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Golden Tate: Playoffs short-lived if Lions don't improve

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The sixth-seeded Lions are tasked with mowing down three consecutive opponents on the road if they wish to reach Super Bowl XLIX.

Wideout Golden Tate says that isn't happening at their current level of performance.

"If we play the way we have the last few weeks, this playoff run will be short-lived," Tate said ahead of Sunday's wild-card showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, per the Detroit Free Press. "So we've got to make sure we're on our game. We've got some guys in here that know what it's like to be a champion and know what it takes to go deep into the playoffs."

Tate pointed to running back Reggie Bush and safeties James Ihedigbo and Glover Quin -- along with coach Jim Caldwell -- as figures who have successfully made the march from January into February.

"They're all really letting the young guys know how important this is," Tate said. "This isn't just the regular season anymore. The picture's way bigger. We have the personnel to go deep."

It helps that Detroit on Sunday will have the services of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who saw his one-game suspension reduced to a $70,000 fine on Tuesday. His addition to the lineup boosts a nasty Lions defense that includes linebacker DeAndre Levy and pass rusher Ziggy Ansah. The Dallas offensive line -- the NFL's best -- is in for its stiffest test of the year against a Detroit unit that ranks second in points and yardage allowed per game and first overall against the run.

That puts the onus on a Matthew Stafford-led offense that is running the ball more effectively of late but ranks 22nd in the NFL in scoring. There is little proof to suggest that Detroit can keep up with Dallas if this turns into a shootout.

After all, the Cowboys averaged 41.3 points per game during their four-win December, a monthly output topped by only the Broncos in September of 2013 (44.8), the Patriots in October of 2007 (43.4) and the Rams in October of 2000 (42.5) over the past 50 years.

Such lofty company suggests Dallas has the offensive firepower to make a serious run at the Super Bowl. Getting past this gritty Lions defense will serve as a juicy first test.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses Monday's fired coaches and the effect of Ndamukong Suh's rescinded suspension. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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