NFC North: Detroit Lions

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – When he steps inside Lambeau Field on Sunday, Joe Lombardi might glance into the upper reaches of the historic stadium of the Green Bay Packers.

And if one interesting, different thing happens Sunday before the game for the Detroit Lions offensive coordinator, it'll be then.

“Certainly I grew up with some of the mementos around,” Lombardi said. “It’s cool. It’s fun to walk out and see your grandfather’s name on the ring of fame, but it’ll be business as usual, I think.”

[+] EnlargeJoe Lombardi
Carlos Osorio/AP PhotoBeing a Lombardi opened the door for admission to the Packers Hall of Fame for Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. But that's about it.
His grandfather is Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Packers and the man the Super Bowl Trophy is named after.

Some of the mementos lying around included pictures and Super Bowl rings that were in view. So it wasn’t an ordinary upbringing in that respect for Joe Lombardi.

Lombardi said he’ll probably take Detroit’s offensive staff to the steakhouse bearing his family name – Lombardi’s – this weekend while the team is in Wisconsin, but that it won’t be a big deal, either.

“Listen, there’s been a lot of big names that have gone through Green Bay since my grandpa,” Lombardi said. “They’re not interested in Joe Lombardi; they’re interested in Vince Lombardi and all the famous people that have come since then.”

The Lombardi name did get him one other cool token that at one point he hoped would be a bigger deal – a lifetime pass to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Then, in college, he went up to visit Green Bay, Wisconsin, with some friends.

And he found out it didn’t really get him much at all.

“I had this lifetime pass, this metal card that I got sent when I was 8 years old or something,” Lombardi said. “Somehow I kept it around. So I was like, ‘Watch this, we’ll be MVPs.’ Then we walked in and it was like, ‘Go ahead,’ and it wasn’t a big deal. No one paid any attention.

“Said Joe Lombardi, it was this metal kind of thing. I thought it would be like, ‘All right, VIP.’ But they were like, ‘Go ahead.’ I got in for free. They had to pay 10 bucks or whatever it was.”

Lombardi said he probably still has the pass somewhere in the bottom of a box from all the coaching moves his family has made since then, but he isn’t sure where it is.

This weekend, though, he won’t have to worry about paying for access to Lambeau Field. He’ll be in there coaching for a division title.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The mostly healthy Detroit Lions had one surprise player show up on the team’s injury report Wednesday: running back Joique Bell.

Bell showed up with an Achilles injury and was limited in practice as the Lions prepare for the Green Bay Packers in an NFC North title game this Sunday.

There was no indication when Bell injured his Achilles or how severe the injury was other than it limited Detroit’s leading rusher Wednesday. Bell was present at the media portion of practice and Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi didn’t seem too concerned that Bell would miss this Sunday’s game.

“Boy, I don’t think so,” Lombardi said. “I think he’ll be all right.”

The 28-year-old Bell is having the best season of his career. He’s carried the ball a career-high 210 times for a career-high 800 yards. He’s scored seven rushing touchdowns. He also has caught 34 passes for 322 yards and one receiving touchdown.

If Bell were somehow unable to play, the Lions would rely more on veteran Reggie Bush and potentially a combination of Theo Riddick and George Winn to try and bolster the league’s No. 27 rushing offense.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Earlier this week, Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he felt there is sometimes a lack of appreciation for his quarterback, Matthew Stafford, both in the media and among the public.

Stafford
Stafford
The former No. 1 overall pick in 2009 is in his sixth year in the league and he’s made 76 starts through that time -- including every game over the past four seasons heading into the regular-season finale at Green Bay.

“I think there is a lack of appreciation for him around here, I think, at times,” Caldwell said. “Let me just tell you something, he's a man's man, he's a tough guy, he gets hit out there every single ball game, he hangs in there, and there may be one he'd like to have back but then there's a couple others that's probably not all his fault. I think when you look at the numbers and all that kind of stuff, we make assessments based on that, and that's it.

“He also did a lot of great things for us, I'll tell you what, he's progressing, I'm proud of the way that guy is playing, and I think also you're going to see him get better and better."

This season, Stafford’s yards have been down at 4,040 in 15 games. So, too, are his touchdowns -- 19 through 15 games. What has gone up, though, is his completion percentage of 61.1 percent and his passer rating of 85.4. Both are the highest they’ve been since 2011, the last time Detroit made the playoffs.

Statistically, though, he’s been pretty average compared to the rest of the NFL. He is ranked No. 18 in the NFL in QBR at 56.4, 23rd in completion percentage, 16th in touchdowns, tied for 17th in interceptions with 12 and 20th in passer rating at 85.4.

