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The Detroit Lions narrowly avoided losing a trap game against the NFL’s worst team Sunday before they mounted a fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Cleveland Browns.

Then they did something even more impressive and tried to spin a narrative about how great the 0-9 Browns are. Remember, the Browns’ home is a place nicknamed “The Factory of Sadness.”

The Lions climbed a few spots in the playoff hunt. But the only national buzz they generated Monday came from Glover Quin’s statement that the Browns probably have better athletes than “25 out of the 32 teams in the league.” Coach Jim Caldwell also tried to explain that the Browns have good players.

These are the things teams tell themselves to feel better. They are justifications that excuse their own shortcomings.

Now, the Lions face another trap game this week in Chicago. Like the Browns, the Bears are an opponent the Lions should dominate. But how much confidence does anyone have that the Lions can do that?

The Lions are going to go into the spin cycle again this week. What we won’t hear from coaches and players is the obvious. That Bears coach John Fox is on the brink of being fired. That the Bears are 3-6 and so hopeless that 5,624 fans skipped Sunday’s game at Soldier Field against their most-hated rival, the Green Bay Packers.

It was just as well. Those Bears fans didn’t have to sit around and watch Mitchell Trubisky get sacked five times. Or watch their run game rack up 55 yards in a 23-16 loss. Or watch the defense allow Brett Hundley, making the third start of his career, to post a 110.8 passer rating.

The Bears stink like a Bear doing his business in the woods. So, I’m going to do the Lions a favor and preemptively offer all the excuses they’re sure to offer this week for why the Bears are good. This way, the Lions don’t have to waste any energy coming up with dumb ideas.  That’s why I’m here: dumb ideas. You’re welcome, Lions.

Excuse No. 1: Division games are always tough

That’s a myth perpetuated by the frequency of games in the division. Just because you play an opponent often and develop a certain amount of animosity toward them doesn’t mean the games are tough or that the opponents are good. The Bears, who are 0-3 against the NFC North, are going to play the nail to every division opponents’ hammer the rest of the season.
Excuse No. 2: The Bears have beaten good teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Carolina Panthers

If you want an instant headache, watch the crime against football otherwise known as the Bears’ 23-17 overtime win over Pittsburgh in September. If you want to watch someone turn in a winning lottery ticket, watch safety Eddie Jackson return two turnovers for 151 yards and touchdowns in a 17-3 win over Carolina.
Excuse No. 3: The Bears have a good defense

This one, I’m willing to give on. But just a little. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is the only thing saving the Bears’ bacon. The defense ranks ninth overall, 10th against the pass, 16th against the run and 13th in points allowed per game. They have good front-seven players in Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd, Nick Kwiatkoski and Pernell McPhee. But linebacker Danny Trevathan has been hurt and cornerback Kyle Fuller hasn’t lived up to his first-round draft status.
Excuse No. 4: Soldier Field is a tough place to play

Sure, when Mike Ditka was prowling the sidelines and Mike Singletary was playing linebacker. But Soldier Field is only a tough venue now because of the terrible condition of its grass, thanks to the Chicago Park District.
Excuse No. 5: John Fox is a veteran coach who has taken two teams to the Super Bowl

That’s true. It’s also true Fox is about to end his head coaching career after a three-year disaster that has made the Great Chicago Fire look like a mild flare-up by comparison. Fox and Caldwell threw two of the worst challenge flags on Sunday. I’d like to see a showdown between the coaches, who meet in the middle of the field at 20 paces to see who can initiate the dumber challenge.

There is no conceivable reason for the Lions to lose Sunday in Chicago. No reason at all. But that doesn’t mean the Lions won’t try to provide one.

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Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions (3-2), led by quarterback Matthew Stafford, meet the New Orleans Saints (2-2), led by quarterback Drew Brees, in an NFC matchup in NFL Week 6 action on Sunday, October 15, 2017 (10/15/17) at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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Here is the AP recap of the game:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints defensive lineman Cam Jordan saw the goal post right in front him and couldn’t resist the urge to rise up for a basketball-style dunk of the football over the cross bar.

