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Lions are enigma


It is a puzzling franchise.

The Detroit Lions are one of the NFL's old-guard teams. They have a great tradition and reside in one of the most rabid football regions in America. Everything about the Lions should ooze success, but it's not that way.

It is the second-oldest NFL franchise not to have played in a Super Bowl. The Cardinals are the oldest franchise not to have played in the Super Bowl but, of course, the Cardinals started in Chicago and went through St. Louis on their way to Arizona. The Lions have always been in Detroit.

Yeah, we're talking about a very stable franchise. It's owned by the Fords, for goodness sakes. What's not to like about the Lions or their fan base? They should be working on "One for the thumb."

But the last time the Lions won an NFL championship was 1957. Bobby Layne was their quarterback. Alex Karras wasn't ever there, yet.

Since then, the Lions have won three division titles; that's all, nothing else. The Lions have been playing football since 1934 and all they have to show for it is one decade of dominance in the 1950's.

The 4-4 Lions team that will play in Alltel Stadium this Sunday offers hope for the future. The Lions had a great draft this year. Maybe the franchise's fortunes are about to change, but if this is to be the year change begins, it will almost certainly have to include a win in Jacksonville. This is a big game in the Steve Mariucci restoration effort.

The Lions will play in Minnesota and at home against Indianapolis in the two weeks following Sunday's game against the Jaguars. Get the point?

Mariucci will bring a desperate team to Jacksonville this weekend. More than that, he'll bring with him a desperate franchise.

Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Lions:

  1. Rally around Garrard—Jack Del Rio said it best. David Garrard has to have a comfort zone in his first significant action in two seasons.
  1. Run the ball—Del Rio has put the focus sharply on the running game. No more excuses.
  1. Deny big plays—The Lions offense is 31st in the league. It's not a sustained-drive team.
  1. Win turnover battle—Detroit is best in the league in turnover differential at 11. It's what they do best.
  1. Play with energy—The Jaguars are coming off a bye week, they're at home and they have a chance to gain a game on either the Colts or Texans.
  1. Establish an identity—That's what the Jaguars did in the second half of last season. This Sunday begins the second half of this season.
  1. Take a deep breath—That's the smell of November. This is the real football season.
  1. Make a big play—Somewhere, anywhere.
  1. Sack the quarterback—Wouldn't that be nice?
  1. Seize the advantage—The Jaguars will play five of their remaining eight games at home. Win the home games and that might be good enough to make the playoffs.
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