Lions mailbag: More likely to miss postseason or win a playoff game?

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Devin Taylor

Allen Park -- First place in the division after Thanksgiving is kind of unique around these parts. And with first place comes more interest, which means more questions for the mailbag, so let's get to them.

@Justin_Rogers w/ Rudock showing enough to be on the active roster. What chance Lions trade Stafford instead of extending? #sellhigh

— eric schlukebir (@ericschlukebir) November 29, 2016

What in the world? I take the weekend off and these are the questions when I come back. This is why you can't have nice things.

@Justin_Rogers The rate that Killebrew gets the 3rd down tackle when he is in is rather high. Is that more scheme, chance, or talent?

— Richard Davisson (@RickDaddyJames) November 29, 2016

It was nice to see Miles Killebrew stack quality performances on top of each other, suggesting improvement as opposed to a fluke. As for the high tackle rate on third downs, it's a combination of scheme and execution. The Lions are conceding some stuff underneath, in most instances, and the young safety isn't missing the tackles, which has been key.

@Justin_Rogers Your take on Bennie Fowler TD vs. giving self up late on SNF? Will Caldwell use this to better teach game/time management?

— Matt Nevala (@MNevala9) November 29, 2016

It's a good question, and for those who missed it, the receiver opted to score a touchdown late in the game when his team held a one-point lead, giving the opponent enough time to drive the length of the field and tie the game.

I have a difficult time faulting Fowler. He scored with three minutes remaining, so the Broncos couldn't kill the clock by kneeling. Let's say he slides down at the one and for whatever reason the Broncos can't get into the end zone with three tries. The Chiefs didn't have any timeouts, so you're settling for a field goal and a four-point lead with 75 seconds remaining. The odds are probably slightly more in Denver's favor in that scenario, but is it enough to risk the other things that could go wrong?

As for the second part of the question, you know Jim Caldwell is studying the play and using it as a teaching moment. Maybe I'll ask about it later this week.

@Justin_Rogers Do the Lions bring back Bryant? If yes who do they waive and why?

— poopdongokon suh (@gameofdabs) November 29, 2016

Cute username.

Yes, the Lions are going to bring back Armonty Bryant. He was a productive pass rusher in limited snaps and the team could really use a boost in that area.

I'm not going to predict who gets let go to clear the roster spot. I do my best to avoid predicting when someone is going to lose their job.

@Justin_Rogers Q. Diggs has been struggling heavily this year. Do you think the Lions will bench him in the future?

— M Dot (@DigitalMayne) November 29, 2016

I don't think Quandre Diggs is having an awful year, but he's certainly better coming downhill, playing the run or a short pass, than he is covering assignments downfield. That's a tricky skill set since you prefer not to have a nickelback on the field in obvious run downs.

The Lions don't really have another clear option. Sure, they could always slide Nevin Lawson inside, where they had planned playing him as a rookie, but Johnthan Banks hasn't proven he's ready to take over the outside job.

@Justin_Rogers if season were over today, what position do you think lions would need to spend 1st rd pick on?

— Harry (@503LionsFan) November 29, 2016

It's not that simple. The Lions have multiple needs and it would really depend on who declares for the draft and who is available when the Lions are on the clock. Right now, the team's biggest needs are linebacker, defensive end, offensive line (Riley Reiff and Larry Warford are going to be free agents) and running back, although I'm not a big fan of taking one of those in the first round unless it's a transcendent talent.

@Justin_Rogers what is the most winnable road game?

— Erik Kaseta (@ekaseta) November 29, 2016

Against the Giants. Don't get me wrong, it's a good team that's won six in a row, but they're not blowing anyone out and they don't have a reliable ground game. As long as it's close in the fourth quarter, you know the Lions have a chance.

@Justin_Rogers what is the most loseable home game?

— RICH KOENIGSKNECHT (@RICH_K13) November 29, 2016

I did not set this up, these questions came in back to back. This one is easy, with only two games remaining at Ford Field, Green Bay is the more challenging matchup and it's not really close.

@Justin_Rogers whats more likely to happen... win a playoff game or miss the playoffs?

— Aaron Sturgill (@aaron_sturgill) November 29, 2016

Tough question. Let's pretend you like math and assumptions.

Detroit's playoff odds range from 50-75 percent based on my cursory glance. Let's take the average and say the team has a 62.5 percent chance of making it and a 37.5 percent chance of falling short.

