You knew it was coming. After the Detroit Lions dropped a nationally televised game, and didn’t look particularly good doing so, the perception of the team took a hit.
The Lions, now comfortably eighth in the NFC playoff race, are universally accepted as a middle-of-the-road type of team. As you can see from the Week 13 power rankings below, every publication has the team within the five spots between 11 and 15.
SB Nation (“hope rankings”): 14th (down 4)
ESPN: 13th (down 1)
Washington Post: 15th (down 5)
Bleacher Report (Simms): 11th (down 1)
Yahoo! Sports: 13th (down 1)
USA Today: 15th (down 4)
CBS: 14th (down 2)
NFL.com: 14th (down 4)
That seems more than fair for a team that has proven they’re better than the lowest of the low, but hasn’t been able to hang with the best the NFL has to offer—aside from their road victory over the Vikings in Week 4.
This week, the Lions are facing a similarly mediocre Ravens team. Baltimore just picked up their sixth win as well, but there’s a little less certainty that they’re as good as the Lions. Of the eight power rankings we tracked, four have the Ravens ranked higher than the Lions, and four have them ranked below.
Much like Detroit, Baltimore has proven themselves better than the poor teams in the NFL, with wins over the Browns, Bengals, Raiders, Dolphins, Texans and an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers team. But they haven’t yet found that defining win over a good team. They were dominated by the Jaguars and Steelers, and couldn’t squeeze by the Titans or Vikings.
So Sunday’s matchup looks like mediocre vs. mediocre. But with both teams still very much in the playoff race, they’ll be equally hungry for a win.