Stafford has gone through hot and cold stretches this season, although he has been far more consistent than he was last season, when he was very good in the first half of the year and very poor in the second half.

He doesn’t, though, care much about what other people think about him or why his coach would say he’s underappreciated in the media.

“I don’t know,” Stafford said. “I don’t pay attention to whether you guys give a rip about me or not.”
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Matthew Stafford won't have his center, Dominic Raiola, for the first time in his career Sunday when the Detroit Lions face the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title.

Swanson
He isn't as concerned as he might have been a few years ago.

While the connection between Raiola and Stafford is important -- the two meet weekly to make sure they are on the same page heading into Sundays -- Stafford makes more calls at the line now than he did in prior seasons.

This lessens the potential strain on Stafford and the Detroit offense that might have been there in years past. Stafford also has confidence in backup Travis Swanson because he spent the majority of the season learning under Raiola, who Stafford called one of the best mental centers in the NFL.

He said one of the bigger adjustments might be in-game corrections that he and Raiola innately understood from over 5,000 snaps together, but he isn't worried about how Swanson will pick it up.

"Swanny and I wlll be fine," Stafford said. "I'm looking forward to watching him play."

For the Lions to win in Green Bay on Sunday -- something the Lions haven't done since Swanson, 23, was less than a year old -- they'll need him to play more like a veteran than the first-year player he is.

Stafford said he has worked with Swanson before and after practices before this week, when they'll work together a lot. There's also a level of comfort for Swanson. While this will be his first start in the NFL at center -- a spot he was expected to eventually take from Raiola anyway either in 2015 or 2016 -- he did play almost four full games, including three starts, at right guard replacing Larry Warford.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell said while Swanson will be starting for the first time at center, he has used him a lot in that situation during practices.

"He's been in and out of there quite a bit," Caldwell said. "A starting role is different in that regard, but in terms of reps and opportunity, we're trying to certainly work him in that role for quite some time."

On Sunday, though, he'll end up having to actually play that role for the first time in the regular season.
» Pro Bowl analysis: AFC | NFC » Complete roster

SELECTIONS:

Glover Quin, S, first Pro Bowl selection: He ranted about changing the Pro Bowl voting earlier this season, and now Quin is a first-time Pro Bowler. He leads the NFL in interceptions with seven and has been one of the leaders of the Lions’ defense. He has intercepted passes in the past four games and is the first Detroit safety to be picked for the game since Bennie Blades in 1992.

Who he beat out: Harrison Smith, Minnesota; Antoine Bethea, San Francisco; James Ihedigbo, Detroit; Devin McCourty, New England.

Ndamukong Suh, DT, fourth Pro Bowl selection: One of the most dominant tackles in the game, Suh is the third-rated defensive tackle in the league according to Pro Football Focus and has 35 quarterback hurries according to PFF -- the most among defensive tackles in the league. He changes the way offenses scheme against Detroit.

Who he beat out: Johnathan Hankins, New York Giants; Sharrif Floyd, Minnesota; Terrance Knighton, Denver.

Calvin Johnson, WR, fifth Pro Bowl selection: He had another 1,000-yard season despite missing three games due to injury and being limited in two others. He hasn’t put up the numbers he typically does -- he has only 67 catches -- but he's considered one of the top receivers in the game and is a matchup nightmare.

Who he beat out: Golden Tate, Detroit; Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants; Emmanuel Sanders, Denver; Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia.

SNUBS:

Golden Tate, WR, no Pro Bowls: The NFL’s leader in yards after catch with 683, he also is fourth in the league in receptions (96) and seventh in yards (1,286). He also has been a more reliable target than Calvin Johnson this season and more durable, too. He has set career highs in receptions and yards.

Who he should have beaten out: Calvin Johnson, Detroit. Tate has more yards and catches than his teammate and has been more consistent. Johnson is one of the best receivers in the game, but Tate has had the better season.

DeAndre Levy, LB, no Pro Bowls: He leads the league in solo tackles with 109 and is third in the NFL in tackles with 140. He’s one of the best linebackers in coverage in the NFL and was a snub for the second straight season. He’s been one of the key cogs of the Detroit defense.

Who he should have beaten out: It’s tough to say because Levy is a 4-3 linebacker going up against 3-4 linebackers who compile gaudy statistics and almost play a different position than Levy as far as usage goes. If you were to expand it to linebackers overall, he probably should have beaten out rookie C.J. Mosley of Baltimore.

