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Lions find themselves under brighter lights

Detroit could be focus of more prime-time coverage if it continues winning ways.

October 08, 2011|By Sam Farmer
  • Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford led Detroit to a 34-30 victory over Dallas at Cowboys Stadium in Texas last Sunday.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford led Detroit to a 34-30 victory over… (Tim Heitman / US Presswire )

Are the Detroit Lions ready for their close-up?

The Lions, 4-0 for the first time since 1980, play host to Chicago on "Monday Night Football," the first time Detroit has been part of that showcase game since 2001.

But, as the Detroit Free Press pointed out this week, there could be more prime-time games on the way if the Lions keep winning. Although the club isn't scheduled to play in any nationally televised night games in the final 12 weeks of the season, the NFL can move marquee games into that Sunday night time slot starting in Week 10.

For instance, Detroit plays New Orleans in Week 13. That could be a more enticing matchup than the currently scheduled Sunday night game between New England and the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts. If the races things were to keep going this way, Detroit's finale against Green Bay could be very meaningful.

"You know how it is," Lions receiver Nate Burleson told the Free Press. "The NFL, they love to make money, so if there's a demand to see a certain team, they're going to figure out a way to get that team on TV.

"So if we get good ratings and play a good game [Monday], we might have a little demand out there like, 'Let's get them Detroit boys back.'?"

Wes coast? Never

If Wes Welker is going to make NFL history, he'll have to go through All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis to do it.

Welker figures he'll see plenty of the New York Jets star defensive back Sunday when he lines up in the slot.

"We've cut out about 600 snaps between last year and this year where he's actually been in the slot," Welker told reporters. "I don't think it's anything different from what they do. He's very patient, physical, a smart player. He's definitely going to present some problems for us."

Welker leads the NFL in receptions, 40, and yards receiving, 616. He needs eight catches and 89 yards against the Jets to set the record for the most receptions and receiving yards through a team's first five games of a season.

Most receptions and receiving yards through five games (*through four games):

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati, 2007, 47
J.T. Smith, Phoenix, 1989, 44
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis, 2002, 44
Derrick Mason, Baltimore, 2007, 44
Many tied , 42
Wes Welker, New England, 2011 *40

PLAYER, TEAM, YEAR, YDS Charley Hennigan, Houston, 1961, 704 Bob Boyd, L.A. Rams, 1954, 686 Crazy Legs Hirsch, L.A. Rams, 1951, 663 Mark Duper, Miami, 1984, 649 Henry Ellard, L.A. Rams, 1989, 636 Terry Glenn, New England, 1999, 636 Wes Welker, New England, 2011 *616

Fashion police

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has led the Tennessee Titans to a 3-1 start, and has been almost quiet in doing so. That's one of the drawbacks of playing in a market that doesn't get as much attention as places such as New York, Philadelphia and Dallas.

Then again, playing in a lower-profile market has its advantages.

"You can wear illegal uniform stuff in Seattle and Tennessee, and no one's going to fine you," said Hasselbeck, who spent a decade with the Seahawks. "No one's going to notice. You do it in New York and they fine you 10 grand.

"In Seattle, we wore black cleats with white laces for years. Then, all of a sudden they started flexing our games [moving them to prime time] and Merton Hanks started fining us," he said, referring to the player-turned-league executive who handles those matters. "He said, 'You can't wear white laces.' I was like, 'We've been wearing white laces for three years, what are you talking about?' "

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