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The Detroit Lions clinched their first trip to the playoffs in 12 years with their win over the San Diego Chargers on Saturday.
It has been 12 long years with a 0-16 campaign to boot, but only three years after that low point the Detroit Lions are back in the playoffs. Detroit has yet to learn its destination, but it will play on the road at Dallas, New York, New Orleans or San Francisco in the first round of the NFC playoffs on Jan. 7 or 8.
Three of those four games would be a rematch of a regular season game. Detroit defeated Dallas in Dallas, but lost at New Orleans and at home against San Francisco.
Detroit jumped on the San Diego Chargers early in this 38-10 win. They led 24-0 at the half and 31-10 after three quarters. Matthew Stafford threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns in a masterful performance to earn the first postseason berth of his career. Kevin Smith scored a touchdown via a pass and a run.Chris Houston sealed the game up with an interception with less than five minutes to play, sending the Detroit crowd into a frenzy. Cliff Avril then intercepted Philip Rivers and returned it for a touchdown for the game's final points.
Calvin Johnson added 102 yards on four catches with one reception going for a touchdown.
After three quarters, the San Diego Chargers managed to inch back into the game with 10 straight points since the half. With their own playoff hopes dwindling, they even resorted to a little desperation that paid off with three critical points midway through the third quarter after an onside kick. A late Detroit touchdown put the Lions back in front 31-10 after three quarters, however.
San Diego took the opening kickoff of the second half but was unable to do anything with it. They did finally get on the board on their second possession of the half when Malcolm Floyd caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers with 8:43 left to cap a five-play, 57-yard drive.
The Chargers then successfully recovered an onside kick to get the ball right back. They drove an additional 43 yards in 10 plays, but were forced to settle for a 22 yard field goal by Nick Novak.
As the quarter came to a close the Lions drove for another score and Kevin Smith delivered. His six-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds left in the quarter was his second TD of the game and it capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive as an answer to San Diego's two scores.
The Detroit Lions are halfway to a playoff berth. Needing a win to clinch the postseason for the first time in 12 years, the Lions are dominating at home with a 24-0 lead over the San Diego Chargers at halftime. Matthew Stafford has thrown for 260 yards on 21-of-26 passing and has three touchdowns to vault Detroit out in front on Christmas Eve.
Detroit's second touchdown came on a short touchdown pass to running back Kevin Smith. Smith caught a three yard scoring pass with 7:16 left in the half to cap an 11-play, 87-yard drive. Smith has also rushed for 27 yards.
Calvin Johnson caught Stafford's third touchdown pass of the half with 36 seconds left to put Detroit in front 24-0 (see above). His 14-yard touchdown catch gave him 81 yards on just three receptions. Stafford has spread the ball around well with six receivers having at least two receptions so far.
The Detroit Lions are certainly playing like a playoff team so far. Searching their 10th win of the 2011 season and their first playoff berth since 1999, the Lions have taken a 10-0 lead over the San Diego Chargers at Ford Field after just one quarter of play.
Matthew Stafford was 4-of-5 on the first drive of the game for 73 yards and completed it with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Pettigrew. Calvin Johnson's 42-yard catch was the highlight of the drive. After getting a defensive stop, the Lions found themselves on another drive.
Backed up deep in their own territory, Detroit drove 65 yards in 13 plays to finish the first quarter with a 50-yard field goal by Jason Hanson. Hanson is the only holdover on the Lions' roster from the last time they made the playoffs.
Pettigrew already has four catches for 22 yards and a touchdown.
The Lions and Chargers are underway at Ford Field, but things got a little chippy in the early going. As the teams were in the tunnel before the game some minor pushing and shoving broke out between the two. Both teams quickly got things under control:
Detroit is already out to a 7-0 lead thanks to an excellent opening drive. The Lions went 74 yards in nine plays before Matthew Stafford found Brandon Pettigrew for a seven-yard touchdown catch. Stafford was 4-of-5 on the drive for 73 yards and also had a three-yard rush as Detroit got it done mostly through the air. Calvin Johnson had a 46-yard reception to help set up the go-ahead touchdown.
Pettigrew had two catches for 17 yards on the drive, with one of them, of course, going for the touchdown. Nate Burleson also already has two catches for 15 yards as the Lions are driving once again.
The San Diego Chargers are fighting for their playoff lives on Saturday as they take on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Detroit is also hoping for the playoffs, and a win for them would secure a wild card berth, while the Chargers are still fighting for the tumultuous AFC West division. The gameday inactives just came out for both teams, and you can find the Lions' inactives here, while the Chargers inactives will be below.
Of particular note is the fact that wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who has been questionable leading up to this game with a groin injury, will be starting for San Diego. He's been banged up this season, but hasn't yet missed a game, which means Phillip Rivers will have him along with Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd. The actual inactives are below, and there's no surprises.
