The Detroit Lions handled the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 9, winning 26-14 in a game that was clearly not as close as the score suggests. This latest win takes the Lions record to 6-2 on the season and they are firmly second place in the NFC, only trailing the 7-1 Eagles.
Yet, despite being universally praised for getting back on track after their Week 8 loss to the Ravens, some of this week’s national rankings don’t line up with the praise.
For example, one publication called the Lions victory “a statement win on Monday Night Football,” then proceeded to drop them in their rankings. Another publication called the Lions win “dominant,” then they too, dropped the Lions a spot.
Maybe this is a case of rankers writing their articles before “Monday Night Football” and then not bothering to make updates following the game, but if we’re being honest, some of the teams ranked ahead of the Lions seem to have ended up there based on preconceived notions.
For example, the San Francisco 49ers (5-3) have lost three games in a row but they remain ahead of the Lions in most rankings. The Bengals (4-3), Cowboys (5-2), and Bills (5-3) each have multiple bad losses on their resume, yet they also regularly show up ahead of the Lions.
Let’s take a closer look at this week’s national power rankings to see the explanations for why the Lions landed where they did on each ranker's list.
Yahoo Sports: 5 (Last week: 6)
“Jahmyr Gibbs went off for 189 total yards. Every week, it seems the Lions’ ceiling gets higher. And if you take a look at the Lions’ easy remaining schedule, much like the Jaguars in the AFC, they’re positioned very well to make a run at a No. 1 seed.”
The Athletic: 5 (Last week: 6)
“Something scary (for others): A playoff game at Ford Field.
“There has never been one. The last time Detroit hosted a playoff game was on Jan. 8, 1994, and their home field was the Pontiac Silverdome then. The Silverdome has since been demolished, and General Motors doesn’t even make Pontiacs anymore. But the Lions are good again, and their home field was raucous for “Monday Night Football” as rookie Jahmyr Gibbs had a breakout game with a season-high 152 rushing yards. Imagine it for a playoff game. The Eagles should make sure the Lions stay in their rearview mirror.”
Sporting News: 6 (Last week: 7)
“The Lions stumbled for a second time this season against the Ravens in Week 8 after losing earlier to the Seahawks. They got well with everything, especially the running game and defense, vs. the Raiders at home on Monday night.”
USA Today: 7 (Last week: 6)
“Their fourth consecutive prime-time win, extending to last season’s regular-season finale, is their best since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970. Monday night’s win was Detroit’s first under the lights at Ford Field since 2018, and it happened in dominant fashion as the Lions outgained the Raiders by more than 300 yards.”
NFL.com: 7 (Last week: 7)
“After the blowout loss at Baltimore, I thought the Lions were poised to come out on Monday night and blow the roof off Ford Field. Instead, Detroit’s drives repeatedly bogged down in Las Vegas territory, making the game a lot tighter than it should have been. Three Lions turnovers, including a brutal, 75-yard pick-six, also allowed the Raiders to hang around. Credit Aaron Glenn’s defense for consistently harassing Jimmy Garoppolo; third-year DT Alim McNeill might be a Pro Bowler. Meanwhile, No. 12 overall pick Jahmyr Gibbs enjoyed a breakout game (189 yards and a touchdown on 31 touches), serving as Detroit’s offensive engine with David Montgomery sidelined by injury. The Lions had to shuffle some pieces on the offensive line, but the results were great, as Gibbs and Craig Reynolds really carved up Las Vegas’ run defense. Not the prettiest win, and you can bet Dan Campbell rues the sloppiness, but it was an important victory after the Lions’ credentials were questioned a bit last week.”
Pro Football Network: 7 (Last week: 8)
“The Lions were embarrassed by Baltimore a week ago, but the NFL finds a way to humble even the best in the league. In the end, Baltimore was better that day, and sometimes a team is a bad matchup for another.
“They needed a clean win against the Raiders to get back into the good graces of evaluators after losing handily to Lamar Jackson and Co. a week ago. As long as the Lions remain healthy, they will walk away with the NFC North.”
MMQB: 8 (Last week: 7)
“After allowing the Raiders to hang around for a half, the Lions reclaimed their ability to suffocate opponents on the ground. Jahmyr Gibbs has never looked more comfortable, and we are starting to better understand the breadth of his move set. I have not seen a rookie running back move as well in heavy traffic as Gibbs, who has the heavy shoulder to gain the extra yard, but can also pick up extra grass with a subtle head move and upfield cut. Credit to the Lions offensive staff and Gibbs, who worked through some early discomfort.”
Touchdown Wire: 8 (Last week: 8)
“Hyperbolic statement alert: The Lions’ 2023 draft class may go down as one of the best of all time. Sam LaPorta and Jahmyr Gibbs are already out of this world, and they will only get better. This team shook off the embarrassment of last week and they are legitimate threats.”
ESPN: 8 (Last week: 9)
“Team QBR: 67.6 (5th)
Goff is in the midst of one of the best stretches of his career with the Lions atop the NFC North standings. Lions general manager Brad Holmes has surrounded the former No. 1 overall pick with many new players, including rookie tight end Sam LaPorta and running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Goff has 2,174 passing yards and 12 touchdowns to five interceptions through the first eight games. He said his game has evolved with more reps and by maturing as a player since arriving in Detroit in 2021.”
CBS Sports: 9 (Last week: 8)
“They bounced back in a big way against the Raiders, although they did leave points on the field. Against a good team, that will kill them. Jahmyr Gibbs was outstanding.”
The Ringer: 9 (Last week: 8)
“A statement win on Monday Night Football.
“Hello, Jahmyr Gibbs! Fantasy football managers can (finally) stop complaining now that the Lions rookie running back has had his breakout game, rushing for 152 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders on Monday night. Gibbs also caught five passes for 37 yards. This was the type of dynamic production the Lions thought Gibbs was capable of when they, surprisingly, took him at no. 12 in April’s draft. But Gibbs was hardly the Lions’ only star who emerged in prime time. How about defensive tackle Alim McNeill, who had two sacks, had two tackles for a loss, and was credited with a pass breakup? That’s an unreal stat line for a 315-pound interior lineman!”