The Detroit Lions are in that odd space teams find themselves in during the late stages of the season.
They're out of the playoffs, so the season is over. But there are three more games to play, so it's not over.
The key here will be the Lions holding onto their focus—something which hasn't exactly been their strong point this season. As bad as this five-game losing streak is—and let's be honest, it's pretty bad—the absolute last thing the Lions want is an eight-game skid going into 2013.
The end of a season—bad or good—can easily set the tone for the following year. This season has stunned the Lions, both fans and players alike, I'd wager.
It's easy, once you're reeling and starting to fall down from repeated punches, to completely give yourself over to just dropping.
It takes a lot to get off the mat after a big knockdown.
And yet, that's exactly what the Lions have to find a way to do here. They can't continue to go into a shell and hope next year is better. They need to go forward and continue to fight.
This game against Arizona will be telling because here is a team which might be even worse off than the Lions. Sure, the Lions are dysfunctional on both sides of the ball, but they have a strong front seven (despite injuries), a decent running game and a tremendous quarterback.
The Cardinals have a good defense (although they just had 58 points dropped on their heads) and a wide receiver who is almost as good as Calvin Johnson.
But they have no offensive line, no quarterback, no run game and no idea how to fix any of it.
This is a game the Lions should win.
It's certainly one they can't afford to lose.
They say winning is a habit. Well, unfortunately, the Lions are learning that losing can be too. This week, they need to break that habit.
Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.
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