ESPN has released its 2014 NFL Future Power Rankings. Rather than simply evaluate teams based on where they stand right now, the Future Power Rankings are an attempt to evaluate teams for the next three seasons. To do this, ESPN looked at five categories for each team: roster, quarterback, draft, front office and coaching. Ratings were handed out for each category, and they were then averaged and weighted to produce a ranking of the NFL's 32 teams.
For this year's edition of the Future Power Rankings, the Detroit Lions came in at No. 21. They were also 21st a year ago, and they were actually all the way up at No. 6 back in 2012. That was after they made the playoffs in 2011, so the future did seem quite bright for the Lions at the time, but they followed up that ranking by going 4-12 and 7-9. On paper, the Lions seemed to be set up for more playoff appearances in the coming seasons, but they weren't able to get the job done on the football field.
This year, the Lions stayed at No. 21 mainly because of question marks surrounding their front office and coaching staff. They received a solid 8.8 rating for both their quarterback situation and drafting, and they got a 7.8 for their roster. They only got a 6.8 for their front office, though, and ESPN gave the Lions a 6.6 rating for their coaching staff.
By comparison, the Green Bay Packers, which came in at No. 2 overall, got a 9.7 for their quarterback situation, a 9.0 for their coaching staff and an 8.7 for their front office. They only received a 7.9 and 7.7 for the roster and draft categories, but they are near the very top of the NFL thanks to Aaron Rodgers and the trust ESPN has in their front office and coaching staff. That's why the Packers are so much higher than the Lions despite having a similar roster rating.
By the way, the Chicago Bears came in 11th in the rankings, putting them second in the NFC North. The Minnesota Vikings are last in the NFC North at No. 26 overall.