PONTIAC, MICH., DEC. 9 -- The Los Angeles Raiders, whose play is perhaps the benchmark of smash-mouth football, are making the high-tech Detroit Lions a little envious.
When the Lions opted for the run-and-shoot offense last year, it resulted in a lot of your basic behemoths being replaced by a bunch of smurfs. The Raiders, like most NFL teams, have hung with the big guys.
"They get right up in your face," Lions quarterback Rodney Peete said. "The Raiders make you accept the challenge."
The Lions (4-8) host the Raiders (8-4) Monday night in the Silverdome.
"They're very similar to the Chicago Bears," Peete said. "They basically line up with four down people. They believe they can line up and get you."
The Raiders, battling the Kansas City Chiefs for the lead in the AFC West, have an NFL-best 28-6-1 in Monday night games. The Lions are 7-7-1 in Monday night games.
If the resurgent Raiders beat the Lions, they'll have won as many as nine games for the first time since 1985, when they were 12-4. That was the last time they made the playoffs.
"The Raiders are a great football team," Detroit Coach Wayne Fontes said. "They may be the most physical football team we play this year. The players emulate their coach and the type of player he was and the type of Raider teams he played on."
Raiders Coach Art Shell says that's no accident. It's one of the reasons the Raiders made him the ninth coach in club history on Oct. 3, 1989. Shell, one of the greatest offensive tackles in pro football history, spent 15 years in the trenches for the Raiders.
During that time, Shell started in Super Bowl XI and XV wins and was named to the Pro Bowl eight times, the most of any Raider.
"We take pride in our Monday night record," said Shell, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989. "We like to show what we can do on national television.
"When I played, we really looked forward to Monday night football. You didn't want to look bad. You knew a lot of your peers were watching around the country."
This season the Raiders got off to a quick start, winning six of their first seven games. They've lost three of five since then, but the games were all close and the Raiders showed the grit of some of those old squads Shell played on when they beat the Broncos 23-20 in Denver last week.
"They're getting there," Shell said. "I've told them all along how good they are. It's a matter of them getting it all together and believing it themselves. There's a lot of talent on this team.