1:00 PM ET, December 21, 2014
Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
An ability to live for the moment has the Detroit Lions in position to win their first division title in 21 seasons.
Though a potentially important division showdown looms in the regular-season finale, coach Jim Caldwell expects the only focus for his NFC North-leading Lions to be on recording a fourth straight victory Sunday against the reeling Chicago Bears.
With Washington's victory over Philadelphia on Saturday, Detroit (10-4) clinched its second playoff appearance in four seasons even before stepping onto Soldier Field.
A victory over the Bears and a Green Bay loss at Tampa Bay would give Detroit its first division title since 1993.
"It's right there in front of us," defensive end Jason Jones said.
The Lions visit Lambeau Field next weekend, possibly with the division title on the line.
However, Caldwell hasn't allowed his team to look any further than the present. Cliche as it may be, that one-game-at-a-time approach appears to be working for a franchise that fell apart in the second half of the last two seasons.
After splitting their first eight games in 2012, the Lions didn't win again. They started 6-3 last season then lost six of seven.
"It's like texting and driving. You can't have your focus and attention on two things at one time," Caldwell said. "It's no different. Obviously, I'm not talking about the same dire consequences, but I'm talking about an example of distorted vision."
Since totaling only five field goals in consecutive losses on the road against Arizona and New England, the Lions have outscored their last three opponents 84-48 -- beginning with a 34-17 win over the Bears (5-9) on Thanksgiving.
Detroit overcame a 14-3 first-quarter deficit in that contest and a 14-0 hole in last Sunday's 16-14 win over Minnesota.
"It doesn't matter however you get them," safety James Ihedigbo said. "Our mindset is we're going to fight. I think that's sharpening our character as a team and showing our resilience and the ability to fight through adversity."
Detroit allowed the Vikings to gain 193 yards and score two touchdowns on their first four drives, then held them to 167 the rest of the game. The NFL's second-ranked defense gave up 502 yards combined in the previous two games versus Chicago and Tampa Bay.
The Lions haven't allowed more than 17 points in three straight games and five of the last six.
Detroit recorded a season-low 233 total yards against the Vikings, but could be in for a nice bounce back against a Chicago team that's yielded an average of 35.3 points and 438.0 yards during a three-game losing streak.
Matthew Stafford threw for a season-low 153 yards last week but had a season-high 390 with two TDs to Calvin Johnson on Thanksgiving. Johnson, who had 11 catches for 146 yards in that contest, caught six passes for 83 and two scores in last season's 21-19 win that snapped Detroit's five-game slide at Soldier Field.
The Lions haven't won consecutive contests in Chicago since a six-game run from 1968-73, but would appear to be in good shape to end that drought against a franchise in disarray.
While it's already been reported that defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will be fired at the end of the season, recent reports have second-year coach Marc Trestman likely to suffer the same fate. Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer also could be gone after he admitted to the team last week he'd been the anonymous source for a story criticizing Jay Cutler.
"The bottom line is that this is a business based on winning and losing," Trestman said. "We can't sugarcoat it. We are disappointed that we're not playing well enough to win."
While it's uncertain if embattled general manager Phil Emery will be retained, the Bears also are left to decide if Cutler is still the right choice under center despite signing a seven-year deal in January.
Cutler has thrown for 3,640 yards but his 6.9 yards per attempt rank 29th and his 18 interceptions are tied for the second-most of his career. He was picked off three times in Monday's 31-15 home loss to New Orleans.
"Absolutely it's frustrating," he told the Bears' official website. "We're trying to say the same thing different ways after games. You get to a point where you don't have the answer. I think that's where we're at."
He's posted a 70.8 passer rating with five TDs and six picks during the three-game skid to Detroit.
Teammate Alshon Jeffery has six touchdown receptions in the last five games, including two at Detroit. He caught nine balls in that game.
The six rushing yards Detroit held Matt Forte to on five carries last month were the second-fewest of his career. He's averaged 3.3 yards per carry in the last four against the Lions at Soldier Field.
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Recent Blog Posts
|Avg Points Allowed||.9||1.3|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DET|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DET|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Chicago leads 17-11|
|Nov 27, 2014||DET 34, CHI 17|
|Nov 10, 2013||DET 21, @CHI 19|
|Sep 29, 2013||DET 40, CHI 32|
|Dec 30, 2012||DET 24, CHI 26|
|Oct 22, 2012||DET 7, @CHI 13|
|Nov 13, 2011||DET 13, @CHI 37|
|Oct 10, 2011||DET 24, CHI 13|
|Dec 5, 2010||DET 20, CHI 24|
|Sep 12, 2010||DET 14, @CHI 19|
|Jan 3, 2010||DET 23, CHI 37|
|Oct 4, 2009||DET 24, @CHI 48|
|Nov 2, 2008||DET 23, @CHI 27|
|Oct 5, 2008||DET 7, CHI 34|
|Oct 28, 2007||DET 16, @CHI 7|
|Sep 30, 2007||DET 37, CHI 27|
|Dec 24, 2006||DET 21, CHI 26|
|Sep 17, 2006||DET 7, @CHI 34|
|Oct 30, 2005||DET 13, CHI 19|
|Sep 18, 2005||DET 6, @CHI 38|
|Dec 26, 2004||DET 19, CHI 13|
|Sep 12, 2004||DET 20, @CHI 16|
|Nov 9, 2003||DET 12, CHI 10|
|Oct 26, 2003||DET 16, @CHI 24|
|Nov 24, 2002||DET 17, @CHI 20|
|Oct 20, 2002||DET 23, CHI 20|
|Dec 30, 2001||DET 0, CHI 24|
|Dec 2, 2001||DET 10, @CHI 13|
The Lions boast one of the best defenses in the league.[+]
Lions Defense This Season
Since 2010, Jimmy Clausen's rookie season, there are 65 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 300 passes. Clausen's 10.8 Total QBR ranks 65th out of those 65.
Jimmy Clausen had his 1st-career multi-TD game Sunday. Clausen was 15-of-27 for 140 yards with a touchdown and interception targeting wide receivers, an improvement over his last stint as a starter with the Panthers in 2010.[+]
Jimmy Clausen Career as Starting QB Targeting WRs
ESPN Stats & Information