Know how many times the Detroit Lions have posted a winning record in the NFC North?

They haven't. And that might help explain why they've struggled so mightily to reach the playoffs.

Of the 132 teams to make the playoffs since the inception of the NFC North in 2002 just seven had losing divisional records. That's 5.3 percent.

And that's what makes Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears so monumental even though it comes so early in the season. Detroit (2-1) will host the Bears (3-0) with a chance for a 3-1 start to the season an early share of the division lead -- and a 2-0 start to the division slate.

"It's a very big game for us" tailback Reggie Bush said. "We know what it means. We know what is at stake. This is a big game.

"It's as big as it's going to get. This is the biggest game of the season at this point."

The Lions have the fourth-best record in the NFC at this early juncture but have beaten teams that combine for a 1-8 record. This game will help vet whether they're contenders or pretenders.

A win would vault them into first place four games into the season something they've done just once since 2005. The lone exception was the 2011 season when the Lions burst to a 4-0 start and secured their only playoff appearance since 1999.

A win against Chicago would significantly bolster Detroit's chances of replicating those feats. It would be 3-1 and in first place heading into next week's difficult game in Green Bay.