The Detroit Lions (1-2) were in control of their game against the Minnesota Vikings but a couple of late decisions by coach Dan Campbell put the team in a difficult spot that they were unable to recover from.
Some national analysts are holding Campbell’s feet to the fire over his decision-making and have adjusted their rankings accordingly. While several national analysts liked Campbell’s aggressiveness throughout the game and believe the team can overcome the late-game mistakes in the future.
In the end, we get a mixed bag of opinions and a set of rankings that reflect that. In this week’s power rankings, we see opinions ranging from placing the Lions 14 to 28, with some analysts dropping the Lions a few spots, while others kept them the same or even moved them up in their rankings.
Let’s take a look.
USA Today: 14 (Previous: 14)
“Look who’s pacing the NFC in scoring at 31.7 points a week. Detroit had scored a touchdown in every quarter this season before failing to get the one it really needed in Sunday’s fourth period at Minnesota.”
MMQB: 15 (Previous: 12)
From Conor Orr ($ubscription required):
“The Lions are second in the NFL in scoring, eighth in EPA per play, and 11th in EPA per dropback. Jared Goff, week in and week out, is a win-with starter. I’m more impressed by that than worried about Dan Campbell’s game management right now.”
The Athletic: 15 (Previous: 14)
“D’Andre Swift’s injury might keep him out of the Lions’ next two games, head coach Dan Campbell said, which would set him up to return after the team’s Week 6 bye. With Swift, the Lions lead the league with 5.9 yards per carry and probably should be 2-1. Campbell opted to attempt a 54-yard field goal on fourth-and-4 with a three-point lead and just over a minute remaining. The kick missed and the Vikings quickly went down the field for a game-winning score. Campbell has been generally aggressive on fourth downs during his coaching tenure but has had no consistent philosophy. Ben Baldwin’s fourth-down calculator rated that situation as an easy go-call, which Campbell admitted after the game he should have done.”
NFL.com: 16 (Previous: 16)
“Dan Campbell owned it. Facing a fourth-and-4 in Vikings territory with a chance to ice a huge road win by securing one more first down, the Lions coach shifted away from his aggressive strategy and sent out the kicker. One miss and a busted coverage later, and Minnesota had stolen a 28-24 win from Detroit. “I regret that decision 100 percent,” Campbell said. “I really do. I hate it. I feel like I cost our team. I really do, man.” The strange thing? Campbell repeatedly left his offense on the field in similar situations on Sunday, converting first downs on four of six fourth-down tries. The coach got cold feet at the wrong time.”
Yahoo Sports: 19 (Previous: 21)
“The Lions blew it on Sunday. They should have gone for it on fourth-and-4 with a little more than a minute to go but decided on a 54-yard field goal instead, a decision Dan Campbell said he regrets. This is where the Lions’ history is a problem. Other teams can lose a game like that and while it stings, it doesn’t follow them. It’ll be hard for Detroit, which deserves much more than its 1-2 record right now, to not slip into the mindset that they’re just the same old Lions.”
The Ringer: 21 (Previous: 25)
“Detroit is one of four teams, along with the Falcons, Dolphins, and Texans, this season that’s undefeated against the spread entering Week 4 and nearly pulled off a road upset over the Vikings as six-point dogs on Sunday. The bright spots are head coach Dan Campbell (duh), receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, cornerback Jeff Okudah, and a menacing offensive line. Jared Goff is playing with confidence and making the sporadic highlight-reel play, but he ranks bottom-10 in PFF’s grades and 25th in EPA per clean dropback (.08). Eventually the Lions will need more from a QB than the ability to cover the spread.”
Touchdown Wire: 24 (Previous: 20)
“The Lions appeared to get on track with a win over Washington in Week 2, but they are still having trouble winning close games. If the Lions can ever stack wins, it will validate the Dan Campbell way and the Lions could be a tough matchup that teams won’t be able to count on for an easy win.”
ESPN: 25 (Previous: 20)
“Team QBR: 63.7
“QBR rank: 7th
“Jared Goff has only one victory to show for it in three games, but he has appeared much more comfortable in his second season with the Lions under new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. With more talent around him, Goff helped the Lions reach an NFL record with a touchdown in 11 straight quarters — the most to begin a season in league history. The team still must find a way to close games, but Goff certainly isn’t the problem as he’s playing much better football than he did last year.”
Sporting News: 25 (Previous: 21)
“The Lions will be involved in plenty more exciting close games because of an explosive offense but their defense always be a major liability behind Aidan Hutchinson. There’s difference between being competitive and actually consistently winning.”
CBS Sports: 28 (Previous: 26)
“They had no business losing that game to the Vikings. This is a team that has to learn how to close out games.”