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Week 4 NFL Power Rankings: Lions finally gaining respect... with a loss?

After taking the Falcons to the wire, the Lions turned some heads this week.

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NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no such thing as a moral victory in the NFL. It doesn’t matter if the Detroit Lions were inches away from from taking down the reigning NFC champions, because at the end of the day, the game still goes down as a loss.

However, that doesn’t mean that people won’t take notice of your team. Last week, the Detroit Lions beat the New York Giants on a national stage, and the media shrugged their shoulders. The Giants were the story of the night, not the Lions.

But after their highly-publicized heartbreaking loss to the Atlanta Falcons, suddenly the Lions were the talk of Sunday, and this week’s power rankings reflect that. Not only did most publications move the Lions up after their 26-30 loss to the Falcons, but now they’re in the top five of a few lists. Take a look.

SB Nation (“hope rankings): 3rd (up 4)
ESPN: 8th (up 4)
Washington Post: 9th (down 1)
Bleacher Report (Simms): 6th (up 2)
Yahoo! Sports: 13th (up 2)
USA Today: 4th (up 6)
CBS: 14th (down 4) 4th (up 4)

The Lions jumped four and six spots respectively, to end up in the top five of SB Nation’s and USA Today’s power rankings. Even ESPN couldn’t deny the Lions’ competitiveness on Sunday, moving them back into the top 10 this week.

It appears the media was holding back on the Lions until they faced some true competition, and now that they’ve proven they can hang with the league’s best, they’re ready to admit Detroit belongs in the conversation.

This week, the Lions will have another prove-it game as they face a tough divisional game on the road. The Minnesota Vikings are riding high after a complete dismantling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were a team that many picked to be a legit NFC contender this year, and the Vikings did it with their backup quarterback.

After that big win, the Vikings are also a team with a lot of buzz around them. Here’s where they rank after three weeks of play.

SB Nation: 14th
ESPN: 11th
Washington Post: 13th
Bleacher Report (Simms): 7th
Yahoo! Sports: 11th
USA Today: 13th
CBS: 7th 9th

Now a consensus top-half team, the Vikings are looking to make that next step in respectability this week. Whoever comes out victorious between the Lions and Vikings will not only be atop the NFC North rankings, but will likely contend for a spot amongst the top 10 or five in Week 5’s power rankings. Game on.