The Detroit Lions are finishing the 2012 season competing for pride and draft positioning. Week 13 won't be an easy matchup as they seek to end their three-game losing streak. The playoff-hopeful Indianapolis Colts will visit Ford Field Sunday against the Lions.
After costing themselves a key victory on Thanksgiving against the Houston Texans, Sunday will be a good test of Detroit's psyche. Blown opportunities and mental mistakes have been the blame of many losses this season. The Lions could use this game as a good rebound, especially before they go on the road to Lambeau then Phoenix to play the Arizona Cardinals.
The Lions aren't playing better football than the Colts, but on paper they're a better team. Here are three keys that should ensure a Detroit victory this week.
The Lions continue to chalk up yards through the air with the NFL's No. 1 passing game (312 yards per game). Matthew Stafford should find plenty of success against Indy's pass defense, but this would be a great game to continue trying to improve the running game.
The Colts are weak defensively, especially between the tackles against the run. They've allowed an average of 120 yards per game on the ground this season. The offensive line should be able to control the Colts up front.
Mikel Leshoure is a tough runner who continues to find the end zone. He and Joique Bell need a healthy dose of carries throughout the entire game. Unless the Lions get down early, Leshoure and Bell should be used often.
Detroit's defensive line has been far too inconsistent this season with some of their featured players. If there's any week for this unit to wake up and possibly dominate, Week 13 would be it.
The Colts' offensive line has surrendered 26 sacks on quarterback Andrew Luck this season. He's also been hit by defenders 74 times. If Luck scrambles outside the pocket or holds the ball too long, the Lions must make him pay with constant pressure.
Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham likes to blitz and gamble when safety Louis Delmas is in the lineup. If Delmas can manage to stay healthy this game, the entire defense could force turnovers as well as quarterback hits on Luck.
Tackle Nick Fairley has hit a groove these past few weeks. Look for him to continue his success along with Ndamukong Suh against the weak interior of the Colts offensive line.
This slide applies to everyone associated with the Detroit lions—from the players, to the coaches, to the waterboy.
No matter how much talent and potential lies on this roster, it won't take them anywhere without any discipline. The Lions have shot themselves in the foot too many times this season, costing them golden opportunities for victories.
Everybody has to be held accountable. No more overreactions by Jim Schwartz in the heat of the moment. No matter how bad the NFL rule may be, he has to, as a head coach, know the rules and act accordingly.
No more sabotaging or talking back to the coaching staff by Titus Young. Young's disappointing season has been a product of his own attitude. He could be making a case for himself as the No. 2 receiver with veteran Nate Burleson injured for the season. Instead his decision making has left him underachieving and in the backseat behind the emerging rookie Ryan Broyles.
No more dropped passes by Brandon Pettigrew—or any other Lion. That's all that needs to be said on that subject.
It's time for the Lions to grow up and live up to their potential. If they were getting beat just by teams that are better than them, the fans can live with that. But no more of the Lions being their own opponent.