QB snapshot: Matthew Stafford

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
1:00
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A quick observation of Matthew Stafford and how he played in the Detroit Lions' 20-14 win against the Chicago Bears in Week 16:

Stafford
Stafford
It was a somewhat rough day for Stafford. He threw two interceptions -- the first time he had been picked off since Week 12 and the first time he had multiple interceptions in a game since Week 7. He didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time since Week 12, either, and was under 60 percent completions for only the second time in the second half of the season.

Both of his interceptions came in the red zone. Before Sunday, he had two red zone interceptions in his past 32 games combined.

It was only the ninth game in his regular-season career he threw a red zone interception, and his 11 and 12th red zone interceptions overall.

"Honestly, from my point of view, you can't have two turnovers," Stafford said Sunday. "First of all, I need to get [the ball] out of the back of the end zone. If I'm going to make the decision to put it there, I have to throw it all the way out.

"On the second one, it was an aggressive throw. [Ryan Mundy] made a nice play. I'll give him credit for it."

By QBR rating, though, Stafford had a fairly average day with a 56.2 overall rating, although his 53.7 passer rating was his second-worst performance of the season. A lot of the better QBR had to do with the pressure Stafford faced all day.

He was sacked four times by Chicago's defense and was hurried 11 times by the Bears.

Now Stafford faces Green Bay, a team he has a career QBR of 46.4 against. He has completed 201 of 340 passes for 2,377 yards, with 13 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions in the eight games he's faced the Packers.

The good news for Stafford is he has been better on the road against Green Bay than at home. At Lambeau Field, Stafford has not won, but he is 88-of-144 for 1,046 yards with seven touchdowns, three interceptions and a QBR of 68.2. His completion percentage of 61.1 at Green Bay is better than his career average (59.8 percent), and the Lions will need Stafford to be better than average if they want to win the NFC North on Sunday.
David Morian was a believer in June when he took a chance with art on his body. He heard his friends and family joking with him when he decided to get a tattoo with an unlikely proclamation on it.

Morian, 23, tattooed the Vince Lombardi Trophy and the Detroit Lions logo on the inside of his left calf during the "Dave and Chuck The Freak Morning Show" on Detroit radio station WRIF this summer. That's one thing. Here's where he went really bold -- on top of the trophy he had the words "Super Bowl" written in script.

[+] EnlargeLions Tat
101 WRIF/Greater Media Detroit Lions fan David Morian continues to hold out hope that Detroit can win the Super Bowl in 2015 -- just like it reads on the tattoo on his left calf.
At the bottom of the trophy, he had "2015 Champs" written in the same script lettering.

At the time, the Lions didn't appear to be true playoff contenders, let alone a Super Bowl team. And now? The Lions are headed to the playoffs.

"It's been an experience, I guess," Morian told ESPN.com earlier this week. "I was really hoping that this was how [the season] was going to turn out and really we're starting to make something right now.

"It's getting me excited."

Morian said he's occasionally been asked about the tattoo when he's gone out to local bars. Eventually, he said some of his work colleagues at Knight Global figured out he was the same David Morian who got the Lions tattoo on the radio, creating some funny conversations.

Overall, he said the reaction has been nothing major. He said his friends joked with him that the tattoo had something to do with Detroit coming from behind to win games throughout the season, but he laughed that off.

He does like what he's seen from the Lions when he watched games from his Grand Blanc, Michigan, home throughout the season. While he hasn't attended a game this season, he said he saved up enough money to go to a home playoff game should the Lions have one.

"Not a whole lot's changed," Morian said. "Still really optimistic about what's going to happen going into Sunday. Can't wait for that game.

"It's going to be a big one."

He's also picked up a few more superstitions since getting the tattoo, too. He said he doesn't wear his Calvin Johnson jersey anymore because the Lions seem to play better when he isn't wearing it. He also said he stays off social media during games because whatever he posts typically backfires.

He has no regrets getting the tattoo, though, because "it puts a smile on my face every time I see it."

He also maintained what he said when he initially got the tattoo, that he believed this season was going to be different for Detroit and so far, it has been.

"There was the same feeling you get every year as a Lions fan, but this year it was different," Morian said. "A lot of different pieces falling into place at the same time.

"It did feel different, like this actually could be a different kind of year for us."
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Dominic Raiola did this to himself.

That is the easiest way to explain why the longtime Detroit Lions center was suspended Monday for one of the biggest games of his 14-year career in Detroit -- a NFC North title game against the Green Bay Packers.

