It’s not a lock, but there’s a chance the Lions could still make the playoffs. They are grinding through the tough part of the schedule and with a win at Jacksonville on Sunday they will be at .500. Nate Burleson, in a message from his hospital room, told the team that every comeback starts with a setback. The setback was the loss at Chicago, perhaps the comeback started at Ford Field on Sunday. Here are five reasons the Lions have a chance at making the postseason for the second straight year.
1. Matthew Stafford is who we thought he was. Even with the tough start this season, teammates say he never hung his head, he just worked hard like he always does. To get down to basics, he has the arm and the smarts and along with that the respect of the team.
2. The defense played tough against the Seahawks but can play better. Due to injury it’s been a mix-and-match secondary week to week. Young guys like Jonte Green are getting much-needed experience. Safety Ricardo Silva, who was signed from the practice squad on Sept. 29, pulled in his first career interception. Silva was one of four defenseman to play every snap — Chris Houston, Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant.
3. The Lions have found a successful running game using the combination of Mikel Leshoure (10 carries, 46 yards) and Joique Bell (seven for 25 yards). Leshoure start the game and they save Bell for later in the game when his legs are fresh and the defense’s legs are not. On Sunday the Lions finished with 331 passing yards and 84 rushing yards. They don’t look for 50-50 balance, they want the ratio that works on each particular Sunday.
4. Between Titus Young, Ryan Broyles and the tight ends, there are guys who can fill in for Nate Burleson. Oh, he’ll be missed, but Broyles will only improve with increased playing time. Young had a breakout game on Sunday that should boost the level of confidence that Stafford has in him. Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew (seven catches, 74 yards) and Tony Scheffler (four for 46 yards) had major contributions.
5. Look at the Giants last year. They finished the season 9-7. Can’t remember anyone who considered them the Super Bowl favorite and yet they won it. They were 6-6, riding a four-game losing streak, with just four games left and made it to 9-7. The gate is wide open this season. There is not one dominant team.
(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter.)