The Detroit Lions (5-7) have been rolling over the last five weeks. They have won four of their last five games, only losing to AFC leading 9-3 Buffalo Bills in a game that was decided in the final minute. Offensively, they just hung 40 points on the Jacksonville Jaguars, their defense has made drastic improvements, and they are currently favored by 1.5 points over the 10-2 Minnesota Vikings in this Sunday’s game.
The Lions’ playoff chances are still slim, but with every win, those odds increase as does their national recognition. Let’s take a look at this week’s NFL power rankings.
The Athletic: 15 (Previous: 19)
“Make the playoffs: 16.2 percent
“Win the Super Bowl: 0.6 percent
“Find out just how good the offense can be. Detroit ranks ninth in offensive DVOA following its 40-point outburst in Sunday’s jubilant win over Jacksonville. Amon-Ra St. Brown had another big day with 11 receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns, while Jared Goff threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions are not dead yet in the playoff chase and probably have the best vibes of any sub-.500 team. With Jameson Williams making his season debut in a limited capacity, Detroit has a chance down the stretch to find out just how explosive it can be. All the more important with the Rams’ first-round pick at its disposal.”
Yahoo Sports: 16 (Previous: 20)
“Imagine if the Lions had beat the Bills on Thanksgiving. That game that was tied until the final few seconds. As it stands, the Lions aren’t totally dead in the NFC playoff race, which is impressive after a 1-6 start. Detroit is playing very well.”
NFL.com: 17 (Previous: 20)
“This offense is for real. That was a clear takeaway as the Lions went up and down the field on the Jaguars in a 40-14 rout at Ford Field — Detroit’s fourth win in five games. Detroit has been scoring all season, of course, but the version of Ben Johnson’s attack that we saw Sunday carried with it an air of long-term sustainability. There’s more explosiveness in the mix when D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown are healthy, and strong protection up front has allowed Jared Goff to be the most efficient version of himself. After the dust cleared, Goff — who played on some superpower Rams teams in an earlier NFL life — called Sunday “as complete a team win as I’ve ever been part of.” Dan Campbell is doing the damn thing.”
The Ringer: 18 (Previous: 19)
“The Lions have won four of their last five games and are playing their best football of the season right now. Headlined by WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and RB Jamaal Williams, the offense ranks sixth in points per game and EPA per drive. They can play bully ball with the best of them behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, and St. Brown has quickly become an essential cog in a surprisingly potent passing attack. In the nine games in which St. Brown has played more than 25 offensive snaps, the Lions are third in EPA per pass play. It all might be a moot point in terms of playoff contention for this season, but for the first time in a long time, the Lions are playing well in December.”
USA Today: 18 (Previous: 21)
“Despite a horrendous start to the season, the remaining schedule very much suggests this surging squad should get to eight or nine wins ... which might allow them to sneak into postseason.”
CBS Sports: 19 (Previous: 22)
“Don’t look now, but the Lions are still alive in the playoff race after dominating the Jaguars. The offense is good and the defense is better than it’s been. Now they face a big game with the Vikings.”
ESPN: 20 (Previous: 23)
“We’re No. 1 in... red zone efficiency.
“The Lions are pretty much money on the goal line, thanks to the strong rushing attack spearheaded by the backfield of Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift. The Lions are scoring touchdowns in the red zone 73.9% of the time. Williams also leads the league in total rushing touchdowns with 14 on the season as the team’s preferred goal line threat, which has become a well-oiled machine when they need points.”
MMQB: 20 (Previous: 26)
“The Lions put up a whopping 40 points on the Jaguars Sunday, further elevating offensive coordinator Ben Johnson into one of the few no-brainer slots for vacant head coaching positions (both those that are actively open and ones to come).”
Sporting News: 22 (Previous: 24)
“The Lions roared at home offensively like they’ve done many times this season but Aidan Hutchinson and the young defense also flashed some big moments in a potential shootout. Jared Goff still has them alive for a playoff berth.”