1:00 PM ET, December 28, 2008
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
The plan is simple for the Detroit Lions -- if they can somehow find a way to end one lengthy skid, they will avoid extending another that would cap one of the worst seasons by any franchise in professional sports.
The winless Lions must beat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field for the first time since 1991 to avoid becoming the first NFL team to finish 0-16.
For the beleaguered Lions, a win in their season finale would match the 1980 New Orleans Saints and the 2007 Miami Dolphins for the poorest record since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule three decades ago. Finishing winless, however, would put Detroit on a historical level in the modern era for futility.
The Washington Capitals posted the worst single-season record in NHL history by going 8-67-5 as an expansion team in 1974-75. The Philadelphia 76ers were 9-73 in 1972-73, still the worst mark by an NBA team more than 35 years later.
The expansion 1962 New York Mets went 40-120, a record threatened five years ago by the 43-119 Detroit Tigers.
Unlike the Lions, those teams were able to enjoy the rare victory.
"I don't think anybody wants to be associated with that," center Dominic Raiola told the Lions' official Web site. "You don't want to say that; 'Yeah, I was on that team.' ... One-and-15 is still not good anyway, but better than 0-16."
Quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who will start against the Packers, came up with several reasons for Detroit's ineptitude.
"We haven't played good football at times; we haven't finished games at times; we've been out-executed; we haven't shown up; we've fought our tails off and got some bad calls. It's been a combination of a lot of things," said Orlovsky, who was 10-of-23 for 125 yards with two interceptions before being benched last Sunday in a 42-7 loss to New Orleans.
Despite a 10-37 record, coach Rod Marinelli has been steadfast in supporting his team. But this past week, he finally appeared to show some emotion. After the loss to the Saints, Detroit News columnist Rob Parker asked Marinelli if he wished his daughter married a better defensive coordinator, a verbal swipe at Joe Barry.
Marinelli, a war veteran, didn't respond immediately but on Monday said, "There was intent to maybe stir me up, which is never going to happen. I can shoulder anything you bring -- easy."
Though Parker said his question was meant to be light-hearted and later issued an apology, the Lions' defense has been abysmal in 2008. They are last in the league in points allowed (32.1), rushing yards (169.5) and total yards (399.1) per game while recording an NFL-low four interceptions.
Lions defensive tackle Shaun Cody praised his coach, who likely will be fired after three seasons.
"I think we preach the word of Rod right now because Rod is a strong man with a strong will," Cody said. "There's no quit in him at all, and I think that's just an example of how he never gives up, never quits. That's what this team, I think, exemplifies.
I know we haven't got the job done as far as record, as far as playing good football. But the way we don't quit -- that's all part of Rod and how he coaches. We've been trying to get a win for Rod for a long time. He deserves a win. This whole team deserves a win."
But things will not get any easier heading into Green Bay. The Lions' 16-game slide there is the second-longest active road losing streak, eclipsed only by their 18-game skid in Washington dating back to 1939.
Meanwhile, the start of the post-Brett Favre-era has resulted in the Packers (5-10) failing to make the playoffs after coming withing one game of reaching the Super Bowl last season.
"It's disappointing. It's tough. It's frustrating," said Aaron Rodgers, Favre's replacement, following Green Bay's fifth consecutive loss, a 20-17 overtime defeat to Chicago on Monday night.
Green Bay hasn't lost six straight in one season since a seven-game slide from Oct. 23-Dec. 4, 1988, a run that included two defeats against Detroit.
The inability to close out opponents has plagued the Packers all season. Coach Mike McCarthy's team has lost once by one point, three by three points and two by four points,
"It's obviously frustrating," linebacker Brady Poppinga said. "All of these losses have torn our hearts out. It just hasn't worked out for us. It hasn't really happened for us."
There's been no such frustration when facing the Lions. Green Bay has almost doubled Detroit's scoring output during the home winning streak, and has recorded at least 300 total yards in 10 straight games.
The Packers ripped the Lions 48-25 on Sept. 14 in Detroit. Rodgers passed for 328 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and Greg Jennings had six catches for 167 yards.
Calvin Johnson caught six passes for 129 yards and two scores in the loss. Johnson has had a receiving touchdown in five straight road games.
More from ESPN.com
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The Packers' Randall Cobb doesn't think he's done enough for a new contract.
Suh: Contract uncertainty not a distraction
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The Green Bay Packers have signed star wide receiver Jordy Nelson to a four-year, $39 million contract extension, a league source confirmed to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Source: Lions not optimistic on new Suh deal
Detroit Lions concerned over getting deal done with Ndamukong Suh before training camp.
Divisional rivalry gives Lions one last chance to avoid worst season in history
These teams are playing for pride more than anything else. The Lions and Packers know each other very well, and no one wants to lose to a divisional rival. The players are also playing for a job for next year, as the coaching staffs will be looking at the individuals to see how they fit into the plans for the future. The Lions would love to avoid becoming the first team ever to go 0-16, while the Packers certainly don't want to be the only team to lose to the Lions this year.
Recent Blog Posts
|Avg Points Allowed||32.3||23.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DET|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DET|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Green Bay leads 14-2|
|Sep 14, 2008||DET 25, GB 48|
|Dec 30, 2007||DET 13, @GB 34|
|Nov 22, 2007||DET 26, GB 37|
|Dec 17, 2006||DET 9, @GB 17|
|Sep 24, 2006||DET 24, GB 31|
|Dec 11, 2005||DET 13, @GB 16|
|Sep 11, 2005||DET 17, GB 3|
|Dec 12, 2004||DET 13, @GB 16|
|Oct 17, 2004||DET 10, GB 38|
|Nov 27, 2003||DET 22, GB 14|
|Sep 14, 2003||DET 6, @GB 31|
|Nov 10, 2002||DET 14, @GB 40|
|Sep 22, 2002||DET 31, GB 37|
|Nov 22, 2001||DET 27, GB 29|
|Sep 9, 2001||DET 6, @GB 28|