CHICAGO– Final thoughts – a quote to note from head coach Jim Caldwell, a Tulloch milestone, Stafford stats and weather effects as the Lions close out the season against the Bears at Soldier Field:
Caldwell's quote: When asked about his statement on the radio on how much he likes coaching this Lions team and why he wasn't campaigning to keep his job:
"I think it's pretty obvious. I love what I do. I love coaching – love this team, love this city. The guys that we've had an opportunity to coach have been great for us.
"But I also don't want that to be misconstrued, either. I do think that, oftentimes, what you do just in terms of trying to make a case for yourself or whatever that might be, it's certainly not my intent because of the fact that I don't believe in defending oneself.
"But I do enjoy what I'm doing. I do like what we do. I do love the players that we're coaching. I think we have a lot of great men, and obviously, I think the city's kind of welcomed me with open arms here, it's been great. So that was it."
The Tully 150: Stephen Tulloch is reaching a milestone in a season that began with a change in his role and is ending with uncertainty about his future with the Lions after five seasons as the starting middle linebacker.
Tulloch is playing in his 150th game – 147 in the regular season, three in the playoffs. His future is in doubt in part because of his reduced playing time and the fact that management might consider his base salary of $5.5 million in 2016 too steep for a situational player.
As he has all season, Tulloch declined to be interviewed, but teammates who represent a spectrum of experience spoke highly about his longevity.
Defensive end Darryl Tapp, a 10-year pro and second-year Lion who played in game 151 last week, called Tulloch's longevity "awesome."
"To get into this league, you have to be obviously talented," Tapp said. "You have to be blessed, with so many kids who play this game, to get the golden ticket. You have to have more than just athletic ability and talent on your side. He's been in situations where the coaching staffs and people upstairs believed in him and in his ability."
Backup linebacker Brandon Copeland is at the other end of the spectrum. He was signed by the Lions this year after participating in the NFL's first-ever veteran Combine and made the 53-player roster for the first time. In 2013 he was cut by the Ravens and spent time on the Titans' practice squad.
"As a guy who's been trying to make it forever, this being my first active year after three years trying, that all the respect in the world." Copeland said of Tulloch. "There are only a few jobs, and so many people in the world trying to get them. It speaks to his character and work ethic."
Tulloch signed with the Lions as a free agent in 2011 after five seasons with the Titans. He had never missed a game and was a full-time starter since 2008 before going down with a season-ending knee injury in Game 3 against the Packers last year.
Tulloch has started all 15 games this season, but he is not in the game in all situations. For example, he played 46 of 62 defensive snaps against the 49ers last week and 39 of 77 the previous week against the pass-oriented Saints. Among the linebackers, Josh Bynes and Tahir Whitehead had the highest snap count against the Saints with 62 each.
Stafford stat: Matthew Stafford has had a completion rate of 60 percent or higher in all 15 games. He's had a low of 60.4 percent (32-53) in Game 2 at Minnesota and a high of 88 percent (22-25) in Game 14 at New Orleans.
This will be the fifth straight season that Stafford has started all 16 games. His previous season high for most games with a 60-percent completion rate was 10, set in 2011.
Stafford's completion rate of 66.7 for the season is the highest of his career. His previous single-season high was 63.5, in 2011.
Aaron Rodgers stat: The Packers' star ranks sixth on the all-time list with a career completion rate of 65.1 percent, but he's at a career low through 15 games at 60.4 percent.
Rodgers has had seven games with a completion rate below 60 percent, and six have been in the last nine games.
Weather effect, Game 1-16: Conditions could not be much different from the Lions' opening game at San Diego and the finale at Soldier Field.
It was 84 degrees in San Diego, and the defense wilted like week-old lettuce after the Lions built a 21-3 lead. Philip Rivers completed 21 of 23 passes in the second half to lead a comeback to a 33-28 win.
There could be a 50-degree difference Sunday. Below-freezing temperatures (projected high is 30) could make some impact, but Stafford said the cold has little effect on throwing the ball.
"It's probably harder for the receivers to catch it," he said. "The only difference for me might be on quick throws."