2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Alone in first, Lions choosing words carefully

By NOAH TRISTER - AP Sports Writer
    2013-11-11 15:01

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) - NFL coaches always seem keenly aware of the worst-case scenario, so it was no surprise when Detroit's Jim Schwartz brushed off any talk of his team's position in the standings.

The Lions won at Chicago on Sunday to take over sole possession of first place in the NFC North. With a favorable-looking schedule and generally good health, Detroit has a chance to win its first division title since the 1993 season - but there's still a lot of football to be played.

''We've got six wins,'' Schwartz said Monday. ''That's not going to be enough.''

For now, it's more than any other team in the division. Detroit (6-3) held on for a 21-19 win to complete its first regular-season sweep of the Bears since 2007. Chicago and Green Bay are a game behind the Lions, and the Packers are dealing with injuries to quarterback Aaron Rodgers and backup Seneca Wallace.

When asked about the possibility of hosting a playoff game or earning a first-round bye, Schwartz was having none of that discussion.

''Good try,'' he said. ''We've got way too far to go to start talking about stuff like that. ... I know it's exciting for fans of our team and people around the league and things like that, but honestly I think you get sidetracked by starting to get ahead of yourself as a team. We want to guard against that.''

This is the latest in the season the Lions have been in sole possession of first place since they led the NFC Central after Week 10 in 1999, according to STATS. Detroit was 6-3 at that point, too, then stumbled down the stretch, barely making the playoffs as a wild card at 8-8.

The fine line between winning and losing was obvious Sunday. Detroit allowed a touchdown with 40 seconds left, then stopped a pair of 2-point conversion attempts. Chicago got two chances because of a penalty on the first one.

Toward the end of the second quarter, the Bears came away with no points after driving all the way to the 4-yard line. Jay Cutler's pass was tipped by Ndamukong Suh and intercepted by DeAndre Levy in the end zone.

''It was a great win, no question about it, but you've got to make it count,'' quarterback Matthew Stafford said. ''We have to make this one count later down the road and it starts next week. We have a new opponent that we don't play every week and that team is dangerous.''

The Lions play at Pittsburgh next weekend.

Detroit made a few mistakes against the Bears that could have been costly. Stafford had an interception returned deep into Lions territory in the fourth quarter, but Chicago had to settle for a field goal. The Bears twice appeared to have reached the end zone, but the first touchdown was called back for holding and the second was turned into an incomplete pass by a replay review.

When the Bears drove for their final touchdown to pull within two, they were helped by an unnecessary roughness call on Detroit defensive lineman Nick Fairley - but Fairley came back with a sack on the next play.

''It's a long season to get through. There's a lot of things that you've got to persevere through,'' Schwartz said. ''Praise - and success - is one of those things. Quite honestly, that's something that in the past we haven't done a good job of.''

The Lions made the playoffs two seasons ago, then collapsed last year en route to a 4-12 record. They've put themselves in position to take another big step forward over the next few weeks.

Only one of the remaining seven games on Detroit's schedule - the Thanksgiving matchup with Green Bay - is against a team that currently has a winning record.

So the Lions are in an unfamiliar position: They've played well, caught a few breaks - and now their biggest concern may be how well they handle success.

''Being successful in this league is dealing with adversity and bouncing back, but it's increasingly becoming part of the scope of the NFL to deal with praise and to deal with the accolades and things like that,'' Schwartz said. ''It makes it difficult to stay level headed. It makes it difficult to stay even keeled throughout the course of a season.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Brandon BrownerOct 30 04:32p

New England Patriots DT Alan Branch (non-injury related) and DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Nate Ebner (finger), DL Dominique Easley (knee), OL Cameron [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonOct 30 04:22p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring), LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and OG Kevin Zeitler (calf) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DT Domata Peko (toe) and OT Andre Smith [ More ]

Dwight FreeneyOct 30 04:22p

San Diego Chargers LB Manti Te'o (foot), CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) and S Jahleel Addae (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) was limited. CB [ More ]

Donald BrownOct 30 04:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) practiced fully Thursday, Oct. 30.

Terrell SuggsOct 30 04:02p

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (foot) and LB Terrell Suggs (neck) all did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Marshal Yanda (knee) [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 30 03:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) and SS Ross Ventrone (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and FS [ More ]

Bruce CarterOct 30 03:22p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (finger) suffered a broken ring finger during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, but expects to play in Week 9. He will wear a splint on his finger for protection.

Cullen JenkinsOct 30 03:12p

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring) and P Steve Weatherford (ankle) were both limited in practice.

Brandon BoykinOct 30 03:12p

Philadelphia Eagles FS Nate Allen (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. TE Brent Celek (back) and WR Brad Smith (groin) were both limited in practice. CB [ More ]

D'Qwell JacksonOct 30 03:12p

Indianapolis Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson (toe), DT Arthur Jones (ankle), LB Erik Walden (quadriceps) and LB Josh McNary (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Vontae [ More ]

Rashad JenningsOct 30 02:42p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) said he is on track in terms of his rehab, but there is no timetable for his return. Jennings said he has [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 02:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Anthony CollinsOct 30 02:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Oniel Cousins is working at left tackle with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, because OT Anthony Collins (foot) is sitting out practice.

Doug MartinOct 30 02:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Jason VerrettOct 30 01:52p

San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) is expected to miss two to three weeks with a torn labrum, according to two sources.

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 30 01:52p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will start the team's Week 9 game against the New Orleans Saints Thursday, Oct. 30, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 01:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) received most of the work with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, and will start in Week 9 if he [ More ]

Jaylen WatkinsOct 30 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles SS Earl Wolff, FS Chris Maragos and CB Jaylen Watkins could be options to start at safety if FS Nate Allen (hamstring) is not able to play in Week 9.

Giovani BernardOct 30 01:22p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 01:02p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) didn't take part in the walk-through Thursday, Oct. 30, and will not practice with the team. However, head coach Jason Garrett remains hopeful [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Reggie WayneOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 12:22p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo's (back) status is making head coach Jason Garrett feel optimistic about his availability for Week 9.

Dallas ThomasOct 30 11:43a

Miami Dolphins OG Dallas Thomas would be the most likely candidate to start at left guard if OG Daryn Colledge (illness) is not able to play in Week 9.

Rashad JenningsOct 30 11:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) has been ruled out for Week 9.

Phil BatesOct 30 10:52a

The Cleveland Browns signed free-agent WR Phil Bates (Seahawks) to the practice squad and released CB Marcus Cromartie Thursday, Oct. 30.

Charles SimsOct 30 10:13a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims could have 10 or more touches in Week 9, in the opinion of beat writer Greg Auman.

Ryan MathewsOct 30 09:52a

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) is likely to sit out of the Week 9 game and return after the Week 10 bye.

Dennis PittaOct 30 09:52a

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) may never be able to play football again after two surgeries on a fractured and dislocated hip in as many seasons.

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