A disappointing 2012 season finally comes to a close Sunday afternoon, as the Detroit Lions try desperately to avoid carrying an elongated losing streak into 2013. Positive momentum is the biggest reason for the Lions to try and get the job done, in addition to playing spoilers to the Chicago Bears, who need a win to get into the playoffs. Though there's little on the line for the home team other than pride, that can still be a huge motivating factor, especially in a classic rivalry.
Here's five final things to watch for on the last Lions' football Sunday until fall 2013. Don't fret and don't cry, instead, sit back and enjoy. After all, we're almost undefeated again.
1. Mistakes. In the first contest, the Lions made four of them, including a huge fumble in the red zone by Joique Bell which prevented a score. Each turnover was uniquely critical in the outcome, and the Lions need to avoid mistakes like this again in order to win a close game. The 13-7 margin of defeat wasn't that big, and eliminating two of those turnovers would go a long way towards Detroit operating more efficiently and perhaps being able to win.
2. Jay Cutler And Matthew Stafford. Lately, Cutler hasn't been phenomenal at quarterback, even struggling against the struggling Arizona Cardinals defense. Stafford has been woeful lately as well, with accuracy and turnover issues of his own. Which quarterback will elevate his game and play better to close the year? The Bears need a good performance out of Cutler to make the playoffs, while the Lions would like a good game out of Stafford to conclude 2012. Either way, confidence can be built for the future with solid performances
3. The Spoiler Mentality. The Lions have a chance to turn the tables on the Bears and end their season. The rivalry between the franchises has meant plenty of other games like this, with the most recent being in 2000 when the Bears dumped the Lions from the playoffs with a long field goal. This time around, Detroit has that opportunity, and it should lend plenty of excitement to a 4-11 team with winning problems. Will the chance to play spoilers push the Lions over the top against Chicago? Knowing they can eliminate a hated foe, will they play with that extra bounce in their step? It might be the biggest motivating factor of the day.
4. Dirty Or Clean? Here we go again with that "dirty play" stuff. The Bears' Henry Melton accused the Lions of being a dirty team, saying he expected a dirty game on Sunday. Then, Dominic Raiola stood up for his team, claiming not to know exactly who Melton was, despite the fact he was voted to this year's Pro Bowl. Ah, who doesn't love a good pre-game rivalry spat? All talk aside, will the Lions actually play dirty? Will the Bears keep thinking they do, no matter what happens? With the playoffs on the line for Chicago, the Lions might be content to free wheel and play their tough, renegade game.
5. Kicking And Punt Returning. Stefan Logan (finally) will be done in the return game, so what will the Lions do, and how much better will things get? Mike Thomas and Joique Bell were two of the names mentioned otherwise. It's important for the team to see what they have moving forward and discover if there's an internal option to this problem. If there's not, the team will have to make a move in the offseason to fix things. With Logan and some of the others, special teams has become a liability instead of an asset.
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