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Assessing the Importance of Sunday's Game

Heading out of the bye week and into Week 7, we reach a crucial point in the season for the Lions. Being 3-2, Sunday's game against Tampa Bay could really make or break the season.  I know, I know, things like this are said every week as it normally always is true, but for this week it is especially true.

With a win over the Buccaneers, Detroit would improve to 4-2.  Not only would the Lions be able to say 2007 was better than 2006 already, but it would put Detroit in good shape for the rest of the year.  Anything could happen obviously and a win still could mean nothing if the Lions lost 10 games after, but still, for the fans' minds sake, it would be a good thing.  With the confidence of a 4-2 record, though, Detroit could take that momentum into a huge divisional game against Chicago in Week 8.

Don't start calling me crazy for saying this, but depending on how these next few weeks go, Detroit might actually have a shot to contend for the NFC North title.  Ok, deep breath.  I did just say the Lions have a shot at the playoffs, didn't I?  Well, that's one of the advantages of playing in a weak division.  Although the Packers are 5-1 and have looked great this season, a few losses here and there could shake up the standings quickly.  

Going through the NFC North currently reveals a strange last place team.  The Bears are a dismal 2-4 and look to be hanging on by only a thread.  After getting beat in a very disappointing way against Minnesota, they need to get going quickly to stay alive in the title hunt.  Moving up to third place in the division, the Vikings improved to 2-3 after that win over Chicago.  I'll just say it now, Calvin Johnson won't win offensive rookie of the year.  Adrian Peterson has that award locked up right now after an amazing performance.  Peterson rushed for 3 touchdowns, over 200 yards, and even set up the game-winning field goal with a big kick return.  He is carrying a Vikings team that could be a sleeper as the season goes on.

As we reach the 2nd place team in the NFC North, our Detroit Lions, we see that first place could be within a single game if a win is achieved on Sunday.  The 1st place Packers are on a bye, meaning Detroit can make up half a game this weekend with a victory.  Speaking of the Packers, what a surprise they have been.  5-1?  Green Bay?  Well, when you go back and look at their lone loss this season, that record easily could be 6-0 had they not blown a lead against Chicago.  As the season goes on, the question will be if that stingy defense can play great week in and week out as they have done already in 2007, and also if Brett Favre can keep his play at a good enough level to win.  That one loss was partially due to a dumb interception by Favre, so limiting those types of plays will be crucial for the Packers' success.

I wouldn't necessary call the NFC North wide open at this point since there are so many question marks with each team.  I guess that reason alone could make it wide open, but give it a few more weeks and we'll have a better idea of where this division stands.

Getting back to the original topic of this post - what a win on Sunday would mean for Detroit - let's now just quickly look at what a loss would do to the Lions.  Dropping down to 3-3 would be a blow to the overall morale of the team.  In my opinion, a loss, depending if it's another blowout or a close game, could be devastating to the season.  With a win, as I mentioned earlier, it keeps Detroit right up there in the NFC North title hunt.  A loss, though, and Minnesota and even Chicago could be right there to overtake the Lions quickly.  Before you know it the Lions could potentially be back at the bottom, so wins now are huge in the long run of 2007.

When all is said and done on Sunday - win or lose - I just hope Detroit puts up a good fight.  The two losses we've seen earlier this year were just completely embarrassing, so a hard fought game is something that will satisfy me enough if it does end in a loss. Don't get me wrong, I want to see a win just as much as everyone, but simply showing some fight and improvement will help me feel better about the rest of this season as a whole.