Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 12/9/11

Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders enters Ford Field before play against the Indianapolis Colts in a Thanksgiving Day game, November 25, 2005 in Detroit. The Colts defeated the Lions 41 to 9. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Take it from Barry Sanders. Its important to learn how to win -- and its important to learn how to deal with success. As the Lions try to get their performance and attitude on track for a playoff push in the last four games, the incomparable running back who played 10 seasons with the Lions has weighed in with some advice and his perspective. As one might expect, Sanders does not see gloom and doom for the Lions as they continue their playoff push in Sundays game against the Vikings at Ford Field. This is a young team, Sanders said in a radio interview Thursday night on WJR (760 AM) in Detroit. Youre learning how to win and learning how to handle success. Those are two different things. There are still a lot of things to learn in that locker room. The Lions were regarded as one of the NFLs rising young teams when they started the season with a 5-0 record. Theyve dropped to 7-5, and their image has been marred by their on-field conduct. Ndamukong Suh was suspended two games for stomping on an opponent in the loss to the Packers on Thanksgiving Day. Last week the Lions committed 11 penalties in a loss at New Orleans. Both games were on national TV, and the Lions gave the impression of an undisciplined team thats out of control. Sanders, who never spiked the ball or celebrated after he scored a touchdown, was more analytical than critical in the radio interview. Obviously, its somewhat of an issue, and theres a fine line when youre a player of being aggressive and crossing the line, Sanders said of the teams image. Theres still a lot to play for. "We start off with a bang, and obviously, the last seven games or so, were 2-5. But theres still a lot to play for. Had you asked me before the season, 'Do you want to be sitting there at 7-5?' youd have taken that. Theres still a lot to play for. Just refocus, tighten down on things in practice. Coach Jim Schwartz lectured the team this week about playing smarter and cutting out selfish penalties. Some veterans voiced the message. My prediction for Sunday is Lions 26, Vikings 10. Here is the FOX Sports Detroit Breakdown for Sundays Lions-Vikings game: Lions spotlight: WR Calvin Johnson One of the most memorable plays in last weeks game came in the first half when the Saints covered Johnson as though he were a gunner on the punt-cover team. The Lions had the ball near the goal line, and the Saints covered Johnson with two defenders standing side by side. No matter how great the receiver is, I have never seen that before, said NBC network analyst Cris Collinsworth, a former NFL receiver with the Bengals. Kevin Smith scored on a two-yard run, but the play demonstrated how much respect teams have for Johnson. He has 22 receptions in the last four games but only one touchdown. His scoring pace has slowed since catching eight TD passes in the first four games, with two in each game. Johnson had a big game against the Vikings in Week 3, with seven catches for 108 yards and two TDs. Johnson made a long catch down the left sideline early in overtime to set up the winning field goal. Vikings spotlight: DE Jared Allen The pass-rush star does things in a big way -- big plays, big sack totals and a big mouth, as the disparaging comments he made Thursday about the city of Detroit indicate. The Lions have to keep him quiet on the field Sunday. That means keeping him off Matthew Stafford. Allen had three sacks in the first game. Allen worked against Jeff Backus, the Lions left tackle, for most of the game. It was one of the worst games of Backus career, but he rebounded and has played consistently well since. Allen ranks second in the league with 14.5 sacks. DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys is No. 1 with 15. Allen is closing in on a personal milestone. He has 97.5 career sacks. If he matches his performance against the Lions in Game 3, hell go over the 100-sack mark. Allen said in a conference-call interview that hed probably be in the running for defensive player of the year if the Vikings were having a better season. But you know what? Allen said. Theres a reason for it. Something good will come out of it. Well be a better team in the future for it. Key matchup: Vikings RB Adrian Peterson Coach Leslie Frazier had a succinct observation about his star running backs health when he spoke to reporters after Thursdays practice. Hes headed in the right direction, Frazier said. The direction is the end zone, and Peterson has been there often in five seasons with the Vikings. Petersons availability is in doubt for Sundays game because of an ankle injury. He was hurt early against Oakland three weeks ago and missed the rest of that game and the last two. Peterson still has impressive rushing totals -- 872 yards, 4.7 yards per carry and 11 rushing touchdowns. He had another good game in the Lions 26-23 overtime win in Game 3. He rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown, with a long run of 43 yards. Playoff scoreboard Here 's a look at three games this week involving teams competing with the Lions in the wild-card race: Falcons (7-5) at Panthers (4-8): Beating the Lions in Game 6 gives the Falcons a tiebreaker advantage. Theyve been somewhat disappointing this season and must contend with Panthers QB Cam Newton. Bears (7-5) at Broncos (7-5): The Bears have to deal with QB issues on two fronts -- their own, where Chad Hanie has had six interceptions in the last two games, and stopping the Broncos Tim Tebow. Giants (6-6) at Cowboys (7-5): They meet again in the last game of the season, and the two games will decide the NFC East. Its probably better for the Lions for the Cowboys to win, even though beating the Cowboys gives the Lions a tiebreaker advantage. Putting another loss or two on the Giants record eliminates them as wild-card challengers.
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