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O'HARA: What we learned from Week 15

The Detroit Lions came into this season with a goal of winning the NFC North title, and nothing has happened to change that.

That's what we learned from head coach Dan Campbell at his Monday press conference.

Among the other things we learned was how roles change, and how the Lions have avoided losing streaks.

We start with Campbell, and how the target is still on winning the North:

"That's where it is," Campbell said. "If something happens between now and then, that's all good. That is our focus. We talked about that this morning as a team.

"That was the focus when we entered it, and it's still the focus. We're going to do everything we can to win this division and there's nothing that's going to be easy about it."

The Lions have a 10-4 won-loss record with three games left, starting next Sunday at NFC North rival Minnesota.

"We have to go out to Minneapolis and face the Vikings who are a very dangerous team and find a way to win it and get this division."

The Vikings are the defending NFC North champions, with a 13-4 record in 2022. They're 7-7 with a slight chance to win the North – if they win their last three games and the Lions lose their last three.

No losing streaks: The Lions have not lost two games in a row this season, and player relationships have a role in it.

"Yeah, there is something about it." Campbell said. "That's why we constructed it the way we did. You're looking for guys that you believe can play the positions they do, but you got to be made up a certain way, too.

"That's what this league is. It is about the obstacles you face. The adversity. The pressure that is put on you from the outside that you have to be able to block out. The best way to say it is, do we have guys that endear themselves to their teammates. That's got to be a quality that you have. If it's not, it's hard for you to stay here with us.

"If you endear yourself to your teammates, the way you go about your business, the way that you communicate, the way that you interact with them. Then those guys are probably going to want to battle with you.

"I just think that goes a long way in this profession. Especially, here we are in December, it's getting late in the year. Guys get tired. You start getting worn down. This is when you really have to dig in."

Moving up: Sometimes it's worth the wait for a player whose development has been slowed by injuries or other factors.

Ifeatu Melifonwu is one of those players.

Melifonwu was drafted by the Lions in the third round out of Syracuse in 2021. He was part of GM Brad Holmes' first draft class with the Lions.

At 6-3 and 210 pounds and a time of 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Melifonwu had the skills to play in the secondary. Unfortunately, he did not have the good fortune to stay healthy.

He played seven games with four starts as a rookie and 10 games with one start in 2022. That has changed this year.

Melifonwu has played all 14 games, and he has played all but three snaps in the last two games as the starting safety.

He sacked quarterback Russell Wilson on the Broncos' first possession in Saturday night's game. That caused a fumble that the Lions recovered but could not convert to points.

However, it was the start of a big night for Melifonwu. In addition to the sack he had a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits and two passes defended.

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