What matters: A win is the only acceptable result for the Lions. Detroit's margin for error to make the playoffs virtually zero, and there's still a trip to Green Bay -- where the Lions haven't won in more than 20 years -- on the schedule. Sunday is the first of four straight games in which Detroit plays a playoff-caliber team and it must go at least 3-1 for a shot at the postseason.
What Detroit must do to beat the Packers
• Find a “Robin” for Calvin Johnson's “Batman”: WR Nate Burleson, who is out for the season with a broken leg, was fond of describing Johnson as the Lions' Caped Crusader, and himself as the Boy Wonder. Since Burleson's injury, Johnson hasn't had enough help from the other receivers to draw coverage away from him in key situations. Johnson had 207 receiving yards against the Vikings in Week 10. The other receivers combined for 101 yards. The passing game must be more balanced Sunday.
• “Turnover” a new leaf on defense: The Lions have a top-10 defense despite a losing record. Unfortunately, they are among the NFL's worst in turnover margin at minus-4, helping lead to a No. 24 ranking for points allowed. Some on the defense say they think Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is vulnerable to turnovers because he's holding the ball longer in the pocket this season. An early turnover could go a long way to a Detroit win.
• Get a fast start: The Lions average just 8.3 first-half points, and the Packers score 14.2. Rodgers is at his best when he's playing with a lead, so the Lions' offense must keep pace with the Packers to give Matthew Stafforda chance to control the game in the fourth quarter.
Who matters: After an uninspired performance against the Vikings (47 rushing yards combined), RBs Joique Belland Mikel Leshoure must be a bigger factor. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said establishing the run and short passes are keys to a win. … The Lions get a break with Packers' LB Clay Matthews out with a hamstring injury. That means the defense should look to exploit his absence by using TEs Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler to open the middle of the field in the passing game.
Key matchups: Packers WRs Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones vs. Lions secondary: Cobb has been a revelation for Green Bay, adding 45 receptions to his duties as a return man. His speed could prove problematic as Detroit copes with DB injuries. Nelson, who is returning from injury, is expected to play, meaning Cobb will likely match up against a corner other than Chris Houston. Nelson and Jones are models of consistency and Rodgers' relationship with his receivers gives Green Bay a decided advantage against a patchwork Detroit secondary. ... Lions WR Johnson vs. Packers CB Tramon Williams: Williams is the latest cornerback to adopt the nickname “Optimus Prime” before a matchup against “Megatron.” The last corner to use it, Seattle's Richard Sherman, held Johnson to three catches for 46 yards -- but the Lions won. Johnson was hobbled against the Seahawks, though, and he'll be healthier Sunday. Williams prefers to handle receivers one-on-one, but Johnson should have an advantage unless Green Bay adds safety help. ... Cobb vs. Lions' special teams: Cobb's elusiveness has been a problem for coverage units that are better than Detroit's. Coordinator Danny Crossman's coverage teams have done well to limit opposing return men the past four games, and that trend needs to continue.
Injuries of note: The Lions released the following status report for Sunday: Out: S Amari Spievey and DT Corey Williams (knee). Doubtful: S Louis Delmas (knee). Questionable: CB Chris and WR Johnson (knee). Probable: DECliff Avril (back), S Erik Coleman (eye), K Jason Hanson (left foot), LB Ashlee Palmer (chest) and WR Titus Young(knee).
Inside stuff: K Hanson has been listed on the injury report all week with a foot problem. If something happens to Hanson during the game, P Nick Harris would most likely handle placekicking duties, with backup QB Shaun Hill as his holder. … Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham and coach Jim Schwartz said Friday that CB Drayton Florence may be active for Sunday's game. If Florence is moved to the active roster before the Saturday deadline, the team will need to release a player.