It's also fair to say if the Lions don't win the division, they'll be golfing in January. And since 1990, home teams have won 70 percent of divisional playoff games.

That means the Lions have a 43.8 percent chance of making the playoffs and advancing, greater than the 37.5 percent chance of missing the postseason completely.

@Justin_Rogers are the Lions good enough to win going away with any remaining teams on their sched. or will we need more 4th qtr. miracles?

— Andrew Cote (@AWCote) November 29, 2016

Given how banged up the Bears are right now, that would be the game. That said, the Lions should have whooped them at their place earlier this season and didn't, so don't get your hopes up.

@Justin_Rogers has Jim Caldwell done enough at this point to keep his job for another year?

— uoɹɐ∀ (@ZapRowzdower) November 29, 2016

No, that's premature. If the Lions drop four or five of their remaining games and miss the postseason, he probably shouldn't keep his job.

@Justin_Rogers what rank is the highest defense they have left to play and who is it

— Joshua Clark (@Samzon68) November 29, 2016

The Giants are the best defense on the schedule. They're allowing fewer than 20 points per game and score well in efficiency metrics.

@Justin_Rogers do you feel the coaches can cure Washington's lack of vision in the run and inability to pick up blocks or will he be a bust?

— Detroit Lions AJ (@DefendTheDen) November 29, 2016

Can a seventh-round pick be a bust? I vote no. He's probably already exceeded expectations by playing this much as a rookie.

But you're asking about his vision. He just needs to learn to run with more patience. It's like any job. You're slow with new tasks at first because your mind is racing with information overload, but as you repeat the task multiple times, it becomes easier and easier. These repetitions for Washington are valuable and the hope is the game will eventually slow down for the young back. We've seen his open-field ability and it's exciting.

@Justin_Rogers any truth to the rumor that the Lions are playing well because @jkatzenstein has moved on?

— i like turtles (@DominationDiggs) November 29, 2016

I don't know, we should ask the former Detroit News Lions beat writer.

@DominationDiggs @Justin_Rogers yes

— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) November 29, 2016

Well, there you have it.

@Justin_Rogers if everything goes perfect for the Lions, what's the earliest they could clinch a playoff spot?

— Keith (@Keith_Johnson11) November 29, 2016

In two weeks. The Lions would have to beat the Saints and Bears, while the Vikings and Packers would need to each lose their next two.

@Justin_Rogers has the era of Lions dominance of the NFC North begun?

— The Will To Win (@TWTWsports) November 29, 2016

Why don't you see if they can win this first one before we fire up the dynasty talk.

S Miles Killebrew - A third-down specialist, Killebrew struggled initially, but steadily improved. By the end of the season, it was unusual when he wasn’t around the ball, making a play. Like Williams, he was also a big special teams contributor. GRADE: B-

@Justin_Rogers whatever became of Devin Taylor?

— NightMoves212 (@NightMoves212) November 29, 2016

He needs to be put on a milk carton. In the past five games, he's recorded five tackles and no sacks. He's not making a strong impression in a contract year and is likely costing himself millions.

@Justin_Rogers Will the @Lions be able to put enough points on the board to keep up with the Saints offense?

— John Popovits (@Thurfir_Hawat) November 29, 2016

The defense is going to need to step up because the Saints are averaging 30.4 points per game and have topped 40 three times, including the 49 they dropped on the Rams last week. The Lions have scored 30 or more twice and have been held under 23 in four of the past five.

@Justin_Rogers will they flex lions-Giants to SNF in a couple weeks? Steelers-bengals looks awful for that late in the season

— OptionsTrader32 (@optionstrader32) November 29, 2016

It's certainly a possibility. But even though the Bengals are floundering, the Steelers are in a tight race atop that division and are one of the biggest national draws.

@Justin_Rogers Also on my mind, is it ever too early to put up the Christmas tree? I say no, but my wife likes to wait.

— John Popovits (@Thurfir_Hawat) November 29, 2016

Your wife is right, John. If it's before Thanksgiving, it's too early.

@Justin_Rogers Lots of talk about defensive improvement lately. Are you buying it or did they just have a run of games against very bad QBs?

— Redruckus81 (@Redruckus81) November 29, 2016

The quality of competition is a factor, but they were getting picked apart by mediocre quarterbacks earlier this season. Case Keenum, anyone?

What you have to like is the improved play on third down and in the red zone. If you're going to bend, you can't break every time. We'll see if they can maintain against an elite quarterback like Drew Brees.