But now, the Lions have lost four in a row and fallen to 6-6. Three of the four losses were lopsided. Their hopes seem slim, with Dallas, the top team in the NFC, coming to Detroit on Sunday.
"Screw talking about the playoffs," center Dominic Raiola said. "We need to find a way to win that game."
After Dallas, the Lions are at San Diego, at home against Kansas City and at Green Bay.
"Our schedule will never be favorable — whoever's on our schedule — if we want to play like we played today," quarterback Jon Kitna said after Sunday's 42-10 loss at Minnesota.
Kitna was visibly upset after the Lions made the Vikings look like the Patriots, getting dominated in every phase of the game. Kitna, the Lions' inspirational leader, the guy who first talked about winning 10 games, accused some teammates of abandoning ship.
"We don't have a lot of people in our boat right now," Kitna said. "I'm just talking about us in general. We are not heading in the same direction right now as a football team."
Kitna didn't expound on his comments at first. When Kitna was eventually asked if that meant his teammates weren't rowing in the same direction, he said: "No question."
How do you correct that?
"That's not my job," Kitna said. "I have to focus on my job, and my job is to go out and do the best that I can on every single play that I'm out there, prepare the best that I can Monday through Saturday and lay it on the line. Until I can't do that anymore ... This is a man's game. It's about men being men.
Has this team forgotten how it started 6-2?
"I don't know," Kitna said. "There's a lot of questions that are hard to answer to be honest with you. But yeah, I would say, certainly."
Is there any reason to still hope?
"We're still the same players in here, but it's going to be a gut check on how much you really want to do it, because we've made it very difficult on ourselves," Kitna said. "There's an easy way out and a hard way out. We have to choose the hard way if we want to do it. But we have to choose all 53 guys. We can't have some and not the others."
Is there anything Kitna needs to say to his teammates?
"Leaders got to step up and do their job," Kitna said. "But what I can say that's going to make somebody play harder or play better? You just play. My job is to do my job as best I can."
Was Sunday the low point of the season?
"Yeah," Kitna said. "It was pretty ugly."