The Detroit Lions let the likelihood of winning the NFC North basically fade away with their 30-23 loss to Minnesota on Thanksgiving. However, they are still just one game out of the final NFC Wild Card and can make a playoff push by piling up victories at the end of the season. Here are the final five teams the Lions will face, as well as the biggest stories coming out of their locker rooms.
WEEK 13 – @ Baltimore Ravens (6-5), M & T Bank Stadium
The Ravens have won two straight to get above .500 and tie them with Buffalo for the second AFC Wild Card. Their latest win came Monday Night against the reeling Houston Texans. Baltimore’s defense has led the way, including two shutouts in their last three games. They have moved up to seventh in the NFL in total yards allowed and second in points per game at just 17, and that is after giving up 44 points to Jacksonville in London in late September. The good news for Lions’ fans is that they are on a short week heading into the Sunday game against Detroit.
WEEK 14 – @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7), Raymond James Stadium
The Buccaneers fell 34-20 in Atlanta this week, ending their modest win streak at two. Jameis Winston is expected to return to practice this week from his shoulder injury. He has missed Tampa Bay’s last three games, and the thought was that the team might end his season now that they are all but out of playoff contention. However, he has been responding so well to treatments that he might surprise everyone and even play this weekend in Green Bay.
WEEK 15 – vs. Chicago Bears (3-8), Ford Field, Saturday
The Bears have lost four straight games and have scored more than 20 points just three times all season. This week they were embarrassed 31-3 in Philadelphia with Chicago rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky going just 17-of-33 with a pair of interceptions. The Bears never even got in the red zone. It is a big learning curve for Trubisky, and he is suffering through every bit of it. Chicago is at the 49ers this week.
WEEK 16 – @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-6), Paul Brown Stadium, Christmas Eve
The Bengals have won back-to-back games, but this week was a 30-16 win over Cleveland, so it doesn’t really count. Rookie running back Joe Mixon was Cincinnati’s offense, carrying the ball 23 times for 114 yards. It was his first career 100-yard rushing game. He also added three catches for 51 yards. It will be tough for him to repeat that performance going up against the Steelers Monday night.
WEEK 17 – vs. Green Bay Packers (5-6), Ford Field, New Year’s Eve
The season finale on the last day of the year is against a familiar foe – the Packers. At least it is in Ford Field and not Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers has been throwing this week, and it is possible that he will return to the field before this game. Right now, Green Bay is a game behind Detroit, two games out of a playoff spot. Brett Hundley had been struggling to fill in for Rodgers, but Sunday night he had his best game as a pro in a three-point loss to the Steelers, going 17-of-26 for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Green Bay heads to Tampa Bay this weekend.