ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- There's four games left now and for the Detroit Lions, December has meant doom in the past.
For a playoff push, the Lions need that to change. We discuss a playoff run and more in this week's Lions Mailbag, filled with your questions. To ask questions for the Bag, either use #LionsMailbag as a hashtag on Twitter, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow my Facebook page and shoot me a message.
Now let's get to it.
@mikerothstein Do you see things coming together at the right time for a sustained playoff run? #LionsMailbag - Mike Hodges (@Lionsfan1960) December 5, 2014@mikerothstein: Sustained playoff run? Not really. I say that because of this: I'm a firm believer that Detroit could beat any team it faces at Ford Field. But the Lions, barring something unforseen, are unlikely to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They likely are going to have to go to some combination of Philadelphia, Green Bay or Seattle at some point during the playoffs and if that happens, the road ends there. Heck, it might even end in New Orleans if that ends up being a wild-card destination. Detroit's best shot at a playoff run would be winning the NFC North. That means at least one home game. I just don't know if this team will win a playoff game on the road unless it is at Arizona, Dallas or Atlanta.
@mikerothstein w the Lions getting healthier, would you expect them to fair better against GB than they did against ARI & NE? #lionsmailbag - Corey Dorris (@CoreyDorris) December 4, 2014@mikerothstein: Don't know if it has anything to do with health, Corey. The Lions typically struggle in Green Bay, whether it is early in the season, late in the season, the middle of the season, healthy, injured, winning, losing, really any combination you can pick. Detroit hasn't won in Wisconsin since before my teenage years (I'm 34 now) so that should tell you everything you need. This Lions team has talent, for sure, but Green Bay is playing better than any team in the league right now and that goes double in Lambeau. It would take a perfect game for the Lions to win there in Week 17.
@mikerothstein Ziggy was a risk w/ that early pick, but has excelled. Progress/play exceeded where you thought he'd be by now? #LionsMailbag - Joshua Travis (@boomshaka9) December 4, 2014@mikerothstein: He has been much better than I thought he would be. Ansah has become one of the better defensive ends in the league and is showing signs of turning into an elite pass rusher. Yes, Ansah was a first round pick, but he might have been one of the better overall selections of Martin Mayhew's tenure, along with Ndamukong Suh, Willie Young (a seventh-round find in 2010), Larry Warford (a third round pick last year) and Sam Martin (a fifth round pick in 2013). Ansah is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season.
@mikerothstein The Tampa Bay game is the great case for selective rest of players like Reiff, Warford, Suh, Bush, Levy #LionsMailbag - Mitch (@millenium_mitch) November 30, 2014@mikerothstein: No, it isn't. This isn't college, where a team with the record Tampa Bay has (2-10) is a legitimate pushover. The Bucs have some talent -- starting with their receivers and a guy named Gerald McCoy, who is contemporaries with Suh at defensive tackle. And it isn't like the Lions have a playoff spot wrapped up either. Nowhere close to it. So if a guy can play, he needs to play. No question.
Ray from Facebook asks: With all the problems in the Lions' running game, would signing Ray Rice be a good idea? Jim Caldwell worked with Rice while is Baltimore. And if they do sign him, would you believe that they cut Ryan Broyles and trade Reggie Bush in the offseason?
Rothstein: There's a bunch of questions in here so let's unpack them. The first question -- no, the Lions would not be making a good choice if they chose to sign Ray Rice. Furthermore, there has been no indication Detroit would try to, either. Rice averaged 3.1 yards per carry last season for Baltimore. As off as the Lions run game has been, Joique Bell is still averaging 3.5 yards a carry and Reggie Bush, when healthy, 3.6 yards per carry. No need or room for Rice here right now. The second part of that would have no bearing on Rice either way. Ryan Broyles is in a tricky spot right now because there isn't much room for him in this offense barring certain injuries that haven't happened. If TJ Jones shows he is capable, the Lions could look to move away from Broyles after this season. They just aren't using him. As far as Bush, he's an interesting decision in the offseason for Mayhew and the Lions. They restructured his contract earlier this year and that typically signifies a guy is expected to be around for a bit. But he has been hurt most of the year and Theo Riddick has emerged. I think Bush is around unless the Lions need cap room, but he'll be one to watch this offseason.