Rod Marinelli's Marine approach hasn't pulled the Lions out of the bunker. Most disappointing is the defense. Brought to Detroit to establish discipline, Marinelli is watching his defense go into freefall after surrendering 106 points in the past three games. The only good news for the Lions is the offense is starting to get the feel for what offensive coordinator Mike Martz wants and is performing much better. That doesn't necessarily mean the Lions will get into a shootout with the Vikings.
Whether they play good teams or bad teams, the Vikings play close games. They have a very good defense that can dominate an offensive line, and the Lions' D-line is battered with injuries. The Vikings' offense just hasn't been scoring. It's averaging only 15.8 points a week. Chester Taylor has been a success as a running back, but his running totals are rather anemic in the first three quarters.
Once the offensive line wears down a defense, Taylor starts breaking the big runs. If the Lions lose, Marinelli could start losing some of the players. They played hard for him early this season, but at 0-5, the fate of this season would be pretty well set. Marinelli was brought in to eliminate the losing atmosphere surrounding this franchise, but a winless start would only keep that aura in place.
4. Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears
Blowing out the Seahawks Sunday night has confidence in Chicago at an all-time high. It should be. Everyone knew the Bears' defense was going to be good. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris has been unblockable and the Bears are giving up a league-low 7.3 points a game and only 257 yards a game. The surprise has been the offense. Rex Grossman has a 100.8 quarterback rating, completing 62.4 percent of his passes and throwing for eight touchdowns.
The plan going into the season was to find a way to score 21 points a game. The Bears are averaging 29. They beat the Vikings on the road and have the NFC North in pretty good shape. They beat the Seahawks and have a tie-breaker in their back pocket for home-field advantage in the playoffs. They just have to make sure the Bills game isn't a trap game for them. Dick Jauron, the former Bears coach, returns with a young Bills teams that has been a surprise. The Bills are giving up only 16.3 points a game and J.P. Losman is gaining confidence at a quarterback. Still, watching the Bears defensive line go against the Bills offensive line could be a little ugly.
3. Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals
Dennis Green grew impatient with the fumbles and turnovers with Kurt Warner at the helm, so the Cardinals are going with rookie Matt Leinart as the starting QB. That might not solve the problem, though. Protection has been the big problem for the Cardinals. Leinart isn't mobile so he's going to need better play from the offensive line. Things were so bad, Green got on the radio Monday and called out the team's best linemen. Though he didn't use their names, he talked about guys making $3 million and griping instead of playing. If the line doesn't start playing better, the Cardinals' season will set in the West and Green's job might be looked at by ownership. Heck, if the Cardinals can't handle the Chiefs' defensive line, imagine the problems they will have with the Bears next Monday. The Chiefs are two weeks away from Trent Green's return at quarterback. Damon Huard did a nice job last week against the 49ers, but the Cardinals present problems because of their complicated blitzing scheme.