Viewers are bound to see the defenses of the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers make plays on Sunday. Unlike the Lions this season, the contestants in Super Bowl XLVII ranked in the top 10 in takeaway differential this season, which helped propel them to the big game.

One year after finishing fourth in takeaway differential, the Lions were second-to-last in the category this season. The ball just never seemed to fall into the defense's hands. In 2011, the Lions' defense had 34 takeaways. In 2012, it had 17.

"The turnover ratio is really out of whack and a lot of it is because we didn't get any," general manager Martin Mayhew said this month. "Now, for instance, some of our guys, like a guy like Cliff (Avril), we didn't play with a lot of leads.

"And we played with some leads last year, so we had some opportunities really to tee off and get our pass rush going and everybody could just cut loose and just go. We didn't have as many of those. That may have been a reason for some of the decline in sacks and quarterback fumbles. But our guys in the (secondary) didn't make enough plays."

Mayhew focused on the lack of production from cornerbacks and safeties, but few players on defense made splash plays consistently. With the NFL Combine looming, free agency and then the draft, Mayhew surely will have his eyes peeled.

"But we need good players, we need impact players, especially on the back end of the defense," he said. "We need guys that can impact the game.