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The Lions aren't contenders, yet

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The Detroit Lions are no longer the NFL's basement dwellers or doormats, but they've proven the last two weeks they still have a long way to go before they can be crowned serious contenders.

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We're about to find out just how far the Detroit Lions have come from a year ago. Not from an individual talent standpoint, but from a team perspective. These next five weeks will go a long way toward knowing what the makeup of this team really is. They've now lost two games in a row and are facing their first true turbulence of the season. The Lions have managed to hang on by a thread so far this season, winning three games with dramatic fourth-quarter comebacks. But there have been no such heroics the last two weeks.

The real cause for concern for the Lions isn't just that they lost -- 13 other teams managed to do that. No, the real problem lies in how the Lions managed to get embarrassed against the New England Patriots. And fans aren't the only ones ashamed, either. Golden Tate even came out after the game and called the Lions' offense embarrassing, which may have even been kind.

The offense looks lethargic, simple and uninspiring. The Lions' receivers had at least five drops by my count, three of which would have been touchdowns. Matthew Stafford was sacked twice, hit four times and hurried seven times throughout the game. It didn't help that undrafted free agent Cornelius Lucas was forced into his first action of the season at left tackle. Stafford was pressured on 38 percent of his dropbacks on Sunday. He wasn't perfect, but he didn't get much help either. The icing on Stafford's day came on fourth-and-10 late in the game when he slid a yard short of the marker. That play pretty much summed up the Lions' Sunday -- just short.

It was reminiscent of the type of play that got their last coach fired, and if it continues it will seal the fate of their current leader.

The Lions are no longer the league's basement dwellers or doormats, but they've proven the last two weeks they still have a long way to go before they can be crowned serious contenders in the NFC. This is the point in the season where superior teams go on a hot streak heading into the playoffs. Green Bay, New England, Denver, etc. are starting to play their best ball of the season. The Lions look to still be trying to find their identity.

Jim Caldwell needs to help his team get over Sunday's loss and move on to the Chicago Bears. A short week should help ease the pain. There's little time for the team to start feeling bad about themselves, even if they should.