Originally written November 17, 2012 on isportsweb.com:
Detroit_lions_v_b352
Even at 4-5, with the odds against them, the Detroit Lions won’t quit. I’m sure the attitude of their head coach plays a big part of it, and the tenacity of one veteran is a factor as well. Lions center Dominic Raiola said yesterday that counting the Lions out was “disrespectful” and compared his team to the also-4-and-5 Saints. “But the Saints are 4-5 and they’re right in the hunt. How the (bleep) does that work out? We’re 4-5, too. So they’re basically writing us off.” While the Lions are not the Saints, Raiola makes a somewhat valid point.  The Lions still have a chance in the NFC playoff hunt, and although I have already written them off, they seem to keep fighting. I can’t hate on Raiola.  The man has lost so many football games in his career that once he finally has some talent around him, he’s bound to show a little fire. I think that Dom was trying to say this: his team is very talented, albeit underperforming.  Should the Lions start playing to their potential, a playoff run isn’t out of reach. In reality, the playoffs are all but out of reach for Detroit.  They have shown me very little outside of the fourth quarter that makes me believe they can run the table in their remaining games. This week’s game against the Green Bay Packers begins a stretch of games for Detroit that is nothing short of brutal. The game kicks off at 1:05p.m. and airs on Fox. Not only do the Lions have to face Green Bay twice, but also face the 8-1 Texans, the division-leading Bears, and the 6-3 Colts.  And did I mention the Falcons?  They just lost their bid for a perfect season last week, when New Orleans edged them 31-27. Combined, the Lions’ remaining opponents are 39-15. My concern is that the Lions will look at this game against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers as just one of many ruthless matchups they face from now until the end of the season. The numbers don’t add up that poorly for Detroit: the Lions boast the league’s 7th best pass defense against a team that ranks 12th in passing offense.  Offensively, Detroit’s top-rated passing attack goes up against a defense that ranks 21st against the pass. Playoffs aside, record aside, schedule aside, the Lions have to show up and play on Sunday.  If they can’t wake up for a divisional game against a Packers team that has absolutely owned them recently, I’ll begin to question their character. The coaching staff, led by Jim Schwartz, has to get this team ready to play regardless of injuries.  The Lions are beat up, no doubt, but it is Schwartz’s job to put his team in a position to win each and every week, no matter what the roster. Louis Delmas, Corey Williams, and Amari Spievey will miss yet another game, putting more pressure on a defense that ranks 23rd in scoring. I’m not sure the Lions can win this game without the three injured players I just listed, but I like the idea that guys like Raiola are still fighting. I’m not sure that Matthew Stafford can outduel opposing quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but I like to think that it still motivates Stafford to go out and try. The matchup is a tough one, the injury report is depressing, but Detroit won’t go down without a fight, and I respect that.   Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny  
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