The Detroit Lions are set to take on the San Diego Chargers, hoping to get a win and secure a spot in the 2012 NFL Playoffs. They need just one win in the final two weeks to secure a spot, and with next week's game being against the division rival Green Bay Packers, which should be very tough. The game is set for 4:00 p.m. eastern and we've got the Lions inactives for the game.
Of particular note is safety Louis Delmas, who worked a little this week, and there was a small chance he'd be able to be active. Instead, he'll miss his fourth-straight week against the Chargers at home, and Chris Harris will start in his place. Further repleting the secondary is the absence of Aaron Berry and Don Carey, who have a separated right shoulder and concussion, respectively.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson came up big last week for fantasy football owners trying to make their league's Super Bowl, simply making himself impossible to cover for the Oakland Raiders while displaying some late-game heroics to push the Lions to a come-from-behind win on the road.
Well, the Lions remain on the road this week when they play at the San Diego Chargers in an important game for both teams, not to mention Johnson's fantasy owners looking to win a league championship. Last week Johnson caught nine balls for 214 yards and two touchdowns which will be tough to duplicate this week against a better pass defense in the Chargers, the NFL's sixth ranked pass defense.
According to the numberFire projection, Johnson will have a more pedestrian day on the field as he's expected to finish with 6.52 receptions for 85.41 yards and 0.58 TDs. Those numbers actually bode well for fantasy owners. If Johnson does catch at least six or seven passes his yardage numbers will likely exceed those projected here and the Lions will be in better shape for a playoff-clinching win.
The Detroit Lions will have the spotlight on them when they visit the San Diego Chargers on Sunday afternoon. The game will be televised nationally on CBS while the Lions try to secure a playoff spot against a resurgent Chargers team looking to win their fourth straight game and remain in the race to win the AFC West.
The game this week is equally huge for fantasy owners of Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford who may be playing in their fantasy Super Bowl. Stafford has turned in some solid fantasy performances of late, using all 60 minutes of game time to produce some big numbers. Last week, he engineered a late rally, leaning on receiver Calvin Johnson, by throwing the ball 52 times for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns.
This week things should be more challenging for Stafford as he tries to throw against the NFL's 6th ranked pass defense. The numberFire projections reflect that as well, expecting a pretty conservative stat line from Stafford against the Chargers. According to the projection, Stafford will complete 18.95 of 31.21 passes for 229.12 yards with 1.65 TDs and 0.59 interceptions.
Unless the Lions are controlling the game on the ground, those numbers might be bad news for fantasy owners and Detroit fans hoping for a playoff-clinching win.
The Detroit Lions have been all about comebacks this year, with quarterback Matthew Stafford orchestrating one seemingly every time the team has won a game. That could lead to something of dividing-by-zero proportions, as Phillip Rivers has always been known as a clutch quarterback who can win games in the closing minutes. While the San Diego Chargers' franchise quarterback hasn't been as good at that this year, the essence of being clutch is one's ability to come back from anything, including a season of ... not being clutch.
For Detroit, the game holds special significance because they can punch their ticket into the playoffs with a win. They need one win over their next two games to be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, but face two very tough games. After this, they take on the Green Bay Packers, who have only lost one game this season, so Detroit's best chances may be to beat the Chargers.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, Dec. 24, 4:05 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
TV Schedule: CBS (TV Distribution Map)
TV Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket (WXYT-FM)
The San Diego Chargers will face the Detroit Lions this weekend, a team that isn't nearly as injury-riddled as it has been in recent weeks. The Chargers are in even better shape, however, as they listed just four players on the injury report heading into the weekend's holiday slate of games.
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson and defensive tackle Antonio Garay are both questionable while linebackers Travis Laboy and Donald Butler were given the probably destination. The most important player on the list is Jackson and, according to a report from Sign On San Diego, the initial diagnosis isn't a good one.
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson's groin has not responded as well as the Chargers hoped or believed it would, and there is mounting concern he will miss Saturday's game against the Lions.
Despite hamstring and abdomen injuries earlier this season, Jackson has yet to miss a game this season. But if he doesn't play Saturday, his absence would be just the latest for a Chargers receiver this season and would halt the longest stretch in which the team's "big three" have played together in 2011 -- and, really, since 2009.
It'll be interesting to see what happens come Saturday evening -- and not just to see if Santa makes it down the chimney.
The Detroit Pistons injury report has been a rather scary affair the past few weeks as fans watch to see which of the team's important players are designated as out, but this week's game isn't quite as bad. There are quite a few players still listed on the injury report, but the majority are likely to play after being given the "probable" tag.
Kevin Smith is listed as probable after being listed as a bit of everything for the past few games, meaning the Lions will likely have the starting lineup fully healthy by Saturday afternoon after going through a full week of practices. Smith is one of eleven players listed as probable on Friday's report.