Raiola’s history as well as Sunday’s stomp on Ego Ferguson’s ankle led the NFL to make this move as the league cited his six safety-related violations since 2010 as part of the reason for the suspension. That he stomped on the ankle of the Chicago defensive lineman and then insisted afterward it was unintentional was just the last in a string of incidents.

Even though Raiola called it unintentional, the league clearly saw it differently, and barring a reversal on appeal at his hearing Tuesday, he will sit for the Lions on Sunday against the Packers. And he can’t blame anyone else for it.

Earlier this season, Raiola was caught taking a swing at the back of the head of New England defensive lineman Zach Moore -- drawing a fine of $10,000. He wasn’t fined for the initial play that caught people’s attention at first, which was a cut block on Moore when the Detroit Lions were kneeling for the game's final play.

Raiola was unapologetic then, and though he apologized to Ferguson and other Chicago players this time, it wasn’t enough for him to avoid a suspension.

Last season, he had to apologize and make a donation to the Wisconsin marching band after making inappropriate comments toward them during the Green Bay-Detroit game. He also used an obscene gesture and got into a verbal altercation with a fan in Miami in 2010 -- costing him $15,000 -- and was fined $7,500 in 2008 for making an inappropriate gesture to a Lions fan after the team dropped to 0-13.

So Raiola has acted this way from time-to-time for a long time, and it finally caught up to him at one of the worst times for the Detroit Lions, as they get ready for one of the biggest games in franchise history.

It also calls into question where the Lions sit with discipline right now. Lions coach Jim Caldwell has been fairly strong on disciplining his players so far this season, having suspended Brandon Pettigrew for a quarter against Tampa Bay for a violation of team rules and suspending Joique Bell for the first quarter of Sunday’s game against Chicago for a violation of team rules.

He also sent C.J. Mosley home from London and suspended him for two weeks for a violation of team rules.

Those were off-field issues, though, and they are something Caldwell talks about with his team constantly.

"Every week," Caldwell said. "It’s kind of where the high cost for low living comes in, so you cover the gamut and you’ve got to keep it before them."

Now, Caldwell can use Raiola’s actions as another teaching point -- to play cleaner on the field. This was even an issue for Detroit on Sunday beyond Raiola’s stomp. Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah was flagged for unnecessary roughness when he made contact with the head of Chicago quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Clausen was found to have a concussion after the game, likely stemming from Ansah’s illegal hit, and already has been ruled out for the Bears' finale against Minnesota.

Typically, there is not much of a reason to make a big deal about penalties, especially considering Seattle, New England and Denver have all committed more infractions than the Lions this season. But Caldwell has made a point of saying any more than three penalties a game is too much.

That’s a mark Detroit has yet to hit this season. Now, after the most experienced player in the locker room is missing perhaps the biggest game of his career because of on-field shenanigans, Caldwell can use it to bring home his point even more.

Play clean on the field. Do things right off of it. Otherwise, there will be consequences, as the Detroit Lions have continued to find out throughout the season.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Nick Fairley hasn’t practiced for eight weeks. He has missed seven games. On Monday, though, Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell still wouldn’t rule him out of returning at some point this season.

Fairley
 Caldwell said there is no deadline for either Fairley to return or for the team to place him on injured reserve.

“I keep saying it, but he is getting better,” Caldwell said. “He’s coming along. Off the crutches, into strength training on that particular injury and he’s making progress.”

Caldwell said roster situations would dictate whether or not the Lions would continue to keep Fairley active in hopes of a return at some point, either Sunday against Green Bay or during the playoffs. The Lions will continue to weigh the possibility of keeping him up or putting him on injured reserve.

Fairley injured his knee against Atlanta in London during Week 8. He didn’t have surgery on the knee and has been improving over the past two months. He has been spotted walking without crutches in recent weeks.

The Lions have used a combination of C.J. Mosley, Andre Fluellen and Jason Jones in Fairley’s place during the time he's missed.
CHICAGO -- The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers will play Sunday for the NFC North title and a likely bye in the NFC playoffs.

The teams just won't be doing it on "Sunday Night Football."

Kickoff time for the Lions-Packers game was moved to 4:25 p.m. next Sunday at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Both teams are 11-4. If Green Bay wins, the Packers win the division. The Packers have won the NFC North the last three seasons.

If Detroit wins or the game ends in a tie, the Lions would win their first division title since 1993.

In their one matchup this season, Detroit beat Green Bay 19-7 at Ford Field in Detroit. However, the Lions haven't won in the state of Wisconsin since 1991.

