Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/16/11
It's been a wild ride this season for both the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions. Detroit started off 5-0 and has since lost five of their last eight. Oakland has been anything but consistent. Getting hot and cold and is currently on a two game losing streak. But this match up is a big one for both teams. The Lions are in the thick of an NFC Wildcard playoff race and the Raiders are trying to win the AFC West division. The playoffs are on the line and this one could be a must win. There are three things to watch during this match up that may determine the outcome of whose season continues into the postseason.


Calvin Johnson vs. the Oakland secondary

Johnson has been slowed as of late. In the last five games he hasn’t eclipsed the 100 yard mark and only has one touchdown. Teams have been double and even triple covering him and his production has slowed but that does not mean he isn’t making an impact. Receivers Titus Young and Nate Burleson have been more productive since the attention has been on Johnson and that should stay consistent this week. Johnson or Megatron as some people call him may just break out of his shell this week. He is due for a big game and look for the Lions to go his way a lot.

Carson Palmer

Carson Palmer hasn’t had the best start as an Oakland Raider. Since he took over the Raiders are 3-3 and are now on a two game losing streak. In the last two games he has thrown five interceptions and only three touchdowns. With Palmers turning the ball over it is hard for Oakland to stay in games. If the Raiders want to win, Palmer needs to take care of the ball and keep a high completion percentage. He has a quarterback rating of over 100 in 2 of the 3 games they have won. The Lions defense is banged up and with Raider nation behind Palmer; he has the opportunity to have a good game.

Ndamukong Suh Returns

Fresh off his two game suspension at the hands of Roger Goodell, Ndamukong Suh is back. Suh is poised for a dominant performance. With two weeks to rest and regain his composure, Suh wants to make a big impact. “I’m looking forward to playing against Oakland and getting back on the football field,” Suh said on Wednesday. He was definitely missed these last two weeks and the Lions are happy to have him back. He just may be the most important player to watch this week.

This week’s match up may be a must win for both teams. If Oakland doesn’t win they will be eliminated from playoff contention. The Lions of the other hand can afford to lose but it isn’t in their best interest. The Lions just seem to have more fire power and a hunger that can’t be matched. I think Detroit will win this one 31-17 but this game will be close most of the way. 
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