Justin Rogers and John Niyo discuss the Lions’ upcoming game against the Rams and the depressing nature of covering meaningless football in December.
Justin Rogers, The Detroit News

Football Week in Michigan? Well, it went poorly.

That includes the Lions, who had their playoff hopes all but completely vanquished on Thanksgiving and will be playing out the string this December with five games of underwhelming importance.

But honestly, Sunday’s game might be the most interesting watch of the slate, as a legitimate Super Bowl contender comes to Detroit, an exciting franchise we don’t get to see up close very often.

Buckle up.

Here are five things to watch Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams (1 p.m., FOX, WJR 760):

1. Maybe not watch?

There’s holiday decorating and shopping to do. You might sneak a workout in to curtail recent indulgence. Take a nap?

Nothing says you’re obligated to watch the Lions every Sunday, and there’s a lot of Michiganders who do in an unhealthy way each week.

Is this team making your life better? It’s worth thinking about this December as we look forward to an offseason littered with roster needs and into the abyss of a lifetime of Lions’ fandom.

More: View from the other side: Lions vs. Rams

More: Detroit News predictions: Lions vs. Rams

2. Blount force

More cheerfully, how about that LeGarrette Blount on Thanksgiving?

After four weeks of positively dreadful production (16 yards on 21 carries), Blount looked more like the second-effort bruiser the Lions thought they were getting on a one-year deal this season.

Roster evaluations are in full swing, and it’s time to see what exactly Blount has left in the tank.

More: Lions’ Blount hopes to stay hot against shaky Rams run defense

More: As expected, Lions rule out RB Kerryon Johnson against Rams

3. The ones that got away

In typical Lions’ fashion, the Rams likely won’t just win on Sunday, they’ll also be providing reminders of what could have been for longing Lions’ fans.

Former Detroit All-Pro Ndamukong Suh and all-world teammate Aaron Donald are the one-two defensive interior punch the Lions envisioned when they drafted Suh and Nick Fairley in consecutive first rounds.

Plus, many fans and analysts figured Donald would be the pick at No. 10 in 2014 for Detroit, who instead went with tight end Eric Ebron, a selection that has been a gift that keeps on giving for masochistic fans.

More: Lions homecoming bittersweet for Rams’ Ndamukong Suh

4. Play-caller possibilities

It seems like a foregone conclusion that Jim Bob Cooter won’t be coordinating the offense next season.

His replacement will be among the most important offseason decisions for the franchise.

Among the hot coaching names on the carousel will be Shane Waldron, the Rams’ passing-game coordinator. He has a history with Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia, serving most recently as tight ends coach in New England in 2009.

Quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, a former Nebraska starting QB, is also a name to think about if you’re impressed with the Rams’ offense.

Which you will be.

More: Rams assistant seen as coordinator material as heat builds in Detroit

5. Reasons for hope

Maybe you are holding out hope in what Football Outsiders call a half-a-percent chance of the 4-7 Lions still reaching the playoffs.

Sure, let’s roll with that. 

The Rams have not played a game at 1 p.m. EST time yet this year; maybe they aren’t early risers.

And hey, if we’re looking against the spread, the Lions’ record (6-5) is actually better than the Rams’ 4-5-2 mark.

Plus, these Lions seem to only play well this season when their backs are against the wall, in games nobody gives them much of a chance.

Sunday would certainly qualify.

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.


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