The game will be televised on Fox.
CHICAGO -- They haven't been in these types of games before in the final week of the season. Typically for the Detroit Lions, this has been the guaranteed last week of the season.

Johnson
Nothing left to play for except for pride, and in some cases, future contracts. This week will be the opposite of that for Detroit.

For the first time in the careers of the majority of these players, they will be playing in Week 17 with a playoff berth secured and a possible NFC North title on the line next Sunday in Green Bay.

"It's pretty awesome to go play for a division championship," wide receiver Calvin Johnson said. "That's pretty cool. First time I've been in this position. Second time I've been in the playoff hunt.

"So definitely looking forward to this opportunity."

No current Detroit player has been in this type of position with the Lions before. In 2011, when the Lions last made the playoffs, Green Bay had run away with the division. Detroit has not been in this type of position -- a de facto divisional title game in the last week of the season -- since 1993, the last time the Lions actually won a division crown.

Coincidentally, the Lions beat Green Bay in Michigan in that regular-season finale, 30-20, to secure the division crown. The two teams played again the next week at the Pontiac Silverdome and the Packers beat the Lions, 28-24, to end Detroit's season in the wild-card round.

That was over 20 years ago, when the Lions played in a differently-named division (the NFC Central) and in a different stadium (the Silverdome as opposed to Ford Field).

Detroit's first-round pick in 2014, tight end Eric Ebron, was not even a year old. So it's been a while, and it would be understandable if the Lions were a bit excited for the chance.

"Absolutely. This is what you play the game for," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "You play the game to play extremely meaningful games in December. I know they'll be excited for it.

"I know everyone in our locker room will be excited for it as well. It's a chance for us to win our division and do everything we wanted to when we started the season."
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CHICAGO -- The Detroit Lions talked a good game after playing a fairly bad one Sunday afternoon.

They said all the right things about knowing they need to improve, despite winning another game on the road, and being in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. But there’s a difference between saying it and believing it and actually doing it.

Right now, the Lions need to start doing what they’ve been saying for weeks -- namely, improving on slow starts and overall on offense after another somewhat sluggish 20-14 win over Chicago on Sunday.

The Lions keep winning these close, somewhat ugly games. These are games the Lions often lost in past years, and there is some value in how Detroit has pulled off these wins, even when the offense and special teams were not playing well.

But the Lions have beat up a lot of sub-par teams this season. Detroit has beaten only two teams with winning records through 16 weeks -- Miami and Green Bay -- and both those wins were at Ford Field. Barring an unexpected trip to the NFC South winner in the playoffs, the Lions are going to face teams with high levels of talent and winning records the rest of the way.

Simply put, the Lions need to be better than they were Sunday against Chicago if they want to win the NFC North or make any sort of extended run in the playoffs.

“That’s clear to see that we’ve got to play better,” wide receiver Calvin Johnson said. “We can’t turn the ball over three times. You can’t win against a good team while turning the ball over three times. Not saying Chicago wasn’t a good team, but we just grinded it out today.”

The Lions didn’t play particularly well in any facet Sunday. They were hampered by too many mistakes on offense, including Matthew Stafford's throwing two red zone interceptions -- the same number of red zone interceptions he had thrown over his prior 32 games combined.

Special-teams play was atrocious and led to both Chicago scores. Lions returner Jeremy Ross muffed catching a punt and allowed Chicago to recover and score a touchdown. A roughing-the-punter penalty extended another Bears drive that led to a touchdown.

On defense, the Lions allowed journeyman quarterback Jimmy Clausen, in his first start since the 2010 season, to have his first career multi-touchdown day.

“We’ve got a ways to go, as you can see,” defensive tackle C.J. Mosley said. “Today wasn’t the prettiest of games. We’ve got a lot of things to correct. Just to get better, still a lot of things to work at.”

A lot of that begins with the first halves of games, in which the Lions have outscored their opponents 150-143. In the second halves of games, the Lions have played much better and outscored their opponents 151-109.

Detroit has trailed at halftime in six of its games and was tied with the Bears on Sunday. The Lions also have scored fewer than 10 points in the first half of six games this year.

The Lions also committed all three of their turnovers in the first half and once again spotted a team a lead. Often this season, Detroit has been able to overcome that. It’s why the Lions are a playoff team instead of one already knowing they’d be watching at home this season.

“We can start faster. A faster start in the playoffs because all teams are good,” cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “They got there for a reason, so you don’t want to be lagging behind. You don’t want to be behind the eight ball, especially when it’s self-inflicted.”

