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4 Players Who Must Step Up for Detroit Lions to Earn a Playoff Berth

Eric VincentCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2016

4 Players Who Must Step Up for Detroit Lions to Earn a Playoff Berth

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    After a tough 13-7 loss on Monday night to the Chicago Bears, the Detroit Lions continue their slumping season. They're currently 2-4 at the very bottom of the NFC North, and unfortunately haven't provided many signs for a turnaround.

    Luckily, it's still early enough in the season to give Detroit a shot at the postseason. And despite the bad play on the field, the Lions have kept every game fairly close this season. Detroit hasn't lost by more than eight points.

    The Lions need a vast improvement from plenty of players on their roster. All hope is not lost for this team, but Detroit needs an immediate impact to regain their playoff form of last year.

1. Titus Young

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    Titus Young has been one of the biggest disappointments this season for Detroit. With hopes of a breakout year, the second-year receiver has put together a sophomore slump instead. A season full of dropped passes and questionable effort has many scratching their heads in confusion.

    Young has only caught 17 balls for 204 yards and one touchdown. Besides a Hail Mary touchdown from Shaun Hill against the Tennessee Titans, Young hasn't been much of a factor. 

    Veteran Nate Burleson injured his leg on Monday against Chicago, eliminating him for the rest of the season due to injury. With Burleson gone, Young's role in the Lions' offense just skyrocketed.

    Teams continue to bracket Calvin Johnson with double and triple teams. The Lions need Young to erase coverage to free up Megatron. 

2. Stefan Logan

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    The Detroit Lions' offense could use a short field to work with from time to time. Unfortunately, the Lions' return game has been non-existent. 

    Stefan Logan has only nine kickoff returns for 194 yards through six games. Logan has also developed a ball-security issue the past two games with three fumbles, including one lost. The Lions can't afford to give up field position to opponents by fumbling.

    Logan and the return unit can bring much-needed life to the Lions. Detroit hasn't gotten many explosive returns from Logan since joining the team two years ago. Now would be a great time to turn that around.

3. Jeff Backus

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    Jeff Backus started off the season on a solid pace. The lifelong Lion had done a good job of limiting his penalties and protecting Stafford from pressure.

    In his past few games however, he's been back to his old ways. Backus has been guilty of some foolish penalties and has gotten beaten off the ball, especially against Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings.

    Life doesn't get easier for Backus with the Lions' upcoming schedule. Detroit still has to play Green Bay twice, Houston, Seattle, Atlanta, plus Minnesota and Chicago again.

    Backus must eliminate senseless penalties and protect Matthew Stafford. Coaches also continue to rave about the progress of rookie Riley Reiff. Backus doesn't want to be replaced and must fight to keep his position at left tackle. 

4. Matthew Stafford

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    What has happened to Matthew Stafford?

    It was clear another 5,000-yard season was unlikely from the Lions' franchise quarterback, but Stafford doesn't look like the same player under center.

    Stafford has thrown for 1,756 yards along with only five touchdowns and six interceptions. Stafford is also only averaging 6.65 yards per completion, ranking 27th in the NFL.

    Detroit's offense has been completely out of sync with Stafford's struggles. This time last year, Calvin Johnson had nine touchdowns. In 2012, Megatron only has one and that touchdown was thrown by Shaun Hill, not Stafford.

    The Lions being No. 1 in dropped passes doesn't make Stafford's job any easier, but Detroit needs better from their on-field leader. The Lions' offense ultimately will go as far as Stafford takes them. If this rate continues for Stafford and the Lions, the postseason is far out of the question. 

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