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Detroit Lions, Destiny in Their Hands, Starting to Crack Under Intense Pressure Once Again

December 10th, 2013 at 3:03 PM
By Max DeMara

Scoreboard watching is the most fruitless endeavor in sports, and the Detroit Lions, despite having destiny in their own hands, look resigned to a fate of depending on other teams to do their dirty work down the stretch.

'Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings 2012/09/30' photo (c) 2012, kdoebler@att.net - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Last weekend, they got a gift from the Chicago Bears, who inexplicably lost to the Minnesota Vikings thanks to a botched field goal decision in overtime. Last night, they didn't get as lucky, as the Bears rebounded to thrash the Dallas Cowboys at home, setting up a three game, tour de force finish for the division crown.

The NFC North is still, amazingly, anyone's division.

It shouldn't be. The Lions, also known as the healthiest team in the division, should be running away with things, or at least keeping pressure on the opposition behind them. Instead, the Bears remain in a virtual tie with Detroit, and the Green Bay Packers, even after getting hammered on Thanksgiving Day, are still in play at 6-6-1 ahead of getting Aaron Rodgers back. In short, things are starting to get a little tense in Motown.

If the Lions don't win all three of their final, very winnable games, they will put themselves at the real risk of missing the playoffs in a season and second half schedule which should see them excelling. If Detroit manages to get into the playoffs while still losing, they will have only backed in, and that feat wouldn't be a notable accomplishment at all. "Our focus is on the next three, starting with the Ravens on Monday night," Jim Schwartz barked Monday. 

Enough is enough. Detroit should be focusing on their own problems before the next three games, cleaning up turnover errors, finding some answers for a continually porous secondary and, perhaps most important of all, getting the right mindset in advance of the Baltimore Ravens' impending visit on Monday night. While the Ravens have been an average 7-6 this season, they've got enough quality players to make things difficult on Detroit, as do the New York Giants, who are arguably still better coached. With the Vikings set to close out the Metrodome, the Lions' personal house of horrors, it's clear nothing is certain even in the final, "easiest" game of the year.

It's a scarier than needed finish for the Lions, who could have eliminated such concerns simply by winning games they should have in late October and most of November. Instead, they're now forced to prove they have the mental and physical fortitude to withstand visits from the last two Super Bowl champions and win in a building where they've tasted victory exactly once in the last 15 years. It was the nightmare scenario that looked entirely possible the day the schedule was released. Suddenly, the prospects aren't looking very phenomenal for the Lions taking things by their own force. If Detroit can lose at home to Tampa Bay, anything is possible over the next three weeks.

In other words, it might be time for fans to start focusing entirely on scoreboard watching, which as this past weekend proved, is always the riskiest proposition in football. Unless a major dose of gumption is found, the Lions won't be taking the NFC North by themselves.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

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Tags: Detroit, Detroit Lions, Football, Jim Schwartz, NFL

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