The question was asked last week about if fans should start panicking about Michigan State men's basketball.

Well, the same question now needs to be asked about your gridiron heroes, the Detroit Lions.

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On the surface, things look pretty good.  The Lions are 9-4 and have a two-game lead in the NFC North with four games left in the regular season.  And with two more wins, the Lions would likely clinch their first division title since 1993.  That's when they beat the Green Bay Packers in the last week of the season to win the NFC Central.

But if you look a little deeper, there are troubling signs all over the place.

We know about the issues on defense.  And the relative lack of a pass rush that has plagued the team most of the season.  They are currently 15th in the NFL in yards allowed (323.5).  That's not bad, but they've allowed 314 points in 13 games.  That's only 10th in the NFC and tied for 25th in the NFL.  That's not good enough.

But offensively, they're starting to struggle.  The offensive line injuries (Decker, Jackson, Ragnow, Vaitai, et al) are starting to take their toll.  They allowed four sacks this past Sunday to the Chicago Bears.  And that has hurt QB Jared Goff's play.  He's thrown five interceptions in the last four games.  And his lack of arm strength and mobility is really noticeable right now.  Just use the eye test, folks.

And head coach Dan Campbell's (pictured) overaggressiveness is hurting the team again.  It has cost them in several games this season.  And the fact that he went for it on 4th and 10 on the Chicago 35 yard line (which happened early in the second quarter and resulted in an interception) was idiotic.  Either a punt or a 53 yard field goal attempt would've been the right call.

With Jared Goff's recent struggles, wouldn't it make sense to run the ball more?  They rushed for 140 yards and a score as a team on 24 attempts against Chicago.  Despite some injuries, David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs have been very good.  They should lean on them a bit more.

Panic might be a little bit too strong of a word regarding the Lions.  But the rest of their schedule is tough.  They host Denver this Saturday before heading to Minnesota to play the 7-6 Vikings on Christmas Eve.  They then head to Dallas to play the red-hot Cowboys before coming home to face the Vikings on the final Sunday of the season.

If they lose the division in this final month, they have nobody to blame but themselves.  And if they choke away a playoff berth and miss the postseason (which is unlikely, but still mathmatically possible), it would be the ultimate SOL (Same Old Lions) for this franchise and fanbase.

And missing the playoffs this season is utter failure, no matter how many injuries they've had.

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