At first glance, it may not appear that Washington or the Detroit Lions have much at stake in their matchup because their combined record is 5-11.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 08: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions leaves the field after an injury against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 08, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Both teams, though, have plenty to play for Sunday at Ford Field — and the rest of the season.

Washington (2-6) still has a shot to win the NFC East and host a playoff game because Philadelphia (3-4-1) is in first place despite having a losing record.

“We’re still in it,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. “Let’s be realistic. What’s the best record in our division? See my point?”

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – NOVEMBER 01: Head coach Matt Patricia of the Detroit Lions looks on against the Indianapolis Colts at Ford Field on November 01, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

The Lions (3-5) are led by embattled coach Matt Patricia, who is hoping to help them finish well enough that ownership retains him again. Even though Patricia’s future with the franchise has been questioned publicly for more than a year, he hasn’t looked or sounded much different after any of his 12 wins, 27 losses, or one tie over two-plus seasons in Detroit.

“I probably get a little bit of that from my dad,” Patricia said. “I think he was just a real, steady kind of guy and handled a lot of situations pretty remarkably.

“You have to stay consistent every single day. That way, when things aren’t going well you have to focus on what you have to do to get better.”

SMITH’S START

LANDOVER, MD – NOVEMBER 08: Alex Smith #11 of the Washington Football Team throws a pass against the New York Giants at FedExField on November 8, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Washington quarterback Alex Smith is expected to start for the first time since breaking his right tibia and fibula nearly two years ago. Smith, who has played in two games this season, is confident he will be in a better position to have success after a full week of snaps with the first-team offense.

“I feel like I’m ready to roll,” said Smith, who threw for 325 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions in last week’s loss to the New York Giants.

PETERSON’S REUNION TOUR

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 08: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Detroit Lions runs with the ball against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 08, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Lions running back Adrian Peterson will face a former team for the fourth time in a seven-game span.

“Yeah, I noticed that,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Peterson spent the previous two seasons with Washington, rushing for 1,940 yards and 12 touchdowns. Rivera cut him in favor of younger options and knows the 35-year-old Peterson will be very motivated to show what he can still do in the Motor City.

“I’m never excited about playing against a future Hall of Famer, that’s for doggone sure,” Rivera said.

Washington rookie Antonio Gibson, a third-round pick, leads the team with 391 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Gibson shares time with J.D. McKissic, who played for the Lions last year, and Peyton Barber.

STAFFORD’S STRUGGLES

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 13: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions reacts to a drop pass late in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on September 13, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was reunited with his wife and three daughters in the middle of the week. He stayed in a hotel before and after last Sunday’s game at Minnesota due to the NFL’s coronavirus protocols.

“It will be nice to sleep in my own bed,” he said. “Looking forward to getting back to a normal routine and being around the family.”

After not practicing with the team all last week, Stafford threw interceptions on consecutive possessions in the third quarter at the Minnesota 12 and in the end zone and later left the game to be evaluated for a concussion.

“I had some mistakes that cost us big time,” he acknowledged.

D-LINE INVESTMENTS

LANDOVER, MD – NOVEMBER 08: Chase Young #99 of the Washington Football Team plays against the New York Giants at FedExField on November 8, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Washington drafted Chase Young with the No. 2 overall pick, making the first-round investment in a defensive lineman for a fourth straight year. The franchise also drafted defensive end, Ryan Kerrigan, in the first round nine years ago.

“It’s a very, very talented group,” Detroit offensive tackle Taylor Decker said.

Young, a defensive end from Ohio State, leads all rookies with 3 1/2 sacks this season. Montez Sweat, a first-round pick last year, leads the team with five sacks.

LAST CHANCE

If the Lions are going to turn their season around, now is the time. They’re facing three straight teams with losing records — Washington, Carolina, and Houston — before playing four straight teams that currently have winning records.

“There are still opportunities for us to do some great things to get this ship going in the right direction,” Peterson insisted.

 

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