I just can’t seem to let go the Detroit Lions loss to the Steelers on Sunday.

First off, I am one of the biggest Lions fans around.

Shawn Livererance Column logoI have stuck with them through the good times (very few) and the bad times (about 43 of my 48 years)

So, what I concluded after Sunday’s loss not only pains me, but will pain my diehard Lions friends as well.

Sorry everybody, but this Lions team is not going to make the playoffs.

You are probably saying, wait a minute, they are tied for the division lead with the Bears with six games remaining.

Yes, they are currently tied atop the NFC North, but let’s take a closer look at these Lions.

This team has been given a golden opportunity to take control of the NFC North, but they continually shoot themselves in the foot.

How can the Packers, losers of three straight and without Aaron Rodgers, be only a game back of the Lions?

The Lions needed to take control of their division, but realistically, they could be tied for second with the Packers if they had not pulled out that miraculous win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Sunday’s loss to the Steelers was particularly discouraging as they had a chance to really take control of the division with a win.

They would have been a game ahead of the Bears, but would have been really two games up with their two wins over the Bears.

It also would have put the Packers two games back.

But, as in typical fashion, the Lions couldn’t take advantage on Sunday against the Steelers.

How can a team score 27 points in a quarter and not score again?

Or allow a 3-6 Steelers team to move up and down the field in the second half?

This Lions team has more than enough talent to be a playoff team.

With the best receiver on the planet, a talented offense with the addition of Reggie Bush and a defensive front that should dominate every game, how are they struggling to stay in first place instead of battling for homefield advantage in the NFC?

My conclusion is it comes down to coaching; Jim Schwartz is not the answer for this Lions team.

Explain to me the fake field goal attempt?

You have not moved the ball at all in the second half and you pass on an opportunity for a sure three points.

There is no reason with the offense the Lions have that their biggest margin of victory this season is by 14 points over the Browns.

Too many close games against teams they should handle easily.

I put that directly at the feet of Schwartz and his staff.

Like I said, this team is too talented to be fighting for a playoff spot and that is exactly what they are doing.

And Lions fans, let’s be realistic.

If they don’t win the NFC North, they are not going to make the playoffs.

Take a look at the NFC playoff contenders and the Lions earning a wild card spot is not going to happen.

Seattle and the Saints are a lock to make the playoffs and the Panthers are the hottest team in the league with six straight wins and are only a game behind the Saints.

That leaves the 49ers, Bears and Lions as the most likely teams to earn the second wild card spot, but don’t count out the Eagles or Giants … both are on winning streaks.

What looked like an easy schedule down the stretch for the Lions is anything but that now.

This week’s opponent, Tampa Bay, has won two straight and the Packers are eyeing Rodgers’ return on Thanksgiving.

A three-game stretch against the Eagles, Ravens and Giants now looks very daunting as all three teams are playing much better.

So, if the Lions want to make the playoffs, they’ll have to win the NFC North title.

And I don’t see that happening.

A promising start is a distant memory now as these Lions have squandered a golden opportunity to make a statement and prove they are a playoff caliber team.

But, as we have come to expect as Lions fans, we know what the outcome will be.

Another Lions season without a playoff berth and another season that leaves all of us saying once again, “Maybe next year.”