How Legitimate Is the Detroit Lions Playoff Shot?

Eric VincentCorrespondent INovember 6, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 04:  Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions attempts a pass during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 4, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are one of the more difficult teams to figure out in the NFL.

After numerous weeks of inconsistency, the Lions put together a complete performance Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville came in as one of the easiest foes on the Lions' schedule, and Detroit treated them as such. The Lions escaped Week 9 with a 31-14 blowout victory.

Detroit is now coming off a grind out win against the Seattle Seahawks and a blowout in Jacksonville. This wave of momentum can't come at a better time with a brutal second half of the schedule coming.

Head coach Jim Schwartz usually doesn't look past the next week, but it's hard to ignore the grueling games after their road match at Minnesota. 

The Lions still face the Green Bay Packers twice, the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving, the surging Chicago Bears, the surprising Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts plus the undefeated Atlanta Falcons

Detroit has proved they can keep pace with anybody, considering they haven't lost by a larger gap of eight points. However, the Lions are yet to prove they can beat an elite opponent.

With plenty of elite foes coming, it raises suspicion on how legit the Lions are. Also, whether the postseason is still a realistic goal for this team.

The majority of Detroit's issues' this year root within their own team. The Lions, time and time again, take themselves out of victories with penalties, mental mistakes and the inability to adjust throughout games. Undisciplined football has somehow kept the Lions in games, but it won't propel them over elite opponents.

The Lions have shown they can hang with any team, but what have they shown that gives them the benefit of the doubt over elite opponents?

Is an inconsistent defensive line trustworthy enough to believe they can pressure Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan? Is it possible? Of course. But who would you put your money on?

Has Matthew Stafford finally proved that he turned the corner this season and can take the Lions to the next step?

Can Detroit's defense and secondary make enough plays to give this team a chance to win?

All of these questions can be answered, but there hasn't been enough proof to buy in. There has been no consistency throughout this season from any of the Lions' three phases. 

The offense can look explosive as it did against Jacksonville, or be stagnant like the Monday night game against Chicago.

The Lions were supposed to be built with a constant offense, but surprisingly the defense has been the answer to Detroit's problems. The defense and Jason Hanson has given the Lions their best chance to win. Are you willing to bet on a injury-plagued defense and a 42-year-old kicker to carry a team to the playoffs?

There are no more Jacksonville-esque games left on the schedule. The Lions will have to earn every victory coming their way. Based on the competition they have to face, it's hard to bet that Lions can trump four of the top-15 defenses in the NFL, along with some of the most potent offensive attacks as well. 

If the Lions are looking to make the playoffs, it won't be from winning the NFC North. The Bears and Packers are proven to be superior and more well-rounded than the Lions. The Vikings aren't a better team than the Lions, but they've been playing at a higher level than Detroit. 

The Lions best shot at a postseason spot is through the wild card. Through an extremely competitive NFC, it won't be an easy task. All things are possible, but the Lions must earn their respect before given any benefit of the doubt.