The “self-inflicted” issues were everywhere in Detroit’s first half Sunday, and it is something the team has to fix as soon as it can, if it wants to avoid a premature end to the season.
CHICAGO -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Detroit Lions20-14 win over the Chicago Bears:
  • Mathis
    When the Bears switched quarterbacks during the week from Jay Cutler to Jimmy Clausen, it sent cornerback Rashean Mathis back to watching film in an entirely different strategy because he knew very little about Clausen, who had not started a game since the 2010 season. “I did [watch more film], actually,” Mathis said. “You kind of know the other quarterbacks you play against, especially Cutler -- we play against him twice. Played against him before. But I didn’t know much about this guy. I knew their offense, but I didn’t know too much about him as a quarterback. Each quarterback is different, and each quarterback likes to do different things. He just showed me confidence.”
  • With the Lions and Green Bay Packers in a winner-take-division-and-likely-bye contest next Sunday, there’s a chance the two teams might play the night game in Week 17. At least one Detroit player, Calvin Johnson, wants no part of a night game in northern Wisconsin. “I don’t think anybody wants that game to be flexed for the main reason that we’re playing in Green Bay,” Johnson said. “And at nighttime.” Are the Packers more imposing at night? “No,” Johnson said. “It’s cold at night.”
  • Left guard Rob Sims said he caught the “tail end” of Saturday’s Philadelphia-Washington game that propelled Detroit into the playoffs. After the game was over, clinching the Lions’ first berth in the postseason since 2011, he estimated that 10 or so people called him to offer congratulations, mostly family members.

Rapid Reaction: Detroit Lions

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
4:06
PM ET

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Detroit Lions’ 20-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.

What it means: The Lions are in the playoffs, but right now they don’t look like a team that might have a long stay. The Lions again struggled on offense and special teams, but they won their 11th game of the season -- tying the second-best total in franchise history.

There has to be concern with the way Detroit is winning games right now. Against teams in the bottom half of the league such as Minnesota and Chicago, the Lions can get away with not playing well and winning. They won’t be able to do that from now on -- a matchup with Green Bay looms next Sunday, followed by playoff opponents.

Stock watch: Rising -- Calvin Johnson. He gained more than 100 yards in a game for the 44th time in his career, eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season for the fifth straight season and continued to make big plays in the second half of the season for Detroit. He had six catches for 103 yards against the Bears.

Rising -- Glover Quin. The safety effectively ended the game Sunday with an interception. His seventh pick of the year leads the NFL, and he has an interception in his last four games. He has been playing well enough in the second half of the season that he should be considered for the Pro Bowl.

Falling -- Jeremy Ross. The Detroit punt returner hasn’t broken through on much this season and he had a disastrous first half, muffing a punt inside the Detroit 20. It was recovered by the Bears and set up Chicago’s first touchdown.

Dominic Raiola’s questionable play: The longtime Lions center was caught on film committing what looked like an extremely dirty play, stepping on Chicago defensive lineman Ego Ferguson’s ankle in the third quarter. Ferguson had to be helped off the field after the play. This isn’t the first time Raiola has done something questionable this season, as he was fined for his antics on the final drive of the game against New England last month.

Game ball: Joique Bell was held out in the first quarter, but when he returned Sunday, he again gave Detroit a potent running game. Yes, he got help from Reggie Bush for the majority of the game against the Bears, but Bell’s juking, spinning 17-yard game-winning touchdown run gave the Lions yet another fourth-quarter comeback victory. Bell had 13 carries for 74 yards.

What’s next: The Lions go to Green Bay for next Sunday's regular-season finale with the NFC North title on the line.
CHICAGO -- The Detroit Lions claimed Josh Thomas earlier this week from the New York Jets, and now he'll be active in his first game for his new team Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

With rookie cornerback Mohammed Seisay inactive Sunday due to injury, Thomas will be Detroit's fourth cornerback against the Bears.

Other than that, all of the Lions who have been inactive for the majority of the season continue to be inactive: Nick Fairley, Kellen Moore, Larry Webster, Caraun Reid, Rodney Austin and wide receiver Ryan Broyles.

The more interesting news comes from Chicago, where guard Kyle Long is inactive with a hip injury. In past Lions-Bears games, Long had been responsible for matching up with Ndamukong Suh. Considering the Bears are starting Jimmy Clausen at quarterback -- his first start since 2010 -- he needed all the healthy offensive linemen he could get.

Instead, perhaps his best lineman will be out Sunday.

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