Nobody is listed as out, but safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Aaron Berry are both listed as doubtful with knee and shoulder injuries respectively. Defensive tackles Corey Williams and Nick Fairley aren't guaranteed to play, either, due to hip and foot injuries hampering the interior linemen.
The San Diego Chargers injury report will follow shortly.
The Detroit Lions face some very simple math when it comes to their playoff destiny: win and they are in. To do so, they have to beat a team this week that is also in the playoff hunt. The San Diego Chargers are a game behind Denver in the AFC West, and they need a win to stay alive. In what is expected to be a tight game, the Lions are a slim 1.5 point favorite according to SB Nation's odds partner Oddsshark:
The San Diego Chargers have faced Detroit six times in the past 30 years and never lost, but it's the Lions who are favored on the Week 16 NFL odds menu at most online sportsbooks. The Chargers are making their perennial second-half push where they are 18-2 SU in their past 20 December games dating back to 2007, but they may have left it too late.
The Chargers do not control their own destiny for the postseason, and that can benefit the Lions. A sellout crowd could also be very beneficial int he final home game of the year for Detroit.
The Detroit Lions are making some roster moves in advance of Saturday's game against the San Diego Chargers. Dealing with some major injuries in their secondary, the Lions re-signed corner Brandon McDonald, who has already played in 11 games for the Lions this season, with 17 tackles and a pass defensed. He was released on Dec. 9 when the Lions needed more depth on their defensive line and signed Jovan Haye.
To make room for McDonald, the team released defensive end Keyunta Dawson, who is no longer needed as Ndamukong Suh has returned from a suspension, while guys like Lawrence Jackson and Nick Fairley get healthy enough to play.
McDonald joins a Lions secondary that is very depleted, with its best player, Louis Delmas, out of action since Thanksgiving with a knee injury and starting corner Chris Houston leaving Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders with a knee injury.
On top of that, Aaron Berry could miss another game, though he does appear close to coming back as his separated right shoulder is healing up. Yet another corner, Don Carey, could miss the game with a concussion after suffering it against Oakland on Sunday. He hasn't practiced yet this week.
The Detroit Lions are on the brink of their first playoff berth in over a decade. To get there, they need a win over a potent San Diego team that has one of the league's best offenses, especially in the month of December. SB Nation's Pride of Detroit has published an extensive preview of the Chargers' offense in advance of Saturday's critical game at Ford Field:
Much like the Lions, the Chargers are very much reliant on their quarterback, Philip Rivers. Pretty much, how he goes, so does the Chargers offense. It should, then, come as no surprise that both Rivers and the Chargers were dipping and are peaking at the same times. Before their current three-game winning streak, the Chargers had dropped six straight games and were basically left for dead in the AFC West. Over that span, Rivers had a pretty mediocre passer rating of 75.0, while his team was only putting up 21.5 points per contest. On the flip side of things, Rivers has an astounding average quarterback rating of 132.2 during their current winning streak.
San Diego is also fighting for its playoff life, and the Chargers likely need this game more than the Lions. Detroit has a large cushion in terms of a two game lead with two to play, so they can still get in if enough teams lose behind them. San Diego still needs to win and get some help in the final weeks of the season to reach the playoffs. They trail by a game in the AFC West and a wild card berth is unlikely at this point.
The Detroit Lions may be slightly shorthanded as the try to clinch a playoff berth on Christmas Eve at home against the San Diego Chargers. The Lions' first injury report of the week is out and it is riddled with DNPs. A total of seven players did not participate in practice on Wednesday:
|Detroit Lions Week 16 Injury Report|
|DE||Kyle Vanden Bosch||Neck||DNP|
Among the notable players that did participate was running back Kevin Smith. Smith missed the game two weeks ago against Minnesota, but was able to return last week against Oakland to help the Detroit running game. Defensive End Kyle Vanden Bosch was limited with a neck injury and did not participate, which could cut into Detroit's pass rush against Philip Rivers. Starters Nick Fairley and Louis Delmas did not participate, either.
Going for their 10th win of the season and hoping to solidify a trip to the NFL playoffs, the Detroit Lions are in a much better place heading into Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers than most thought they'd be. Another sign of their recent success is the fact that the team has once again reached a sellout:
Lions reach sellout but there are return tickets from San Diego and club seats still available for purchase. That's 13 in a row for Lions
The 13 in a row is referring, of course, to the number of sellouts. They've sold out every home game at Ford Field this season, and managed to sell out seven of eight last season, despite the team not having necessarily the same amount of hope of being good as this year. That being said, the Lions have had some great young play-makers, and they're a big part of the reason for the sellouts. In a city that's struggling as much as the team has in the recent past, it's definitely a good sign to see a sellout this early.
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