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Notes: PFF data analysts believe Lions are the best team in the NFC North

Newer data reveals a better team as more of the bad stuff from last year fades away.

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Kansas City Chiefs v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Eric Eager at Pro Football Focus had very encouraging words to say about the Lions in the PFF Forecast prior to Week 4. “I think they’re what the Vikings want to be. . . I think the Lions are a better version of the Vikings.” That is a hell of a characterization, considering what many of us on the Pride of Detroit staff thought about the Minnesota Vikings roster at the start of the season.

On the show, his co-host George Chahrouri took in the argument (around 35:27 in the embedded video). “When you told me this yesterday, I thought you were out of your mind, and then I thought about it, and I agree with you. I think this is perhaps your best take of the season. I’m on board - this is the most counterintuitive thing I think I could imagine hearing three weeks into the season, and I one hundred percent agree with you.”

Now that we have the result of Week 4 in the books, Eager has laid down in writing a declaration that the Detroit Lions have made their case for being the NFC North’s best team. Although a PFF Elite membership is required to read the whole article, Eager makes the point that:

Our underlying metrics and simulations haven’t caught up to this truth, as we have the Lions with just a 17 percent chance to win the division through four weeks (ahead of Minnesota, but trailing Green Bay and Chicago). A lot of this is due to prior information, which will be regressed away in increasing fashion as the season progresses.

This makes absolute sense from a data analyst perspective, since updated information based on this year’s team will outweigh and displace older information from 2018 in the models as it becomes available. There is a lot of really thoughtful stuff in the piece, with much praise for Darrell Bevell’s offensive changes and some great performances in the secondary.

Hopefully the team keeps it rolling against the Packers coming out of the bye week. Now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:

  • Tim Twentyman at the official Lions site listed five players who have impressed him so far this season, focusing on some offensive players and two defensive backs who have stepped up to the plate.

  • A great message:

  • Matthew Stafford will be there for you, ‘cause you’re there for him too:

  • Lauren Williams at heard from linebackers coach Al Golden that the Detroit faithful should watch for more out of rookie Jahlani Tavai after the week off.

Detroit Lions’ Darius Slay and his mom will be surprising 40+ firefighters and police officers in Detroit Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for Campbell’s Chunky
  • Jeff Risdon at The Lions Wire had a chance to talk to shutdown man Darius Slay about soup, competition among the Lions’ defensive backs to excel, the new pass interference review rules, and more.

  • Seems legit:

  • Kellen Moore has not been around these parts for a while, and has made quite a name for himself as offensive coordinator in Dallas. What else has he been up to? As noted by Ian Rapoport, the former Boise State star has been... doing car commercials in Idaho?

And now, keeping the gags running with fellow Boise State alum Leighton Vander Esch:

  • While we are on promotional appearances, not long ago the Lions’ current starting quarterback did another spot for the St. Joseph Mercy Health System:

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.