Even after an uninspired loss to the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving Day, the Detroit Lions would have taken an 8-3 record going into December if you offered them that heading into the season. But the issues over the last two or three games since the bye, from turnovers to across the board struggles defensively, are set to bite them in the playoffs when/if they get there.
Some extra time before playing the New Orleans Saints in Week 13 should be broadly helpful to the Lions as they prepare and reset for the final six games. They just played three games over a 12-day span, as they always do around the Thanksgiving game, but these last three games have been down to the wire and a mix of exciting and draining.
The sky is not falling for the Lions, but they do need to find fixes for some key things. With the trade deadline passed, the players they have are the players they'll have for the rest of the season, for better or worse. Bruce Irvin should make his Lions' debut against the Saints, however notable an addition he'll prove to be for a lagging pass rush at this point in his career.
The mini-bye week, well-timed as it may be even though the actual bye just happened a few weeks ago, is another evaluation point for the Lions' coaches. Who should be playing more, or playing less? Are there players who might perform better in a different role, or deployed in a different way? That's not to say every decision in those regards will prove to be right, but some little shakeups could be in order as they try to lock down a divisional title.
After the dismal loss to the Packers, these three Lions players have a strong case for being benched.