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Tuesday open thread: Where would you rank the Detroit Lions in the NFC, NFL?

The Lions currently rank 9th in the NFC by record, but where would they rank by how they’re playing right now?

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are suddenly all the rage with the national media. They’re a media darling because they’re an incredible story: after a 1-6 start, the Lions won five of their last six games and took down a couple of playoff contenders in the process. If they can somehow manage to run the table in their last four games, there’s a pretty good chance this Cinderella story continues into the postseason.

But sometimes the national media overcompensates for the lack of attention they gave a team before the start of a hot streak. That seems to be the situation with some Lions takes coming out of the woodwork on Victory Monday. For example, NFL Network’s Kyle Brandt called the Lions a top-eight team in the NFL and a top-three team in the NFC. ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky said something similar on Monday morning.

That seems like a bit of an exaggeration for a young team that is still learning and growing on the job...

... or is it?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Where would you rank the Lions in the NFC? NFL?

My answer:

I know there are going to be a handful of you that say, “You are what your record says you are.” To which I say: boring and wrong. That suggests no teams improve as the season goes on, and the Lions are clearly not the same team that racked up six losses before Halloween. Come on. Have a little fun.

Let’s start with the NFC. It goes without saying that the Philadelphia Eagles are above the Lions. I think the Dallas Cowboys—despite their Week 14 scare—are also comfortably above Detroit. They’re a well-rounded team with an elite defense, and they already beat the Lions this year—although both teams have drastically improved since that game.

After that, it does, indeed, get a little tricky. Detroit split their games against the Vikings but honestly outplayed Minnesota for seven of eight quarters. Advantage: Lions.

The 49ers have won six straight, and are doing so despite the mounting injuries on the offensive side of the ball. But how good are they truly going to be with rookie quarterback Brock Purdy and possibly without Deebo Samuel? Hard to say, but that team ranks third in DVOA and has shown they can win with mediocre-to-bad quarterback play. I have them above the Lions.

The Seahawks beat the Lions earlier in the year, but are they still the better team? Detroit’s defense has improved drastically since that game, and the Seahawks have suddenly lost three of their last four? Tough to say, but I’m giving the edge to Detroit.

Then there are the Commanders. Detroit easily handled them early in the season, but like the Lions, Washington has grown as the season went on. They’re 6-1-1 in their last eight, but their only truly impressive win is over the Eagles. I’m still going to give the Lions an edge here, but it’s close.

To me, every other NFC contender—Giants, Buccaneers, Panthers, Packers, Falcons—are all clearly a step below the Lions.

So that puts the Lions fourth in the NFC, behind the Eagles, Cowboys, and 49ers.

As for the entire NFL, I would add the Bills, Dolphins, Bengals, and Chiefs from the AFC as better than the Lions right now. The Ravens, Jets, and Chargers are all probably in the conversation, too, but I’ll take the Lions over them right now.

Put it all together and I have the Lions as... wow... the eighth-best team in the NFL?

That sounds ridiculous just typing it out, but...

Your turn.

Poll

Where would you rank the Lions in the NFC?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    1st
    (61 votes)
  • 3%
    2nd
    (48 votes)
  • 16%
    3rd
    (259 votes)
  • 34%
    4th
    (524 votes)
  • 15%
    5th
    (244 votes)
  • 8%
    6th
    (128 votes)
  • 17%
    7th or lower
    (275 votes)
1539 votes total Vote Now

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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.