The Lions have the league's worst rushing offense, one that is averaging only 79 yards a game, probably because Detroit has the fewest number of rushing attempts in the league. The Lions often fall behind early and often and are forced to throw more than coach Steve Mariucci would like.
It's a pattern the Chiefs need to continue Sunday in Arrowhead. For if they don't, Kansas City's 28th-ranked run defense, one giving up a league-worst 5.2 yards a carry, looks capable of single-handedly putting the Lions Shawn Bryson in the Pro Bowl.
"I know Shawn Bryson personally and I know he's licking his chops waiting to come in here and get a piece of what (Denver's Clinton) Portis got last week," Chiefs defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. "We've got to make sure that doesn't happen."
Portis gashed the Chiefs for 218 rushing yards and five TDs last week. And despite their attempts to convince themselves and their fans that they have a better defense than that, Chiefs players and fans could see on film how Denver's offensive line did pretty much everything it wanted against the Chiefs, leaving Portis free to go wherever he wanted.
"That," Holliday admitted, "was a blow to us."
It's how they respond to that blow that counts most now.
For even though they are 11-2 and can clinch the division title with a win or tie this week, the Chiefs now trail New England by a tiebreaker in the race for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. And with just one more loss in the next three weeks -- which includes a Dec. 20 game at Minnesota -- the Chiefs could fall as far as the No. 3 seed if Indianapolis wins out and also finishes 13-3.
In that scenario, the Colts would have a tiebreaker edge in common opponents -- they will have to beat Denver to win out, and the Chiefs and Broncos have split game. That might mean the Chiefs would face Portis and Denver again in a first-round game at Arrowhead -- a dismal prospect for Kansas City after Portis ran for 359 yards and six TDs on 45 carries (an 8-yard average) in two games against the Chiefs this year.
That's why the Chiefs have to get their defense in order against the Lions this week.
"It's not until we play better that we can show our fans that the defense they saw in the second half in Denver last week is not the team we are or how we want to be remembered," Holliday said. "This is when you see what kind of players you have. You see who can compete, have fortitude, be resilient and mentally tough -- all that stuff you talk about.
"Guys can't go into a shell now. We've still got a good thing going; we're 11-2 and we can still accomplish all our goals if we can win these next three games."
This is the 10th meeting between the Chiefs and Lions. Kansas City leads the series 6-3 after winning the last three contests between the two teams. The last time they played was back in the 1999 season when the Chiefs won 31-21 at Arrowhead.