Spotlight shines on Tigers, Lions in October/Paul Peterson

This time of year provides a virtual buffet for avid sports fans.

If baseball is your dish, you have the MLB playoffs starting up. If it’s football, you can select professional, college or high school from the menu.

And there’s a nice side order for hockey fans, too. The National Hockey League kicks off another season this week, and Michigan Tech hockey gets rolling as well.

But the local spotlight will be focused squarely on the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions.

The Tigers will be going into the postseason on a very flat note. The Motowners, without a healthy Miguel Cabrera, have had trouble scoring runs against the lowly Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins over the past two weeks.

That’s not a good sign against an Oakland A’s team that plays aggressive baseball.

Of course, the Tigers do have the pitching to shut down the A’s. The question will be whether Detroit can score enough runs to win low-scoring games.

The Tigers management has been blasted – and rightfully so – for not placing Cabrera on the disabled list back in August.

A couple weeks of rest might have put him in some kind of shape for the postseason. Right now, he’s almost a liability.

If the Tigers advance past Oakland, they’ll likely face a Boston team that can hit, and also led the league in stolen bases. That’s not a good matchup for Detroit.

On Sunday, all the attention will be focused on the Lions-Packers meeting in Green Bay – a place that has not been kind to Detroit in 20-plus years.

This appears to be a different Lions team than the one last year that self-destructed in a flurry of penalties and just plain boneheaded mistakes.

Free agent acquisition Reggie Bush gives the team a real threat in the backfield, possessing the kind of speed that can turn short gains into long ones.

That opens the door for quarterback Matthew Stafford, who although high and wild on some occasions, can hurt opponents through the air.

While the Packers secondary appears vulnerable this season, they’re otherwise solid on defense.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers gives Green Bay a chance to win on any Sunday. If the vaunted pass rush of the Lions doesn’t put pressure on him, he’ll pick apart a crippled secondary.

It all adds up to the kind of matchup older followers of both teams will recall. By older, I’m talking about anyone over the age of 50.

Those fans can remember when the Lions of Alex Karras, Joe Schmidt, Gail Cogdill and others battled the Packers of Bart Starr, Herb Adderly, Max McGee, etc. on even terms. Only the coaching genius of Vince Lombardi kept the Pack slightly ahead in those long ago days.

The rivalry has lost some of its glamour in recent years because of the Green Bay dominance, but it just might be returning to form.

At any rate, get set for a wild couple of weeks.