Lions visit Bears looking for playoff spot
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- All Ndamukong Suh wanted to do was live in the moment and not focus on the big goals that are in reach for the Lions.
Detroit is one win from a playoff berth heading into Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, and a division title and first-round bye are also a possibility.
"I think you just have to understand that when you take care of the small things, the big things come," Suh said. "I've always been about a person that is focused on what I need to get done, the process and understanding that and knowing that everything else should come.
"When the opportunities are presented to you, you just take them with open arms and run with them. So, as long as you take care of the process and understand what you need to get done, usually everything falls in order for you."
Everything has been falling into place for the Lions (10-4), with three straight wins, and they're about to face a team that's reeling.
Things are so bad for the Bears (5-9) that they announced a quarterback change, with Jay Cutler benched in favor of Jimmy Clausen.
Detroit, on the other hand, has a chance to lock up a playoff spot for just the second time in 15 years.
Even if the Lions don't win Sunday's game, they could reach the playoffs with some help. A tie coupled with Philadelphia losing to or tying Washington on Saturday or an Eagles loss would do the trick.
The NFC North title, the Lions' first division crown since 1993, would happen if they beat the Bears and Green Bay loses to Tampa Bay.
And a victory combined with losses by Green Bay and Dallas would lock up a first-round bye for Detroit.
These are big steps even if nine of the Lions' 10 wins are against teams that are currently .500 or below.
Detroit had posted back-to-back losing records after making the playoffs in 2011 and has an 0-16 season (2008) in its not-too-distant past.
"We don't talk about it, just like I'm not answering that question," coach Jim Caldwell said. "We keep our focus and move on."
For the Bears it has been a bitter season. And it will end with them out of the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years.
"It wasn't what I expected," said defensive end Jared Allen, who signed with Chicago before the season. "You know, I didn't see it coming at all. But that's why the NFL is so great. You've got to play the games."
Here are some things to look for in this game:
CUT OUT: The Bears added some intrigue, at least from the Chicago perspective, with the decision to switch quarterbacks.
It comes on the heels of what might have been Cutler's worst performance of the season. He was 17 of 31 for 194 yards with three interceptions and was sacked a season-high seven times in a 31-15 loss to New Orleans on Monday night.
He leads the league in interceptions (18) and turnovers (24), yet the timing of the move was curious at best. It only underscored the idea that Halas Hall is one dysfunctional place at the moment and fueled more speculation about the futures of general manager Phil Emery, Marc Trestman, his assistants, Cutler and everyone else.
FEEDING FRENZY: If Clausen feels as if he's being thrown to the Lions, well, who could blame him?
After all, he is 1-9 in 10 career starts, and all of them came as a rookie with Carolina in 2010. He has attempted just nine passes this season, completing three, and he will be facing one of the league's stingiest defenses on Sunday.
The Lions have allowed the fewest points in the NFL, and they have at least one interception in 11 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL.
CLOSE CALLS: Considering they are giving up the fewest points and Chicago is allowing more than any other team, the Lions might not have to sweat this one out.
Five of their 10 wins are by seven points or fewer.
The Lions have wiped out some early deficits, rallying from down 21-0 against Atlanta and posting 14-point comebacks in wins over New Orleans and Minnesota last week. Detroit also rallied for a 34-17 victory over Chicago on Thanksgiving after falling behind 14-3 in the first quarter and finished with a season-high 474 yards in that game.
MEGA PROBLEM: The Bears had no answer last month for Calvin Johnson, who had 146 yards and two touchdowns. That gave him 1,074 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games against Chicago.
He comes into Sunday's game poised to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the fifth straight year with 935 yards.
STOPPING STAFFORD: Johnson isn't the only Lion on the verge of a milestone. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is about to hit the 4,000-yard passing mark for the fourth straight year.
He is 203 yards shy with 3,797 on the season. He also threw for 390 yards and two touchdowns and had a 116 rating for the game last month against Chicago.
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