No Lions Lowdown again because of the short week, and no live blog this week either. The live blog will return next Sunday for the Minnesota game (the next blackout), and hopefully another video is in the works, too. In the meantime, I'll share my usual keys to winning here. I would put the Lions' chances at about 2 percent, and that may be generous, but if they have any shot Thursday against the Titans they have to do these three things:
Stop the run. I'll let the stats tell the story here: The Lions have the NFL's worst rushing defense at 166.7 yards per game. The Titans are only ninth in rushing offense (124.7 ypg), but like Carolina, which put two backs over the 100-yard mark two weeks ago, Tennessee has a lethal one-two punch in Chris Johnson and LenDale White. One more number to munch on: The Lions have allowed exactly twice as many rushing yards as they've gained (1,834 to 917), which means they won't be able to control the clock and keep Johnson and White off the field.
Protect Daunte. Daunte Culpepper hasn't been great in his three starts as a Lion, but he's about their only chance against Tennessee. Backup quarterback Drew Stanton is out with a concussion, leaving Drew Henson, who hasn't taken an NFL snap in four years, No. 2. Beyond that, each previous Lions starter (Jon Kitna and Dan Orlovsky) lasted four games before going down with injury, and the Lions, league leaders with 41 sacks allowed, have their hands full with perhaps the NFL's best defensive line.
Add a wrinkle to the offense. I expect a lot of max protection Thursday and a concerted effort to try and run the ball, but the Lions can't be bland all day. They were aggressive in the first half against Carolina two weeks ago and built an early lead to show for it. Opposing teams have a pretty good idea what Culpepper knows now in the offense not much can change in four days but Jim Colletto has to create magic somewhere to knock the Titans on their heals. That's asking a lot, but at this stage so is winning.