Detroit Lions (6-9) at Tennessee Titans (4-11)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS, Dan Miller, JC Pearson; DirecTV, 7
SERIES: The game Sunday at Nashville will be the ninth meeting between these two franchises, dating to 1971. The Lions went 3-4 when the Titans were the Houston Oilers and dropped their first game against the Titans three years ago. The last four games have been decided by seven points or less.
2004 RANKINGS: Lions: offense 27th (19th rush, 28th pass); defense 23rd (17th rush, 19th pass). Titans: offense 11th (14th rush, 9th pass); defense 26th (18th rush, 25th pass)
--QB Joey Harrington, who struggled through the second half of his third NFL season after getting off to a fast start, says he is willing to restructure his contract to reduce his $10 million cap number in 2005. With a 54.8 percent completion mark, 17 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 75.8 passer rating, Harrington is having his best season, but it is still not where it needs to be if the Lions want to compete in the NFC North.
--RB Kevin Jones has one more chance Sunday at Tennessee to pump up his rookie rushing numbers. Jones has rushed for 753 yards and four touchdowns in the last six weeks, averaging 5.6 yards per carry in the Lions' last six games, during which time they have been the most productive running team in the NFL. For the season, Jones has 1,061 yards.
--P Nick Harris, whose 30 punts inside the 20 rank second in the NFL, has signed a new three-year contract with the Lions. Harris, who would have been an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, has dropped one fewer punt inside the 20 than Chicago's Brad Maynard in 15 fewer attempts.
--LB Donte' Curry, the Lions' leading special-teams tackler, has been re-signed for an additional three years. Curry gets little time at linebacker but has recorded 23 tackles -- 12 solos and 11 assists -- in the Lions' first 15 games and would have been an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
--RG Damien Woody missed both days of heavy workouts this week with groin and hip injuries but is expected to play Sunday in the Lions' season finale at Tennessee. Woody is a key player in the improvement of the Lions' running game, featuring rookie RB Kevin Jones.
--QB Billy Volek will start his eighth game of the season for the Titans in their season finale. He practiced this week despite a banged up left knee suffered in the Christmas night loss to Denver. He'll have a banged up offensive line in front of him trying to hold up against one of the league's better defensive fronts.
--WR Drew Bennett should have a chance to make some catches against Detroit provided a banged up offensive line can give Billy Volek the time find him.
--WR Derrick Mason goes into the Detroit game as the NFL's leading receiver with 92 catches and has said he would like top finish as the league-leader.
--RB Antowain Smith will start his fourth game of the season with Chris Brown out because of turf toe. FB Troy Fleming should be second in line for carries.
--TE Erron Kinney is unlikely to play with a bad sprained ankle. If he plays against the Lions, expect him to stick close to the line of scrimmage.
--TE Ben Troupe has been showing more flashes and should get chances against Detroit with Erron Kinney unlikely to play because of an ankle injury.
--RT Fred Miller continues to struggle with a serious right ankle injury. He's expected to play through it one last time before surgery next week.
The goal isn't just to finish the season the right way Sunday at Tennessee; the Lions would like to finish a game the right way, too.
In their nine losses, coach Steve Mariucci and his players can point to at least six games that could have been theirs if they had been able to finish strong.
They were within three points of the Dallas Cowboys late in the fourth quarter, but the defense couldn't get off the field without giving up a Vinny Testaverde-to-Keyshawn Johnson touchdown.
They trailed the Redskins by a touchdown and drove 78 yards from their own 2 but couldn't finish the drive before time ran out.
They went into overtime, tied at 17-17, at Jacksonville but gave up a touchdown on the first possession of overtime. They led Minnesota 19-7 going into the third quarter at Minneapolis and were up 13-0 at the half in Green Bay.
They needed only to convert an extra point to go into overtime with the Vikings in the rematch two weeks ago.
But in each case, the story was the same. The offense couldn't make a play to win the game or the defense couldn't make a play to get the opposing offense off the field when it counted.
"Close but no cigar," coach Steve Mariucci said. "As we move forward, we've got to find a way to be on the other side of that. And be in the dance."
They have one last chance -- not to make the NFL's playoff dance, but to at least finish strong against the Titans, another team that has struggled through a difficult season. It would make it a little easier, a little more comfortable to slip into the offseason with a 7-9 record than 6-10.
The Detroit Lions' strength is, unfortunately for Tennessee, a good match for one of the Titans' weaknesses as the teams head toward Sunday's season finale at the Coliseum.
The Lions' defensive front four of Shaun Rogers, Dan Wilkinson, James Hall and Cory Redding has accounted for 30.5 of Detroit's 38 sacks.
Tennessee's offensive line lost starting guard Jacob Bell, who had filled in since opening day for Zach Piller (ruptured biceps), to a torn ACL last week in their loss to Denver. Eugene Amano will start in Bell's place.
Center Justin Hartwig still has a bad finger on his snapping hand. Guard Benji Olson has a bad toe. Left tackle Brad Hopkins is playing with a cast on his right hand. Right tackle Fred Miller will have surgery early next week to deal with a troublesome right ankle that has bone chips. And Jason Mathews, the top fill-in on the line, has a bad back.
The Lions will have some chances to get to quarterback Billy Volek.
"They don't really do a lot of trickery or anything like that," Mathews said. "They line up right in front of you. They have two big guys in the middle and two steady guys in the end. They are young and learning every game.
"I am sure they are licking their chops and looking to come down here against the offensive line and find a mismatch here, mismatch there, saying, 'Let's keep this sack thing rolling.'"