Found December 21, 2012 on Fox Sports Detroit:
The Detroit Lions, 4-10 and on a six-game losing streak, are left with only the role of spoiler to play Saturday night when they take on the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field. Here are five storylines to follow: 1. This type of spotlight -- a nationally televised game on ESPN -- hasn't been good to the Lions. They wanted so badly to be considered relevant again and coveted these TV appearances, but theyve failed miserably in them. Since beating Chicago on Monday night last year, the Lions have lost seven straight appearances on national television by a combined score of 204-137. The first three were last season; the last four this year: Thanksgiving vs. Green Bay, 27-15. Sunday night at New Orleans, 31-17. NFC playoffs at New Orleans, 45-28. Sunday night at San Francisco, 27-19. Monday night at Chicago, 13-7. Thanksgiving vs. Houston, 34-31 in overtime. Sunday night at Green Bay, 27-20. The perception is, the Lions are an undisciplined group of underachievers. This is a chance to present a different view of themselves to the nation. "To do it on national television against an Atlanta football team would be good for us, good for the fans, good for the country to see what this team is all about, how we bounce back from adversity and how we handle things, linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. 2. Theres just something about athletes and how they perform after theyve just been badly embarrassed. They hear about how lousy they are all week and it becomes quite motivating. Take the Arizona Cardinals, who played an inspired game defensively to shut down the Lions just a week after being humiliated, 58-0, by Seattle. Thats something I had a bad feeling about, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said of Arizonas bounce-back effort. Any professional, especially being embarrassed 58-0, is going to come out with some fight. You understand that no matter what may happen to you -- good, bad, indifferent -- youve got to continue to fight, especially when youre down. Youve got to be able to fight yourself out of that hole. OK, so now its the Lions turn to show whether they have some of that fight left after hearing for days about how pathetic they are following a 38-10 loss to Arizona. Do they have what it takes to respond against a team thats tied for the best record in the league? I dont see why we dont, Suh said. Quarterback Matthew Stafford will be an interesting one to watch. He took the blame for what happened in Arizona, where he threw three interceptions -- two of which were returned for touchdowns. People are competitive, Stafford said. People have pride. People have confidence in themselves. I think that helps bounce back from stuff like this. Heres his chance. 3. The Lions are running on fumes at three positions. They've lost eight players for the season -- three receivers, three defensive backs and two defensive linemen -- after they were placed on the injured-reserve list. The receivers -- Nate Burleson (six), Titus Young (eight) and Ryan Broyles (three) -- combined for 17 starts before going down. The defensive backs -- cornerback Bill Bentley (three), safety Amari Spievey (two) and cornerback Jacob Lacey (nine) -- accounted for 14 starts. The defensive linemen -- tackles Corey Williams (five) and Nick Fairley (seven) -- started a total of 12 games. Thats the NFL, as they say, but it doesnt help when the injuries all come at the same positions. One source of inspiration through it all has been safety Louis Delmas, who's valiantly trying to get on the field each week despite battling a season-long knee injury. He underwent surgery during training camp. In reality, he's never been healthy. Delmas has missed eight games and rarely practices. Nobody would have blinked if he shut it down for the last few weeks, particularly since the Lions are eliminated from the playoffs and hes a pending free agent. But Delmas has vowed to be out there Saturday -- for better or worse. Hes a professional football player with a passion about the game he loves to play, coach Jim Schwartz said. Somebody asked earlier this week what football character is, and you could probably say Lou Delmas. "It really has nothing to do with what his contract is or anything else. Its the fact that theres a football game Saturday night and hes going to do everything he can to play. 4. The Falcons can clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a victory and could tie a franchise record with 14 victories if they win their final two. Nevertheless, the skeptics continue to circle this team like sharks. Most think it could all be just another tease. Atlanta has made the playoffs three times in the last four years and each time got eliminated in its first game. The worst came two years ago, when the 13-3 Falcons lost at home to eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay, 48-21. Although so many are questioning them, the Falcons just keep on rolling, seemingly motivated each week by their naysayers. If nothing else, it has to help keep them grounded and avoid a letdown. Weve got a very strong locker room, coach Mike Smith said. I believe that you win in the locker room first. "Its about those men sometimes more than scheme. Theyve got to enjoy being around each other and enjoy playing the game. Weve got a really good group. Until they prove it in the playoffs, most people are going to question their character and not give them enough credit. 5. Tight end Tony Gonzalez needs 120 yards in the final two games to make the Falcons the sixth team in NFL history to have three players with at least 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. Receivers Roddy White (1,156) and Julio Jones (1,071) have already reached the milestone mark. Gonzalez, 36, is in his 16th NFL season. He has been selected for 12 Pro Bowls. Hes going to be a problem, said Tulloch, 27 and in his seventh NFL season. Gonzalez is playing like hes in year five. Hes real fresh, explosive out of his routes. He catches everything thrown to him. Hes a magnificent player, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Im going to ask him before the game, Tony, what do you do to take care of your body the way you do? Ive had respect for him since I was a kid watching him.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES
THESE ARE MY CONFESSIONS

Former Lion: I sabotaged my QB

Former Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown admitted he once missed a block so that his quarterback, Scott Mitchell, would get injured.

