In 2023, the Detroit Lions have won games in a variety of ways. There have been games, like against Green Bay and Las Vegas, where the defense has taken over. Others, like in Tampa Bay, where the passing game led the way. The running game was dominant against the Panthers and Raiders. And everything clicked on offense—both passing and rushing—helping the defense overcome a bad showing in Los Angeles.
Overall, the Lions have shown they match up well with just about everybody and when one part of their team struggles, they have enough talent and depth throughout the rest of the roster to overcome almost any obstacle.
This realization has started to show up in analysts perspectives and the Lions continue to rise in the national power rankings. In fact, nine of the 11 rankers we track have the Lions firmly in the top five, and over half believe the Lions are the No. 3 team in the NFL.
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: 3 (Last week: 4)
“This is how you know the Lions are rolling on offense: They had a pass play called on Sunday but the wrong personnel was on the field. They needed two tight ends for the called play but somehow they had only one on the field. So Jared Goff changed the play at the line to a run, and David Montgomery went for a 75-yard touchdown.”
The Athletic: 3 (Last week: 4)
“Coach status: Safe
“All the kneecap-biting jokes were on us. Plenty of people wrote off Dan Campbell after his bombastic introductory news conference, but he’s 15-4 in his last 19 games. The Lions went for it on fourth down five times Sunday against the Chargers and converted four times, including an early fourth-and-5 with a run play and then on fourth-and-2 with 1:47 left in a tie game when in field goal range. Converting that last one allowed Detroit to run the clock down and kick the game-winner as time expired. “He’s got big …” (confidence, let’s say confidence), quarterback Jared Goff said after the game.”
Sporting News: 3 (Last week: 5)
“The Lions are becoming like the Eagles, and that’s what makes them the second-best team in the NFC. They can win shootouts with Jared Goff, Amon-Ra St. Brown and their passing game. They also can dominate with the running game. They can win with offense or defense. Dan Campbell is coach of the year.”
Pro Football Network: 3 (Last week: 5)
“Congratulations are in order for the Lions. They decided that defense would be optional against the Chargers, but they got away with it. Jared Goff was great, and the Lions’ rushing attack had a field day against the Chargers, who also decided that defense was optional.”
Touchdown Wire: 3 (Last week: 6)
CBS Sports: 3 (Last week: 6)
“The offense was special against the Chargers, but the defense didn’t show up. At 7-2, they are in the thick of the chase for the top seed in the NFC.”
NFL.com: 4 (Last week: 5)
“Let’s talk about the offensive line. It’s admittedly difficult to incorporate significant OL analysis here weekly, mostly for space reasons. But units that dominate like the Lions’ O-line did on Sunday deserve the ink. Starters Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow, Graham Glasgow and Penei Sewell played every snap and turned in a nearly clean sheet; Detroit allowed zero sacks and eight pressures total on 33 Jared Goff dropbacks. RBs David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs averaged 7.4 yards per carry and scored TDs of 1, 1 and 75 yards between them. Short-yardage, long-yardage — it didn’t matter. Outside of one Decker penalty wiping out a TD on the Lions’ first possession and a goal-line stop in the second quarter, this unit dominated a good Chargers front for 60 minutes. And it’s why I believe Detroit will be an extremely tough playoff out if the defense gets back in order.”
ESPN: 4 (Last week: 5)
“Biggest remaining game: Week 17 at Dallas
“The Lions top the NFC North standings and have a fairly smooth schedule for the remainder of the regular season, against mostly teams with subpar records. Detroit’s annual Thanksgiving game vs. Green Bay should be fun, and Week 16 at Minnesota could be for a divisional title, but the Lions’ most significant game will be on the road at Dallas in a prime-time matchup on ESPN on Saturday, Dec. 30, as they’re also vying for a top seed in the NFC to lock down a home game in the postseason for the first time in Ford Field history.”
MMQB: 4 (Last week: 6)
“Inspired football on Sunday by the Lions, a team that again cracks our top four (much to the joy of Lions nation). Dan Campbell continues to coach with an unwavering belief in the product he’s putting on the field, which will inevitably suit Detroit when the going gets tough in the playoffs. This has been a masterclass in self-awareness, humility and not coaching scared.”
USA Today: 6 (Last week: 7)
“Funny to watch Dan Campbell beat the Bolts’ Brandon Staley at the analytics game with his bold but successful decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 with 1:47 left Sunday prior to Detroit’s game-winning FG. “(H)e’s got big (guts), and he showed it there,” QB Jared Goff said of his coach. (Though, in retrospect, does Staley ever win the analytics battle?)”
The Ringer: 8 (Last week: 9)
“The Lions offense is absolutely firing on all cylinders.
“This week was a homecoming of sorts for Jared Goff, who returned to L.A. to play in SoFi Stadium for the first time since 2021 and led the Lions to an exciting 41-38 win over the Chargers. Goff’s familiarity with that field from his time playing with the Rams may have helped him put nagging road woes behind him for at least one game. The Lions signal-caller—whose numbers have been dramatically better at home than away during his time with the team—completed 23-of-33 for 333 yards and two touchdowns to spearhead a resplendent performance from Detroit’s offense. The Lions racked up 533 yards in the game and averaged 8.3 yards per play, with Amon-Ra St. Brown (eight catches for 156 yards and a touchdown), David Montgomery (12 rushes for 116 yards and a score), and Jahmyr Gibbs (14 carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns) all creating big plays. It wasn’t exactly a sterling defensive showing by the Lions in this one, but Detroit’s offense—which now ranks fourth in DVOA—keeps showing that it has many ways to beat opponents.