Connections: Lions CB Jacob Lacey (2009-11), G Dylan Gandy (2005-07), and T Corey Hilliard (2007-08) played in Indianapolis with Packer C Jeff Saturday (1999-11). Gandy, Hilliard and Saturday played for the Colts' 2007 Super Bowl winner. Lions DT Williams (2004-07) was originally drafted by the Packers in the sixth round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
Stat you should know: Despite the number of points Detroit has allowed, the front seven ranks among the league's best in tackles for loss. Detroit has 72 TFLs for 274 yards. That ranks second in the NFL and shows how much the secondary has hurt the defense.
Looking ahead: Win or lose, the Lions face a short turnaround as they prepare to face the Texans on Thursday in the annual Thanksgiving Day Classic. Detroit hasn't fared well in those games and is on an eight-game turkey-day skid.
Follow Lions reporter John Kreger on Twitter at @CBSLions and @JohnKreger
Facing the Atlanta Falcons one week after they suffered their first loss might not present the ideal opportunity for the Arizona Cardinals to end a five-game losing streak.
The host Falcons look to get back to their winning ways Sunday against a Cardinals team that's trying to avoid a second six-game skid in as many seasons.
Atlanta (8-1) is eager to move on from Sunday's 31-27 defeat at New Orleans as it tries to maintain its standing as the top team in the NFC. The Falcons have not lost consecutive regular-season games since Dec. 6-13, 2009.
"We have a veteran football team, so we've won games and we've lost games and it's all about the way you bounce back," defensive back Dunta Robinson said. "One thing I know about this team in the years that I've been here is that we've always bounced back after a loss and I don't expect anything different.
"I mean, we're 8-1, so you can't be too down and you can't be too disappointed about that. ... We're still excited about our future."
The Falcons appear to be an extremely confident group despite losing a game they were in position to win. They led 10-0 in the first quarter and nearly erased a 28-17 fourth-quarter deficit, but failed to convert twice from the New Orleans 1-yard line and was stopped on fourth-and-2 on the same drive with less than 2 minutes to play.
Matt Ryan threw for 411 yards with three touchdowns and one interception while Tony Gonzalez caught 11 passes for 122 yards and two TDs. Atlanta's inability to produce against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, though, played a big part in the defeat. Michael Turner was held to 15 yards on 13 carries and the Falcons totaled 46 yards rushing.
"We've got to do a lot of things better," coach Mike Smith said. "It's not one position group, it's not one guy, it's the entire offense."
The Falcons allowed the Saints to rush for 148 yards and star tight end Jimmy Graham caught seven passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
The Falcons shook things up Monday when they released veteran defensive end Ray Edwards, who started four games this season and had nine tackles and no sacks.
Atlanta ranks 20th in the league allowing 365.6 yards per game, and it will try for a better defensive performance against an Arizona team that is 31st in total offense at 295.4 yards a contest and scoring at 16.0 points. The Cardinals are last in the league with 76.2 yards per game on the ground.
Facing a Falcons squad looking for a ninth straight home win may not bode well for the Cardinals (4-5), who come out of their bye looking for a way to stop their skid.
"Physically you won't be that much better but mentally you can be better, especially when you are going through a streak like we are going through now," safety Kerry Rhodes told the team's official website. "Wipe the slate clean."
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he would not hold back from shuffling his lineup, and rookie Nate Potter is expected to start at left tackle in place of D'Anthony Batiste on a line that has allowed an NFL-high 41 sacks.
"We're not going to be afraid to make a change," Whisenhunt said. "That's what you have to look at. If it gives us an opportunity to get better and not stay the same, then that's what you have to do, because we've been inconsistent and we're looking for more consistency. When we play consistent football, we're a pretty good football team."
The line made strides in the team's last game Nov. 4, giving up only two sacks in a 31-17 loss at Green Bay. John Skelton threw for 306 yards with a TD and INT for the Cardinals.
Larry Fitzgerald, who caught six passes for 74 yards with a touchdown, has one 100-yard receiving game on the season and that came in Week 3. He had seven receptions for 83 yards in a 41-7 loss at Atlanta on Sept. 19, 2010.
Ryan, fourth in the league with a 102.6 passer rating, threw for 225 yards and three TDs in that contest.