GET IT DONE

Megatron: Lions' playmakers need to step up

Calvin Johnson wants to see better play out of his teammates in their remaining two games after a six-game losing streak.

Lions Injury Report: Nick Fairley Placed on IR

The Detroit Lions have placed defensive lineman Nick Fairley on season-ending injured reserve due to a shoulder injury, the Associated Press reports. The Detroit Lion have put defensive tackle Nick Fairley on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Fairley, a first-round pick by the Lions in 2011, was in the midst of a breakout campaign prior to sustaining his shoulder injury...

Mady: Lions Haven't Quit on Schwartz

There’s a notion floating around right now that Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has lost his team. These assumptions come with no merit, are not based on any tangible evidence and are an inaccurate assessment of the Lions current situation.

'Megatron' breaks Rice's record

DETROIT Sorry, Jerry Rice, you have one fewer NFL record. Detroit Lions receiver Calvin "Megatron" Johnson surpassed Rice for the most receiving yards in a season with a brilliant performance Saturday night in a 31-18 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field. Johnson broke the record on a 26-yard reception with 2:57 remaining in the game to give him 1,871 yards on the...

Rice's record within reach for Megatron

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Calvin Johnson was 10 years old when Jerry Rice set the NFL record in 1995 for receiving yards in a season. Johnson says he's never met Rice, never talked to him and really hasn't gone back to study tape of the indisputable greatest receiver in football history. But with 182 yards in the Detroit Lions' final two games, Johnson will surpass Rice...

Former NFL lineman Lomas Brown admits missing block so Scott Mitchell would get injured

Former NFL offensive lineman Lomas Brown was a guest on ESPN Radio and admitted that when he was with the Detroit Lions, he missed a block on purpose so Scott Mitchell would get injured and be knocked out of the game. “We were playing Green Bay in Milwaukee,” Brown said, via ProFootballTalk.com. “We were getting beat, 24-3, at that time and he just stunk up the place. He...

Detroit Lions: Week 16 NFL Power Rankings (#28)

Last week: 27 (-1) Record: 4-10 Net points per drive: -0.02 (15th) DVOA: -0.5% (14th) Weighted DVOA: -1.0% (16th) The Lions have had some bad luck with losing close, winnable games and having turnovers returned for touchdowns (they’ve had a ridiculous 10 turnovers/punts/kickoffs returned for touchdown this year), but they are the league’s most underachieving team this year and...

Steve Young dressed in the Christmas spirit (Picture)

Steve Young dressed in the Christmas spirit for Saturday’s Atlanta Falcons-Detroit Lions game. The Pro Football Hall of Famer and current ESPN NFL analyst was wearing a red plaid jacket and red tie to get with the holiday mood. ESPN showed a full-length view of him to reveal he was also wearing blue jeans and athletic sneakers. “All I could afford was the jacket,” Young joked...

Falcons-Lions Open Thread

After getting a decisive statement victory over the Giants last Sunday, a very Atlanta response would be dropping the follow-up against the Lions, if for no other reason than to give all the pundits. who just started to grudgingly give the Falcons credit, a reason to doubt them anew. The Falcons clinch home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs with a win tonight. Knowing how the media...

Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions: Five Things to Watch Two Nights Before Christmas

This piece is also featured on Lions 101 It’s time for some Monday Night Football on Saturday night, as the Atlanta Falcons, the top birds in the NFC, cruise into town to take on the Detroit Lions. It’s time to officially put this particular match up in the category of games that looked better when the schedule came out last spring. The 12-2 Falcons have held up their end of...

Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions: Week 16 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (12-2) Detroit Lions (4-10) Normally I like going against huge line movements because I hate week to week overreactions. This line was Atlanta -1 last week and now it’s at -4.5, skipping over two key numbers of 3 and 4. At first glance, this appears warranted. The Lions got blown out by the crappy Cardinals in Arizona, losing 38-10, while the Falcons got a huge...

Atlanta Falcons-Detroit Lions Week 16 injury report

Here is the latest injury report for tonight's Week 16 clash between the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions:  ATLANTA FALCONS Status Report   QUESTIONABLE DT Jonathan Babineaux (ribs), T Tyson Clabo (thigh), DE Cliff Matthews (hamstring), S William Moore (hamstring), CB Christopher Owens (hamstring), WR Roddy White (knee) PROBABLE WR Harry Douglas (ribs)...

Falcons/Lions Predictions

The Detroit Lions come into this game as losers of their last seven games. The first five of those losses came by ten points or less, including three games by four points or less, but last week the Lions got blown out by Arizona. Now the Lions sit at just 4-10 and host the 12-2 Atlanta Falcons. So far this year the Lions are 2-4 at home and the Falcons are 5-2 on the road but have...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.