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Week 7 power rankings: Lions viewed as a top-2 team in NFL, ‘this team is for real’

Checking in on where the Detroit Lions stand in the national rankings after Week 7 of the NFL season.

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NFL: Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Congratulations Detroit Lions fans! We’ve made it to the point where when a national power rankers list the Lions outside the top 5, we can be legitimately mad about it. Quite a swing in perspective from years past.

The Lions (5-1) are among just five teams with the best record in the NFL and are coming off their fourth consecutive win of 14 or more points, where they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-6 on their home turf.

For some, this was a statement win for the Lions. Going on the road to face a team in first place in their division, overcoming key injuries, and still winning by two touchdowns, was enough to prove the Lions are legitimate contenders. In these situations, Detroit was vaulted into the top group of their rankings.

For others, their rankings are coming dangerously close to putting an asterisk on the Lions record because ... well, it’s not really clear.

Let’s take a look at how the Lions' win over the Bucs altered the national writers’ NFL power rankings in Week 7 and maybe you can ascertain why certain adjustments were made.

USA Today: 2 (Last week: 3)

From Nate Davis:

“They’re indeed in rare air – one more win would make them 6-1 for the first time in the Super Bowl era (since 1966). And while it can be dangerous to look too far ahead, even for a team on a four-game heater, there don’t appear to be many losses on the other side of Detroit’s Week 9 bye. And if their RB room gets healthy, and WR Jameson Williams continues morphing into the weapon he was intended to be? Roar.”

Yahoo Sports: 2 (Last week: 6)

From Frank Schwab:

“The Lions got one big play out of Jameson Williams. But it was a huge one, a 45-yard touchdown on third-and-10 that put the Lions in control of the game. They’re deep enough that they don’t need anything else from Williams, a 2022 first-round draft pick. They need him to be a threat and make an occasional big play. If he can do that, the Lions’ offense can go to an even higher level.”

The Athletic: 3 (Last week: 4)

From Josh Kendall:

Who’d you beat?: Chiefs, Falcons, Packers, Panthers, Buccaneers

“The Lions, who are 13-3 in their past 16 games, have won four consecutive games by 14 or more points, which is their longest such streak since 1969. The offense is leading the way, but the run defense is sneaky good (second in the NFL, allowing just 3.3 yards per game).

“Detroit jumped Philadelphia this week because its win against the Chiefs is more impressive than anything the Eagles have done this year. (For now, we’re willing to overlook the fact that Detroit’s win against Kansas City came with both Travis Kelce and Chris Jones out.)”

CBS Sports: 3 (Last week: 5)

From Pete Prisco:

“Going on the road and limiting Tampa Bay to no touchdowns is a big day for their defense. This team is for real.”

Pro Football Network: 3 (Last week: 6)

From Dalton Miller:

“The Lions are very real. Before their dominating performance against the Buccaneers, they ranked eighth in offensive EPA and 10th in defensive EPA. The offense seems to just now be hitting their groove, and this defense is significantly better than a season ago. They’re playing as a top-three team in the NFC, and they are one of the best teams in the NFL.

“They’re now sixth in offensive EPA and seventh on defense. Their offensive line is dominant, their quarterback is playing incredibly well, and Ben Johnson will likely be a head coach somewhere next season.” 4 (Last week: 5)

From Eric Edholm:

“It feels like the Lions suffer a “wow, they can’t really lose that guy” type of injury every game or two. In the win over Tampa on Sunday, it was David Montgomery. With Jahmyr Gibbs already inactive, that meant Detroit went the distance with Craig Reynolds and Devine Ozigbo in the backfield. But the Lions just sort of figure out games like puzzles, and they’re getting good at it. Jared Goff is such a trusted caretaker — and playmaker — at this point that they were still able to lead three scoring drives after Montgomery left. And the defense! They’ve been dealt a few tough injuries but continue to deliver statement performances. My guess is the unit’s performance Sunday more than atoned for any irritation Dan Campbell felt over allowing two fourth-quarter touchdowns to the Panthers in Week 5.”

Sporting News: 5 (Last week: 5)

From Vinnie Iyer:

“The Lions roared well on the road back in old NFC Central country in Tampa Bay. They proved they can get the job done with young defense when getting limtied pop from their offense.”

ESPN: 5 (Last week: 5)

From ESPN staff, excerpt from Eric Woodyard:

Lesson learned: The Lions might be for real.

“There was a ton of hype surrounding this team entering the season, based on how the Lions finished last season winning eight of their final 10 regular-season games, and they have picked up right where they left off. Detroit has started 5-1 for the first time since 2011, winning four consecutive games by double digits for the first time since 1991. The offense is averaging the fourth-most points per game (28) and the defense is allowing the seventh-fewest yards per game (285.5). The team is looking to change the losing narrative surrounding this franchise, and coach Dan Campbell has a lot to do with that.”

Touchdown Wire: 5 (Last week: 6)

From Jarrett Bailey:

Bah Gawd that’s Jared Goff’s music!

“Goff has been dealing this year. He has a passer rating of 105, he’s thrown for over 1,600 yards, and has 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions. This Lions’ defense has come alive, as well. These are not your father’s Detroit Lions. Or your grandfather’s. Or your great-grandfather’s- this team is a viable threat.”

The Ringer: 6 (Last week: 6)

From The Ringer staff, excerpt from Danny Kelly:

“No team has better vibes right now than Dan Campbell’s club. That’s particularly true for Detroit’s high-octane offense: Under coordinator Ben Johnson, Jared Goff has revived his career helming an extremely fun, creatively schemed unit that spreads the ball out to an exciting group of playmakers and scores points in bunches. The Lions extended their league-best streak of 20-plus-point games this week to 15, dispatching a plucky Buccaneers squad along the way to move to 5-1. The Lions’ depth at running back will be tested over the next few weeks since David Montgomery suffered a rib injury in the win, but that loss could give Jahmyr Gibbs more opportunities to show off his big-play potential, assuming the rookie returns to the lineup. Detroit’s defense has been carrying its share of the weight too, and pass rusher Aiden Hutchinson (who ranks second in pressures in the NFL, with 36, per PFF) is leading the way.”

MMQB: 7 (Last week: 4)

From Connor Orr:

“I thought the Lions’ defense was very impressive on Sunday and stymied what I felt was going to be a game-altering Tampa Bay drive before the half. The most important part of this game, though, was watching Jared Goff muster enough of a scoring offense to succeed when the running game was completely blanked. The Lions had not rushed for fewer than 100 yards in a game all season. On Sunday, they managed only 40. Like with the 49ers, we were able to see what Detroit looked like with one hand tied behind its back.”

BONUS: Seahawks Wire ranks Lions No. 1

From Tim Weaver:

“The Detroit Lions (+2) look like the most impressive team in the league this year not counting the Niners and are a deserving No. 1 team after dismantling a relatively tough Tampa team (-3) on Sunday.

“Detroit is winning thanks to excellence in all three phases, but it would all be for nothing if not for a massive rise by quarterback Jared Goff. Over the last 17 games – or the equivalent of a full season – Goff has posted nearly 4,500 passing yards, 29 touchdowns and just four interceptions, while the Lions have gone 13-4 in that stretch. Those are legitimate MVP-type numbers and speak to a stunning coaching job by Dan Campbell and his staff.”

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