Someone better check the local water supply, because it’s tainted with Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid.
The Detroit Lions are surging of late, and with five games left to play, the hype is off the rails. Not only did the Lions beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, they did so in dominant fashion. The offense was flawless, never punting a single time on the day. The defense was stout for most of the game, only giving up a single touchdown towards the end of the third quarter. Even the special teams was a bright spot, with Michael Badgley going a perfect four-for-four and Justin Jackson creating some solid kick returns.
The key issue with the Lions early in the season was inconsistency. The offense played lights out the first few weeks, but the defense was invisible. During the few games where the defense actually fought tooth and nail, the offense was inept. It looked like the Lions were doomed to continue their trend of mediocrity.
Perhaps it was a healthier roster. Perhaps it was the firing of Aubrey Pleasant. Perhaps it was Jeremy Reisman’s moustache. Either way, something changed for the Lions at the end of the October and the team has hardly looked back.
It all started with a defensive shutdown of the Green Bay Packers. The following week, the team rallied against
the Chicago Bears Justin Fields to secure a hard-fought win. They followed that up with a rout of the New York Giants. Even though Thanksgiving ended with a loss to the Buffalo Bills, it was a close game against one of the best teams in the league, an outcome that exceeded most expectations. Adding in this beatdown of the Jaguars, and the Lions have played some incredible football these previous five weeks.
The Lions might be 5-7, but they have looked far more dangerous than their record indicates. Yet how does this stack up against the rest of the NFL?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Are the Lions the hottest team in the NFL?
My answer: No, but I think you could make an argument for them being in the top five.
Looking at the NFC alone, the immediate teams that jump out are the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Both teams have won three games in a row, and both had dominant Week 13 outings as well. The Eagles throttled the Tennessee Titans, improving their record to 11-1 as the uncontested top team in the NFL. The Eagles did lose to the Washington Commanders in Week 10, but I would still consider them the hottest team in the league. The Cowboys, meanwhile, defeated the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night thanks to a massive 33-point fourth quarter, notching themselves a Scorigami to boot. The Cowboys have three losses on the year, but an explosive offense combined with a stellar defense is not to be trifled with.
The team with the longest win streak happens to play in the NFC as well, but they might be a tough team to judge going forward. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, but they lost quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the season in the process. Seventh-round rookie Brock Purdy looked decent in relief, but the loss of a starting quarterback is never an easily hurdle to overcome. The 49ers have the weapons on offense and defense to survive, but it’s hard to call them a hot team going forward.
The Minnesota Vikings are technically a top team in the NFL, but if you have been following anyone in the Vikings fandom, you’d know that it has been a roller coaster 10-2 season. A lot of their games have come down to the wire, and given how unpredictable one-score games are, there is a element of luck to Minnesota’s wins—I still can’t get over Buffalo fumbling a quarterback sneak for a Vikings touchdown.
As for the AFC, there are a few contenders for the title of hottest team. The Cincinnati Bengals have the longest win streak, having knocked off another top team, the Kansas City Chiefs. Elsewhere, the previously mentioned Bills continue their torrid pace, looking like the Super Bowl favorites they were envisioned to be. You could make an argument for any of these teams to be atop the list of best in the conference.
That being said, the best team isn’t necessarily the hottest team. Being the hottest team means playing your best football right now. In vacuum, if you could play any team in the NFL, which ones would you fear to play the most? On paper, I think most people would rather play Detroit than Kansas City or Cincinnati. Yet looking at recent results, Detroit is an intimidating opponent, especially in contrast to their early-season form. To me, I’d call them one of the hottest teams in the league.
Are the Lions overperforming? Perhaps. That being said, Detroit is a team I would be fearful of playing right now. When things are clicking—and they’re clicking right now—the Lions boast a surprisingly talented roster. Players on every side of the ball are making plays. The team as a whole is riding high after an incredible month.
I would put Detroit as the fifth-hottest team in the NFL. I give Philadelphia and Dallas the nod in the NFC, and Buffalo and Cincinnati the nod in the AFC. I think Kansas City is a better team than Detroit, but I’m not sure they’re playing their best football right now—though that might be a testament to how good the Chiefs have been in the past.
What do you think? Are the Lions the hottest team in the NFL? And if they aren’t, where would you rank them?
Are the Lions the hottest team in the NFL?
This poll is closed