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Detroit Lions outside linebacker DeAndre Levy (54) tackles Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Webb (14) to force a fumble on the last play of the game during an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. Detroit won 34-28. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

What unlikely NFL playoff contender has hurt itself most of the season with repeated penalties and a high incidence of personal fouls?

Has a no-nonsense pass rushing defensive front that is susceptible to the run?

Lost its most explosive running back and likes to throw the ball downfield?

It is the Raiders, who haven't had a winning season since 2002 when they went to the Super Bowl.

It is the Detroit Lions, who last had a winning season in 2000 (9-7) and haven't been in the postseason since making it as a wild card in 1999.

Two teams with a similar makeup will collide Sunday at O.co Coliseum, and the first 13 games of the season suggest long pass attempts interspersed with sacks, some breakaway runs and yellow flags aplenty.

Winning means staying in the playoff picture. A loss could be a death knell.

The Raiders, 7-6 after consecutive one-sided road losses to Miami and Green Bay, could technically remain in the AFC West race with a loss but aren't looking at it that way.

"The margin for error is gone," coach Hue Jackson said. "There is none."

The Lions (8-5) remain in the race for a wild-card berth with unbeaten Green Bay having locked up the NFC North.

"This game is not important to one team, it's important to both teams, and it's great for both teams and great for the fans to be able to watch it," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said by conference call.

Both coaches resist the comparison of their teams other than that they are fighting for the same thing in terms of playing beyond Week 17.

But the similarities are unmistakable:

  • The Raiders are first in the NFL in penalties (130) and penalty yardage (1,116), the Lions fourth in penalties (105) and third in penalty yardage (894).

    They tied for the NFL lead in personal fouls, with 27 each.

    Schwartz has espoused the same mantra Jackson has all season. Eliminate presnap penalties and composure errors, work on refining errors of aggression. He thinks officials will come in with no preconceived notions about the Raiders and Lions with regard to throwing flags.

    Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt isn't so sure.

    "Obviously the refs probably will be looking for things to call," Routt said. "We definitely have to play disciplined on Sunday."

    Jackson, according to quarterback Carson Palmer, "loudly" gave his team another lecture on penalties this week.

    "Whatever Detroit does, they're going to do," Jackson said. "We've got to handle our business."

  • Each player has a star defensive tackle who has been disciplined by the NFL. Oakland's Richard Seymour has drawn $37,500 in fines for two offenses, and Detroit's Ndamukong Suh is coming off a two-game suspension for stomping on an opposing offensive lineman.

  • Each team gets after the quarterback (the Raiders have 37 sacks, the Lions 35) and struggles defending the run (Oakland gives up an NFL-worst 5.2 yards per carry, the Lions a second-worst 5.1).

    Palmer and the Lions' Matt Stafford, considered excellent downfield passers, have looked at film and been reminded of their own defensive fronts.

    "Very similar. We're a lot bigger. They're probably faster, but as far as just having great players all over the place, both fronts are fantastic," Palmer said. "You can't think of two better fronts, I think, in the rest of the league."

    "We're attacking, not really reading up front, just going after it, similar to how they play," Stafford said. "They're big and physical like we are. I think you can definitely draw some similarities."

  • Oakland is facing its seventh consecutive game without Darren McFadden because of a severe midfoot sprain, and the loss of its most explosive runner-receiver has changed the offense.

    McFadden was injured Oct. 23, a week after the Lions' and former Cal star Jahvid Best suffered a concussion against the 49ers. Best was inactive for the next five games before being put on injured reserve, ending his season.

    "We are where we are and we've earned what we've gotten and we don't have a record as good as them," Jackson said. "We're coming to play this weekend, I promise you that."