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

Charles ClayNov 20 03:02p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) is expected to be a game-time decision for Week 12 because of a knee injury.

Dwayne AllenNov 20 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) missed his second straight day of practice Thursday, Nov. 20, and The Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer would bet on Allen sitting out this weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 20 02:12p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) was not participating during the media-access portion of practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Julius ThomasNov 20 01:32p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Emmanuel SandersNov 20 01:22p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) is not participating in practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Giovani BernardNov 20 01:12p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (clavicle, hip) is participating in practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Reggie BushNov 20 01:02p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) said he is on track to play against the New England Patriots in Week 12. He was not able to play in Week 11 because of the injury.

Josh GordonNov 20 12:32p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is expected to be limited in Week 12 because it will be his first game of the season, and the team does not want [ More ]

Adrian PetersonNov 20 11:52a

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Arian FosterNov 20 09:13a

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) is likely share carries with RB Alfred Blue if he plays in Week 12.

LeGarrette BlountNov 20 08:32a

The New England Patriots signed free-agent RB LeGarrette Blount (Steelers) to a two-year deal for the veteran's minimum plus incentives Thursday, Nov. 20.

Giovani BernardNov 20 01:13a

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Jeremy HillNov 20 01:13a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Jeremy Hill is likely to get a bulk of the carries in Week 12 against the Houston Texans, according to beat writer Geoff Hobson, despite the [ More ]

LeGarrette BlountNov 19 09:33p

Free-agent RB LeGarrette Blount (Steelers) went unclaimed on waivers Wednesday, Nov. 19, and is now an unrestricted free agent available to sign with any club.

Brian LeonardNov 19 09:33p

The New Orleans Saints released RB Brian Leonard Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Jalen SaundersNov 19 09:33p

The New Orleans Saints signed WR Jalen Saunders off the practice squad of the Seattle Seahawks Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Arian FosterNov 19 06:33p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Josh GordonNov 19 06:13p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon (non-injury) practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, Nov. 19. Gordon looked happy and was in great shape, and he caught passes from the quarterbacks [ More ]

Delanie WalkerNov 19 05:33p

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Ben TateNov 19 05:23p

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Dwayne AllenNov 19 05:13p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Joique BellNov 19 05:03p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 19, due to an ankle injury. Bell left game briefly in Week 11 because of his injury.

Jerick McKinnonNov 19 04:43p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Matt AsiataNov 19 04:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Matt Asiata (concussion) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Ben TateNov 19 04:23p

Free-agent RB Ben Tate (Browns) was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 19 02:43p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) will not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 19, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Emmanuel SandersNov 19 01:43p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) is not participating in practice Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Julius ThomasNov 19 01:43p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) is not participating in practice Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Jordan CameronNov 19 01:13p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) is still in the concussion protocol and will not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Giovani BernardNov 19 01:03p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip) is participating in practice Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Ben TateNov 18 11:13p

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Troy NiklasNov 18 10:33p

Arizona Cardinals TE Troy Niklas (ankle) needs ankle surgery after re-injuring himself in the Week 11 game against the Detroit Lions, head coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday, Nov. 18.

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