The Detroit Lions (4-7) saw their three-game winning streak come to an end on Thanksgiving as they lost a close matchup to a very complete Buffalo Bills team. The national reaction is mixed—more positive than negative—but as is always the case, you can quickly tell which analysts watched the Lions play, and which are just reading stat sheets.
Let’s take a look at this week’s NFL power rankings.
The Athletic: 19 (Previous: 17)
“‘This isn’t the f—ing ‘same old Lions’ anymore,’ said left tackle Taylor Decker after the narrow Thanksgiving loss to the Bills. That’s true to some extent. Detroit is a decidedly average team, which is a real improvement over its feckless recent history. But the Lions also continue to find ways to lose games, as they did with Dan Campbell’s mismanagement of the final offensive drive versus Buffalo. If this is the year the Lions become respectable, expectations will be high for 2023. They’ll have two first-round picks, including the Rams’, and an opportunity to find their quarterback.”
The Ringer: 19 (Previous: 21)
“Detroit’s defense is reaching new levels of bad. In this season alone, the Lions rank 31st in points allowed per game and defensive success rate, and over the last two seasons, no team in the NFL has allowed more points (777). While rookies Aidan Hutchinson, Kerby Joseph, and Malcolm Rodriguez have all had flashes of success, glaring holes remain at every level of the defense. The Lions simply can’t afford to go into next season banking on the development of the younger players; they need to add significant upgrades at multiple defensive positions to turn their competitive against-the-spread record into actual wins in 2023.”
NFL.com: 20 (Previous: 18)
“The Lions continue to show they can hang with just about any team in the league. The next step is finding ways to beat the best. The Bills escaped Ford Field with a 28-25 win thanks to a Tyler Bass field goal with two seconds to play, and it was the Lions’ final drive minutes earlier that left fans playing the “What if?” game. Facing third-and-1 at the Buffalo 33-yard line with 32 ticks to play, Jared Goff spotted D.J. Chark with a step on his defender on a fade route, but the two were clearly not on the same page. Opportunity lost. ‘I told them this one should sting,’ coach Dan Campbell said. ‘We had a chance to win and we didn’t make it, but I don’t think this was a step backward. I’m frustrated, but we’re getting better.’”
Yahoo Sports: 20 (Previous: 20)
“The Lions wanted a better result on Thanksgiving, but being in a position to beat the Bills right until the end is ultimately a good thing for Detroit. Like last season, they’re playing better as the season goes on. They have some cornerstones like receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. The trick will be finishing well and then not starting slow next season.”
USA Today: 21 (Previous: 19)
“QB Jared Goff might be in the MVP conversation if he could play all his games at Ford Field – where he’d be projected to throw for nearly 4,400 yards and 43 TDs over 17 games with a 102.6 passer rating.”
CBS Sports: 22 (Previous: 20)
“They had their winning streak snapped on Thanksgiving, which means it’s all about next year for them. They’ve made outstanding progress this season.”
ESPN: 23 (Previous: 23)
“Realistic expectation: Doubling their win total from last season.
“The expectations were higher in Year 2 of the Dan Campbell era. Although they got off to a rough 1-6 start, lately the Lions have been among the hottest teams in the league, winning three of their past four games. The Lions might not finish at .500 this year, but they do have an opportunity to double their win total from 3-13-1 in 2021 to at least six wins this season, which is a big improvement as they continue to take steps toward their rebuild. Detroit has not won six games since 2018.”
Sporting News: 24 (Previous: 19)
“The Lions showed more of their offensive grit in their run-heavy attack around Jared Goff and the defense has proved capable of making some big plays at times. The rebuilding results already have a positive spin, no matter how they finish now for Dan Campbell.”
MMQB: 26 (Previous: 18)
“A narrow loss to the Bills ends a winning streak but doesn’t cool the Lions’ forward progress, in my opinion. Let’s see how they handle a team of equals in the Jaguars right now, before a Vikings showdown that will effectively end or prolong their season.”
Touchdown Wire: TBD (Previous: 23)
From Mark Lane:
Toouchdown Wire had not released their power rankings at the time of publishing. We will update once they become available.