Found November 30, 2012 on Fox Sports Detroit:
The Detroit Lions will try to end their second three-game losing streak of the season when they play the surprising Indianapolis Colts Sunday afternoon at Ford Field. Here are five storylines to follow: The Lions have reached a potential break point. Its been a disappointing season. Theyre 4-7 and out of the playoff picture barring a miracle. Theyre coming off back-to-back heartbreaking home losses. In the last one, coach Jim Schwartz made a mental blunder to give the Houston Texans a game-turning touchdown. That loss kept the Lions from climbing back into the playoff race with five games to play. So which way will the Lions go now? Will they quit on their coach? These last five games could be an indication of this teams future under Schwartz. How they react will be revealing. You want to play for your teammates, play for your coaches, play for the city, cornerback Chris Houston said. People who are under contract (for next year), people who are not under contract, theres a lot at stake for everybody in this locker room. Defensive end Cliff Avril added: Were all pros. Every time you go out there, you put your resume out there. Maybe turning the calendar will help. The Lions are 3-1 each of the last two years in December. Since the start of last season, Detroit is merely 7-6 at Ford Field, including 2-3 this year with losses to Minnesota, Green Bay and Houston. Its certainly not the fans fault. Theyve filled the stadium game after game, creating what should be a significant home-field advantage. Weve got to start taking advantage of that, center Dominic Raiola said. Asked about the atmosphere at Ford Field, Raiola said, Its awesome. They did a great job, coming out and supporting every week. We dont reciprocate. Weve got to start reciprocating that back to them. The Lions have three more chances. The other two home games are against Atlanta (Dec. 22) and Chicago (Dec. 30). In Detroit, fans have been upset that defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who has 19 tackles and 4 sacks in 11 games, doesnt dominate more. In Indianapolis, the fans are just as disappointed that rush linebacker Dwight Freeney (10 tackles, two sacks in nine games) hasnt produced statistically like he did in the past. The coaches of those players, however, see it much differently. Theres no doubt, hes disruptive, Bruce Arians, the Colts interim coach, said of Suh. I mean, statisticians dont play football. Dwight Freeney, his numbers are down. Everybody says, Time to get rid of him. Crap, hes all over the place, disruptive, getting sacks for other guys. Suhs the same way. Hes tearing up the middle of the pocket. I love the way the guy plays football. Schwartz added: Were watching Dwight Freeney (on tape) affect the game on just about every play, really raising hell as a pass rusher. Based on tape, we are going to have our hands full. Based on the stat sheet, you wouldnt even pay a second thought to 93 (Freeney's number). According to the two coaches, it's the same with 90 for Detroit. Even if Titus Young, who missed the last game for disciplinary reasons, is activated for Sunday, theres not much doubt that rookie Ryan Broyles has earned a larger role. Broyles made six catches for 126 yards against Houston. It was just over a year ago -- Nov. 21, 2011 -- that he underwent surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. A lot of work, man, Broyles said of the comeback. From the day I was walking out of the hospital on crutches, moaning in the bed, to now being on the NFL football field. It feels great. A lot of people have believed in me to help me get through this situation. I feel good where I am right now. You can still argue that the Lions had much bigger needs than receiver when they selected Broyles in the second round of the NFL Draft last spring. It remains a controversial decision by general manager Martin Mayhew and company, but that has nothing to do with Broyles. He is proving he can produce at this level. The Colts, who were 2-14 last season, are making the best of an unfortunate situation. They are 6-2 and riding a wave of emotion since Arians, the teams offensive coordinator, took over for coach Chuck Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia in late September. Pagano has taken an indefinite leave while undergoing chemotherapy treatments, but his prognosis has been improving, to the point there is hope he could be back coaching by the final regular-season game or for the playoffs. We play for him every game, rookie quarterback Andrew Luck said of Pagano. His presence is always felt. Arians said: Chucks illness gave us an extra reason to fight. We want to extend the season until he can come back on the sideline. Despite currently holding the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoff race, the Colts have a point differential of minus-43, which is 11th-worst in the league. The Lions, who have won three fewer games, have a minus-13 point differential. The reason for the oddity is that the young, rebuilding Colts have won five games by six points or fewer, including three by three points, while getting blown out by a combined total of 81 points in three road games against Chicago, the New York Jets and New England.
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