Jordan had just tipped quarterback Matthew Stafford’s pass to himself in the Detroit end zone — a climactic moment in a game defined by bizarre bounces, unusual plays, extraordinary momentum swings and a historical first for New Orleans’ defense. Only a forbidden, fineable touchdown celebration would do.

“I realized my regular sack dance wasn’t going to cut it,” said Jordan, who expects to be fined and said it will have been worth it. “Fourth quarter, game was sort of tight. We had to seal that. I had been preaching: ‘This is our chance to respond.’ I’m glad I was the one to do it.”

Running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for 237 yards from scrimmage, the Saints’ resurgent defense forced five turnovers and scored a franchise-record three times, and New Orleans took a 52-38 victory over the Lions on Sunday in a contest that wound up being nowhere near over after the Saints took a five-TD lead.

New Orleans (3-2), which has a winning record for the first time since its last playoff season in 2013, had to gut out a remarkable bid by Detroit (3-3) to pull off the greatest comeback in NFL history.

“It was a different one from sure,” said Stafford, noting that he and Saints QB Drew Brees even brought up the strange nature of the game when they greeted each other on the field before heading to the locker room. “He came up and said, ‘That was a weird one, huh?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it was crazy.’”

Already renowned for leading Lions comebacks, Stafford only regretted three interceptions he described as fluky and his two fumbles.

“I’ll probably be more frustrated with the fumbles than anything else,” he said. “I’ve got to find a way to hold on to the ball.”

The Lions scored four straight TDs, including one on a 74-yard punt return by Jamal Agnew and another on A’Shawn Robinson’s close-range interception near the Saints goal line, in less than 15 minutes off the game clock to pull as close as 45-38 with 6:41 still left.

“We just don’t give up,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “Our guys show a lot of resolve. I don’t think they ever feel they are out of a game.”

But after Agnew muffed a punt and barely got it out of the end zone, Jordan scored about the same way Robinson had.

Saints coach Sean Payton’s voice was hoarse after a game in which Superdome crowd noise was fueled by the high-octane drama, and he forecast a long night of reviewing game video in an effort to see how dominant play for nearly three quarters nearly morphed into a collapse for the ages.

“We did a lot of dumb things, but fortunately our defense did a lot of good things,” Payton said. “I’m trying to be happy today, but it’s hard.”

TURNOVER CENTRAL

The teams combined for eight turnovers.

The Saints’ defense produced its first points on Detroit’s first possession, when end Alex Okafor sacked and stripped Stafford in the end zone and safety Kenny Vaccaro recovered. In the third quarter, rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans’ top draft choice last spring, made his first interception and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.

“I just love how we’re coming together as a team; that was one thing we had to do,” Lattimore said. “The first game, we were giving up stuff and just not communicating and right now we’re doing a good job.”

Vaccaro also intercepted a tipped fourth quarter pass and linebacker Craig Robertson forced and recovered Stafford’s second fumble.

The Saints hadn’t turned the ball over once this season before Brees was intercepted by Darius Slay, who ripped a potential catch from receiver Michael Thomas’ hands. Ingram fumbled in the second half.

“Probably one of the crazier games I have been a part of,” said Brees, now in his 17th season. “We have some momentum but we have to get better.”

THE NUMBERS

Playing on a sore right ankle that visibly limited his mobility, Stafford was hit often, sacked five times and had about a dozen passes tipped or batted down. He finished 25 of 52 for 312 yards and touchdowns of 45 yards to Golden Tate, 22 yards each to Marvin Jones and Darren Fells.

Brees was 21 for 31 for 186 yards and touchdowns of 20 yards to Ted Ginn and 2 yards to tight end Michael Hoomanawanui.

Ingram scored two TDs on short runs and rushed for 114 yards on 25 carries in the first game since the Saints traded Adrian Peterson to Arizona.

INJURIES

Lions: Safety Glover Quin left the game to be evaluated for a head injury in the second half. Offensive tackle Greg Robinson limped off the field in the third quarter.