A loss to Green Bay would mean 'Next Year'

A 5-and-7 team may very well go on to make the NFC playoffs this season, but it probably won't be the Detroit Lions. For all intents and purposes, this Sunday's game in Green Bay is the Lions season. Detroit needs to think "run the table" if it wants a post-season appearance

(ALLEN PARK) - A 5-and-7 team may very well go on to make the NFC playoffs this season, but it probably won't be the Detroit Lions. For all intents and purposes, this Sunday's game in Green Bay is the Lions season. Head coach Steve Mariucci hasn't emphasized it too much, but he must know that unless the Lions finish 9-7, there is little chance of them getting into a playoff spot.

Detroit needs to at least gain a split with Minnesota and Green Bay to avoid losing a tie-breaker situation. If the Lions lose to Green Bay on Sunday, they lose any tiebreaker involving the Packers. They would have lost yet another divisional game and another conference game. It is unlikely that Green Bay would lose out from that point forward.

That would mean the best they could do is hope for Green Bay to win the division and then win their last three games to finish 8-8. Detroit would need Minnesota to go 1-3 in its last four games to even tie the Vikings, then they would need to beat them out in the myriad of playoff tiebreaker scenarios. They would further need to leapfrog over a 6-6 team, either Seattle or St. Louis while beating out the suddenly red-hot Carolina Panthers.

Detroit's thinking needs to be "run the table". There is no team remaining on the Lions schedule that is unbeatable, starting with Green Bay. This is the same team that endured a 30-point thumping at the hands of the class of the conference, Philadelphia, last weekend.

Rookie running back Kevin Jones has begun to breakout over the last four weeks, posting three straight 100-yard games and has a good shot at breaking the 1,000-yard mark for the season. With a 4:00pm start in Wisconsin, the temperatures are expected to drop and hover near the 30's by the end of the game with snow and wind in the forecast for the Green Bay area.

If Jones can run the ball effectively against Green Bay and help limit Favre's opportunities offensively, it bodes well for Detroit's chances to pull an upset and really put themselves back into the playoff race at 6-7.

If the Lions lose this one, it will be tough to recapture the enthusiasm that a possible playoff berth instills into the players. Mariucci's job will then be to try to keep the players from taking the last three games off. "I-75 eyes" can start to develop when players lose interest, or worse, begin making plans for their own impending free agency and offseason.

It would be a great payoff for long-suffering Lions fans if this team finished 9-7 and would be the mark of a masterful coaching job by Steve Mariucci and his staff. Even an 8-8 record would show solid improvement over last season's dismal 5-11 record and show the Lions are headed in the right direction for 2005.

Wayne Fontes' version of the Lions seemingly were always around to make a late season push to get into the playoffs. Maybe the Lions can bring in Wayne-O to give this season's edition a pep talk.

Lions Report Top Stories