The Lions are struggling with a 2-9 record, floundering worse than they have at any time all season and the NFL schedule-maker is showing them no mercy. At least that's one way of looking at it.
The other way of viewing it is that the Lions just wasted their best opportunity of the season -- losing consecutive games to San Francisco, Arizona and Miami -- and now they have to prepare to finish the season against some of the NFL's better teams.
The Lions begin the final month of the season Sunday with a game at New England, followed by Minnesota, Green Bay, Chicago and the Dallas Cowboys. Three of the five are leading their divisions and the Lions already have lost once this year to Minnesota and Green Bay.
To make it worse, the Lions are battling a devilish injury bug and the current three-game losing streak is threatening to take the heart out of them.
"I'm tired of hearing about how hard we played and 'if we just do this' and 'it's just by a little bit' and by 'that much,'" said linebacker Donte Curry, the Lions' special teams captain. "We just need to go out there and dominate for four hard quarters and, until then, it's going to be tough on us."
With the change of coaches and a seemingly new, positive approach, there was a feeling that the Lions were on their way to escaping a five-year run at the bottom of the NFL standings. They knew it wouldn't be easy but there was a feeling that there would be movement as the season progressed.
Instead, they have gone the other way. Instead of gathering momentum with the softest portion of their schedule -- the 49ers, Cardinals and Dolphins -- the Lions have found nothing but discouragement.
"I'm kind of speechless," said tackle Jeff Backus, "because I really believe in coach (Rod) Marinelli and his philosophy of football and the way he is coaching us. To not show positive results or have positive results is extremely disappointing and frustrating. It's just not what anybody expected and we have to somehow figure this thing out."
The next loss -- and the oddsmakers say it will come in the game Sunday at Foxborough -- will push them to their sixth consecutive double-digit loss season and there is little suggest they will finish the season on any kind of upswing.
Marinelli is doing his best to stay focused on the work ethic and dedication he feels are the necessities in turning around a losing program.
"I've always been about working and I just believe in work," Marinelli said after the 27-10 loss to Miami on Thanksgiving Day. "I believe in preparation, I believe in respect in this game and I believe in just what I told the players right afterward.
"This stuff, I just move on. I just believe in them. I'm going to go right back and coach them very, very hard. When you put it on yourself and your staff, it's up to us to get them ready and play better ... no, I still see light and I'm just going to keep working at it."