The Detroit Lions (7-8) found a way to rebound from a 1-6 start to the season and have won six of their last eight games. But their most recent loss to the Carolina Panthers was a rough showing in all phases and it has left a bitter taste in the mouths of fans, analysts, and the team themselves.
“There was a lack of aggressiveness,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said on Monday. “There was a lack of finish. There was a lack of detail. Lack of discipline. There were a number of different things that showed up that were very uncharacteristic of how we (have) played, one of the reasons why we played pretty well. Some of that is the way you start. You get yourself in a bit of a hole and then some guys are trying to make plays and they’re making it worse by just not staying true to what their job description is.”
And while Campbell insists the team will have corrections made in time for this week’s matchup with the Chicago Bears, the national analysts in this week’s power rankings are placing the Lions based on the loss, so it’s not surprising to see them drop 1-5 spots in every ranking.
Let’s take a look at this week’s NFL power rankings.
NFL.com: 11 (Previous: 7)
“The Lions came down to Earth in grim fashion on Saturday, run over by a relentless Panthers attack in a 37-23 loss in Charlotte. The tone was set in the first drive as Chuba Hubbard and D’Onta Foreman ran through truck-sized holes in Detroit’s front seven. When it was over, the Lions had surrendered 320 ground yards (a Panthers record) and 570 yards overall. It was a terrible look for Aaron Glenn’s defense, which needs to flush this effort and get ready for Justin Fields and the Bears on Sunday. ‘That was a hungry team that we played,’ Dan Campbell said of the Panthers. ‘And we didn’t look as hungry. That’s the bottom line.’”
The Ringer: 12 (Previous: 11)
“Just as the Lions started to receive national attention for their high-scoring offense and an improved defense, the Panthers beat them to a pulp. Carolina rushed for more than 300 yards and averaged 7.4 yards per carry in an absolute bludgeoning of Detroit’s front seven on Saturday. It’s hard to buy the Lions as legit playoff contenders after such an embarrassing blowout loss.”
The Athletic: 13 (Previous: 8)
“Who mistakenly ordered the Lions defense from the first half of the season to show up to Charlotte on Saturday? Carolina rushed for 320 yards in its 37-23 “ass-kicking,” including 240 in the first half alone. “We weren’t physically, mentally, emotionally ready today,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said after the game. One emotional letdown can be forgiven, even if the Lions no longer control their own destiny. With a 33 percent chance to make the playoffs, per Mock’s projections, things could be setting up for a winner-gets-in showdown with the Packers in Week 18.”
Yahoo Sports: 13 (Previous: 9)
“Teams have bad games. Teams that start 1-6 can’t afford bad games if they want to make the playoffs. The Lions aren’t dead yet but Sunday’s loss at Carolina sets them way back. And teams with playoff hopes shouldn’t play as bad on defense as Detroit did on Sunday. It was a horrendous performance for a team that had played really well for about two months.”
ESPN: 13 (Previous: 12)
“Defining moment: The loss to the Dolphins on Oct. 30.
“After falling to 1-6, coach Dan Campbell knew he had to make some changes. So after losing to Miami, the Lions let go of defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant then traded Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson before going on to win six of their next seven games and making a late push for a playoff spot.”
USA Today: 14 (Previous: 10)
“Will the clock strike midnight for Cinderella before postseason begins? Saturday’s collapse at Carolina was a vivid reminder that no team in the league surrenders more yards or points than Detroit.”
Sporting News: 15 (Previous: 12)
“The Lions have been an explosive offense and have excelled as a home team this season, but their issues overall defensively and not being able to play as well on the road will likely cost them a playoff shot under Dan Campbell.”
MMQB: 17 (Previous: 12)
“A loss to the Panthers was gut-punching for so many reasons. The worst of which? A team that Dan Campbell tried to make unflappable in moments like this down the stretch was absolutely knived by the running game in a spot that seriously derailed their attempt to make the playoffs.”
CBS Sports: 18 (Previous: 15)
“Losing to the Panthers really dampens their playoff chances. The run defense really let them down at a bad time.”