplayed teams, and lost. Done everything they can to win, yet lost every game. It’s not as if the decline were evident, either. The Lions finished 8-8 in 2000 and should have made the playoffs. If not for a last second field goal by the Bears in week 17, they would have. Why the sudden decline?

There are a number of reasons, but the most obvious has to be the quarterback position. Incumbent Charlie Batch has been steadily getting worse since his rookie year, and replacement Ty Detmer has been just plain awful.

Fortunately for the Lions, they should have the number one pick, and thus their pick of collegiate signal-callers. Let’s not forget that the San Diego went 11 games before winning their first game in 2000, but have turned things around this season. Despite falling to Kansas City on Sunday, 25-20, the Chargers stand at 5-3 and have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

So take heart Lions fans, help is on the way. As long as you don’t draft Ryan Leaf.

Week 8 Highlights

Cleveland at Chicago: It happened again? What is it with history repeating itself these days? First Byung-Hyun Kim yields game tying two-run homers in consecutive games, and now this. For the second week in a row, the Bears battled to force overtime. For the second week in a row, Mike Brown intercepted a tipped pass and returned it for the score and the Bears’ victory. For the second week in a row, Chicago went crazy for the division-leading Bears. Even the score was similar: Bears 27, Cleveland 21.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh: The race in the AFC Central just got interesting again. Thanks to four misses by the usually dependable Kris Brown and the Pittsburgh kicking game, the Ravens moved to just a half game back of the Steelers. Though they were outplayed, Randall Cunningham and the Raven offense gave their defense just enough to earn the victory for the second week in a row. Elvis Grbac may be injured, but Cunningham is earning victories in a Dilfer-esque manner. The Steelers’ kicking game costs them their first loss at Heinz Stadium, 13-10.

Dallas at N.Y. Giants: This game was a story of two halves. Dallas looked like the Cowboys of old in the first half, intercepting Kerry Collins twice and returning both for touchdowns en route to a 17 point halftime lead. In the second half, however, the Giants finally broke out of their slump. Collins and the offense got going, forcing the game into overtime. In the extra period Morten “Methuselah” Andersen used the power of his ancient leg to kick the Giants to the 27-24 victory.

Random Thoughts

New England 24, Atlanta 10: Reeves should bag the season and let Vick put on a show.

Indianapolis 30, Buffalo 14: Good Indy D? Or dreadful Buffalo O?

Green Bay 21, Tampa Bay 20: Curse of Lambeau ends, courtesy of realignment, in 2002.

Tennessee 28, Jacksonville 24: Remember when Jacksonville went 14-2?

Miami 23, Carolina 6: Weinke hoping to get another year of eligibility at FSU.

Philadelphia 21, Arizona 7: This time the birds of prey do the hunting.

Kansas City 25, San Diego 20: No Flutie? No fourth quarter comeback.

Washington 27, Seattle 14: Redskins win three straight. Finally some non-anthrax news out of Washington.

Monday Night Preview: Denver at Oakland

Now this is a matchup for Monday Night Football. Gannon vs. Griese. Garner and Wheatley vs. Anderson, Gary and Davis. Brown and Rice vs. Smith. Both of these teams feature big names on offense, but this game will be won with good defense. Oakland’s D is better, and they’re playing at home. Just win baby, especially on Monday night. The Verdict: Oakland 28, Denver 17.