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NFL Week 17 power rankings: Lions recognized for a willingness to fight

Exploring how the national media views the Lions after a 20-16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

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NFL: Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions (2-12-1) lost again, but the general theme among the national analysts this week is that the loss doesn't matter much at this stage of the season, because this team has proven it will fight hard for coach Dan Campbell, and that will set them up for the future.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what the national media had to say about the Lions. 28 (Previous: 27)

“The Lions are going to give you everything they have for 60 minutes. We saw it again on Sunday, when Tim Boyle — subbing for Jared Goff (COVID-19) — marched Detroit to the Falcons’ goal line late in the fourth quarter before throwing a game-sealing interception. Some Lions fans will take the crushing loss in exchange for the improved chance at the No. 1 overall pick. Detroit currently sits at No. 2 in the 2022 NFL Draft pecking order, one half-game ‘behind’ the Jaguars. Something tells us Dan Campbell will bite the kneecap of any person who so much as whispers ‘tanking’ around him.” — Dan Hanzus

Yahoo Sports: 28 (Previous: 28)

“Again, the Lions played hard. A late interception by replacement QB Tim Boyle ruined their hopes of a win at Atlanta, but it was another commendable performance from a team that doesn’t have the talent to win yet. There are teams — like Matt Patricia’s Lions — who don’t like their coach and check out. That’s not the case in Detroit this season.” — Frank Schwab

CBS Sports: 29 (Previous: 29)

“Without Jared Goff, they competed against the Falcons on the road. It’s another good sign for Dan Campbell.” — Pete Prisco

MMQB: 29 (Previous: 25)

“The Lions are better than three other teams! At least in my book. They fought the whole season when they could’ve packed it in.” — MMQB rotating series, Mitch Goldich ($ubscription required)

ESPN: 31 (Previous: 29)

Non-QB MVP: LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin

“This isn’t an obvious choice, with more notable names on the roster, including running back D’Andre Swift, tight end T.J. Hockenson and even rookie wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown. However, Reeves-Maybin is a player who exemplifies the culture of hard work and tenacity that first-year Lions coach Dan Campbell is trying to build in Detroit for the future, which is why his bigger role on defense this season has been so valuable. In fact, Reeves-Maybin was the first name to pop into Campbell’s mind when the coach was recently asked for some of his most valuable players throughout the season. “I know he missed a couple of games here due to injury, but when he’s been out there on defense and on special teams, he just makes plays,” Campbell said. “He’s a football player, and that doesn’t go unnoticed.” — Eric Woodyard

USA Today: 31 (Previous: 29)

“The best thing they’ve done in 2021 is assemble an imposing offensive line – put a pin in ‘Assembly Line’ – that should quickly be reflective of the culture head coach Dan Campbell is trying to establish.” — Nate Davis

Washington Post: 31 (Previous: 29)

“The Lions were without QB Jared Goff but still had their chances Sunday at Atlanta before a late interception thrown by fill-in QB Tim Boyle sealed the outcome in the narrow loss. Give Coach Dan Campbell and his players credit for remaining generally competitive in the late stages of a season in which going 0-17 once seemed possible.” — Mark Maske ($ubscription required)

Sporting News: 31 (Previous: 31)

“The Lions got their wins out of the way and went back to more disappointment on the road minus Jared Goff against a “good bad team” in Atlanta. Dan Campbell has maxed out for Year One.” — Vinnie Iyer