Thursday night is the last opportunity for some players on Buffalo's roster to make an impact before Saturday's cut down day when the roster has to be reduced from 75 to 53 players.
"It's a critical game and we're going to get a chance to take long looks at some young players," said head coach Dick Jauron. "They're aware of this and we've been telling them all along, not only are they auditioning for us, they're auditioning for the league. Thirty-one other teams will study their films like we study everybody else in the league, and all of their personnel."
Just putting a good performance on tape can mean the difference.
"If you make plays, you may not be good enough to play for the team you're on, just because of their depth at certain positions," said Jauron. "But if you make enough plays and you're good enough to play in the league, people will find you."
That's how offensive lineman Dustin Dickinson chooses to look at it. Signed at the close of training camp due to injuries at offensive tackle, Dickinson has a chance to see a lot of snaps Thursday night at tackle.
"You've got to look at it as a huge opportunity, but at the same time you can't get overwhelmed with it," said Dickinson. "You've got to be calm and play football like you know how to play the game. That's my approach to it. It's business right now."
Receiver Justin Jenkins carved out a spot for himself on the roster last season thanks to solid special teams play and a standout performance in last year's preseason finale at Detroit. Jenkins led the team with five receptions for 56 yards and took some hard hits in the process.
"Whether I'm blocking for someone or making a tackle down the field on special teams or catching passes I want to make plays," said Jenkins. "Coaches always say whenever you have an opportunity to make the most of it so whatever I'm out there doing I'm just trying to make the most of the opportunity, make plays and stick."
Head coach Dick Jauron has elected to wait until game time to make all playing time decisions with respect to players coming off of injury and starters.
Trent Edwards, Duke Preston, Langston Walker and Jason Whittle will all be game time decisions Thursday night.
Derek Fine (thumb surgery), Matt Murphy (rotator cuff) and Derek Schouman (knee) are not expected to play.
Two players expected to return to the lineup Thursday night are Roscoe Parrish and James Hardy as both returned to practice earlier this week.
For Hardy any extra time he can get in a game setting prior to the home opener is a plus.
"It'll be huge," said Hardy. "I didn't play last week so I just want to come in and get the feel for it heading into the season opener against Seattle."
Detroit has had a very successful preseason thus far winning all three of their exhibition contests, making them one of only two teams in the league with an unbeaten preseason mark.
Even though the victories don't go in the win column the Lions believe it can only help them come the regular season.
"It doesn't count, but it does count because you're going and you're watching film and you're watching yourself put things together that will help you win football games when they do count. I think everybody is focused. We want to win whether it's a preseason game or whatever."
Defensively the Lions added four veteran free agents to their secondary in Leigh Bodden, Brian Kelly, Kalvin Pearson and Dwight Smith. The Detroit defense has been stingy in the preseason allowing only two touchdowns in three preseason games.
Offensively they've adopted a new zone running scheme which has worked relatively well as the Lions are fifth in total yards this preseason.
Jon Kitna has also adapted well to the new offensive system as he has completed over 85 percent of his passes (18-21) for 280 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 150.5.
But Kitna may not play at all Thursday night as there's a chance that backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky could get the start.
Speaking of quarterbacks the Lions signed free agent QB Drew Henson last Friday after losing QB Drew Stanton to a thumb injury that will keep him out for a month. It's unclear whether Henson will play Thursday night.
Lions TE Dan Campbell (hamstring) and RB Aveion Cason (ankle) are not expected to play. FB/TE Sean McHugh is questionable.
This is the 27th preseason meeting between the Bills and Lions and the seventh straight preseason in which the two clubs have faced one another.
The Lions lead the overall series with a mark of 15-11-1.
The Bills defeated the Lions in last year's preseason finale 16-13 at Detroit's Ford Field.
Bills on TV
The preseason finale against the Lions is a sellout and will be broadcast live in Buffalo on WKBW-TV Channel 7 and across the Bills television network.