BBAO: Lions energized after bye

We're Black and Blue All Over:

The Detroit Lions return to action this week to host the Washington Redskins. And make no mistake: The Lions are more optimistic following their bye week than at any point in recent years. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and middle linebacker DeAndre Levy are among those set to return from injuries, and even at 1-5 the Lions are only two games behind the NFC North leaders in the loss column.

Defensive lineman Kyle Vanden Bosch noted the Lions need to play better but believes a week of practice during the bye has put them on the right track.

Vanden Bosch (via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News): "There seems to be more parity this year than I can remember. At 1-5, I don't think anybody around here feels like we've been eliminated. ... Now, we have to play a lot better. We have to play the way we are capable of and start cleaning up a lot of things. I think we've taken a big step [during the bye] in cleaning up some of our mistakes and hopefully we are going to stop beating ourselves."

Before the season is over, the Lions will host the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. As we've written before, the road to the NFC North title will go through Detroit, one way or the other.

Continuing around the NFC North: