NFL Wire News

Lions must hurdle Bears, Packers


ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions are a game away from clinching a playoff berth, but will have to overcome some of their poor history against the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers to make the postseason.

Sunday, the Lions will try to win a game in Chicago for the second straight year. They haven’t accomplished that feat since 1973, the final of six straight wins in Chicago — three at Wrigley Field, three at Soldier Field. A stretch of five straight wins against the Bears from 1971-73, home and road, was also the last time the Lions won four or more games in a row against Chicago. They’ve won the last three games against the Bears, including a 34-17 win on Thanksgiving.

Granted, with Jimmy Clausen starting over, Jay Cutler and the Bears allowing at least 31 points the past three games, the Lions won’t be facing one of the many great Chicago teams that beat them over the past four decades.

“There’s been historical hurdles here from the jump,” wide receiver Calvin Johnson said. “I don’t know how many we’ve passed since I’ve been here but it seems each year there’s another one. I think that’s just a testament to the hard work that guys are putting in, the focus like we were just talking about, coaching. All that goes hand in hand.”

The Lions have already accomplished several historical feats this year. They are 10-4 for the first time since 1991. With a win over the Vikings last Sunday, they finished 7-1 at home for the first time since 1995. The Lions this year started 7-2, the first time they’ve done that since 1993. Jim Caldwell will finish with a winning record in his first season, the first time a new coach has done that since Bobby Ross in 1997.

The Lions could clinch their first playoff berth since 2011 by Saturday if the Eagles lose in Washington, but they’d prefer to make it on their own terms.

After the game against the Bears, the Lions will travel to Green Bay for a game against the Packers that will likely decide the winner of the NFC North. The Lions haven’t won in Green Bay since 1991.

“It’s not really ever talked about to tell you the truth,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said of the team’s history. “We don’t talk about that kind of stuff. We’re a week-to-week basis team. Going at Chicago is always tough. It’s always a tough place to play. They’re talented, they still have good players and they’re capable of playing extremely well.”

In addition to the lackluster history against the Bears and Packers, the Lions will likely have to overcome the weather in their final two games. They lost 16 straight outdoor games when the starting temperature was 40 degrees or colder, with their last win in 2000.

The forecast for Chicago on Sunday is a high of 39 degrees, and it will surely be colder in Green Bay in Week 17. The Lions practiced outside Wednesday to help them prepare for the cold, and players have preached Caldwell’s message that they have an indoor team with an outdoor mentality.

“I wasn’t here, so I don’t look at the past and make a determination on what’s going to happen in the future,” Caldwell said. “I believe in the guys that we have. We know it’s going to be tough but I think it’s our job to find a way.”

In their 170th regular-season meeting, the Bears lead series 96-68-5. After winning the previous three matchups, the Lions will try to beat the Bears four games in a row for the first time since winning five in a row from 1971-73.

–The Lions placed second-year right tackle LaAdrian Waddle on injured reserve Wednesday after he suffered a left knee injury in last Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings. The team will now rely on undrafted rookie Cornelius Lucas to secure the right side of the line as it prepares for a playoff run.

“I think the game’s starting to slow down for him and he’s doing a really good job,” left tackle Riley Reiff said of Lucas. “I’m excited for him.”

The 6-foot-9, 325-pound Lucas has experience playing right tackle this year in the four games Waddle missed earlier this season, though he split time with veteran Garrett Reynolds. Lucas also finished the game Sunday after a cart took Waddle off the field.

“It’s really exciting,” Lucas said. “There’s a lot going through my mind right now but at the end of the day it’s just football.”

–Free safety Glover Quin was the NFC defensive player of the week after his game-changing interception in the second quarter of the Lions’ 16-14 win over the Vikings. He’s tied with Browns safety Tashaun Gipson for the lead league with six interceptions and said Wednesday he’s one of the top safeties in the NFL this year.

“I feel like I’m a top safety in the league,” he said. “Do I feel like I could do a lot of things that other safeties can’t do? Yeah, I do. Do I feel like I should be in the category or the conversation for top safety in the league? I would say, if you’re talking this year, I would say yeah.”

NOTES: Among those missing practice Wednesday were DT Nick Fairley (knee), DE George Johnson (illness) and DT C. J. Mosley (not injury related). … Those limited in practice included WR Calvin Johnson (ankle), CB Mohammed Seisay (hamstring), LB Ashlee Palmer (quad) and S Don Carey (ankle).

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