TIM AND MIKE: Week 17 observations

Record review: Monday night's loss to the Cowboys made it hard to find anything positive to look at for Sunday's showdown with the Packers, but recent results offer hope for the Lions. The teams split the series the last three years, and if it hadn't been for the Hail Mary TD that won the game last year the Lions would have a three-game win streak at home over the Packers. Consolation prize – and a small one: they've been ahead with zeroes on the clock in the last three home games. Green Bay won the first meeting this year, 34-27 at Lambeau Field in Game 3. – *Mike O'Hara


Missing Marvin: After racing off to a hot start that saw him record 623 receiving yards in his first seven games, Marvin Jones Jr. has just 231 yards over his last seven. He's had a tough time beating press coverage. He had just one catch for 16 yards on seven targets in the loss to Dallas Monday night. That's simply not good enough. The good news though, is Jones had his best game of the season (six catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns) in the first meeting with Green Bay this season. – Tim Twentyman

Stafford, air drought: Matthew Stafford has gone 10 quarters without throwing a touchdown pass. It's the longest drought of his career. His last TD pass was to Anquan Boldin with 19 seconds left in the first half of the Lions' win over the Bears in Game 13. – Mike O'Hara

Zenner show: It's evident after Monday night that Zack Zenner (67 yards and two TDs on 12 carries) is the best pure runner from the running back position the Lions have on the roster, outside of Ameer Abdullah. Theo Riddick brings a lot to the table in the pass game, and the Lions miss him dearly in that regard, but as pure runners go, Zenner should continue to see the rock as long as Abdullah is out. – Tim Twentyman

Stafford, arm vs. legs: Since the TD pass to Boldin, Stafford has scored two rushing touchdowns – the game-winner vs. the Bears and one Monday night vs. the Cowboys – without a TD pass. – Mike O'Hara

Protecting No. 1 asset: Speaking of Stafford, it was a curious decision by head coach Jim Caldwell to put Stafford back in the game during the final Lions possession of the game down by 21 points with 1:06 left in the game. Why subject the team's best player to unnecessary risk in a game that was already out of hand? The Lions were careful and got the ball out of Stafford's hand quickly on passes to Golden Tate and Dwayne Washington, but why risk the franchise to some young pass rusher trying to make a splash play late? – Tim Twentyman

Grades, on the line:The Cowboys' offensive line gets a lot of credit for paving the way for rookie Ezekiel Elliott to lead the NFL in rushing yards, and it's well deserved. But according to Pro Football Focus, the four highest grades for offensive linemen in Monday night's game went to Lions: guards Larry Warford (85.6) and Laken Tomlinson (81.5) and tackles Taylor Decker (79.1) and Riley Reiff (78.9). The top grades for Cowboys linemen went to center Travis Frederick (77.2) and tackle Tyron Smith (73.2). – Mike O'Hara

Is this still football?: I thought the Cowboys got a cheap 15 yards when Lions defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a tackle of Elliott in the third quarter. Robinson wrapped his arms around Elliott, and in an effort to stop his momentum, Robinson twisted and then lifted Elliott off the ground and both players went to the ground. The rule book says it's roughness if a runner is thrown to the ground after the ball is blown dead, which in this case it wasn't. Also, Robinson could have been much rougher with Elliott if he really wanted to hurt him. Watch the replay. I'm all for player safety, but this is still football. – Tim Twentyman

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