Let's hear it for Detroit coach Wayne Fontes. The Lions were 3-6 when Fontes was given a playoffs-or-else ultimatum by owner William Clay Ford. Translation: Win the last seven or get lost. Detroit won its next three, and with games remaining against Chicago, Houston, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, a sweep is not out of the question.
The offense is keying the Lions' surge. Barry Sanders is the league's most exciting runner, Herman Moore and Brett Perriman are arguably the NFLs best receiving tandem, and quarterback Scott Mitchell no longer looks shaky. All of which makes you wonder how Fontes got into this predicament in the first place. Well, he may be on life support, but it sure beats the alternative.
Bear-ly Hanging On
In their 27-24 win over the Giants on Sunday, the Bears finally found the grace under pressure that had eluded them in their previous three games, all losses. Erik Kramer coolly marched Chicago into field goal range, and Kevin Butler, who had missed four of his previous six attempts, was dead-on with a 37-yarder.
At 7-5 heading into Monday's game at Detroit, Chicago remains very much alive for a playoff berth. The Bears' postseason fate could hinge on a Dec. 24 meeting against the 8-4 Eagles at Soldier Field.
Sometimes the Vikings are good, sometimes they're not. No wonder they're 6-6. The best they can reasonably expect is 9-7, considering that they have the misfortune of drawing the resurgent 49ers in San Francisco on Dec. 18.
There's another problem. Even with a win over the Bucs on Sunday, the Vikes would finish only 3-5 against division foes. That's no way to win a tiebreaker.