After getting beat up on Thanksgiving Day by the Green Bay Packers, the Detroit Lions are taking another hit on Tuesday morning, this time from the national power rankers.
There are portions of the Lions fan base that are understandably concerned after a few games that were tighter than they should have been, but coach Dan Campbell attributes their struggles to the ebb and flow of the NFL regular season.
“There’s teams that will begin to rise and teams that will fall out of this. And I love our team,” Campbell said. “I love where we’re at and I know the guys that we have in the locker room, I know these coaches, so this will be good.”
While the Lions dropped in all the rankings we track, no surprise after a loss, they still land in the top eight of every list, with some even placing them as high as No. 5 overall—which is still a very good spot to be in entering Week 13.
Let’s take a closer look at this week’s national power rankings to see the rest of the explanations for why the Lions landed where they did on each ranker's list.
Yahoo Sports: 5 (Last week: 3)
“The poor outing against the Bears didn’t turn out to be a blip. The Lions have looked bad in two straight games, both at home against losing teams, and are lucky to be 1-1 out of it. It starts with being very sloppy with the ball and turning it over. The Lions have an easy schedule coming up and they’re unlikely to blow the division or anything, but that dream of getting the NFC’s No. 1 seed probably died with the loss to the Packers.”
MMQB: 5 (Last week: 4)
“I’m not going to penalize the Lions too much for getting sucker punched by a division rival on Thanksgiving. Most weeks, when a team rushes for 140 yards and has its quarterback post a no-interception, 100-plus QB rating game, they’re going to be OK. Of course, it’s when those occurrences are offset by three fumbles—and one gets returned for a touchdown—that those performances result in defeat.
The Athletic: 7 (Last week: 3)
“Best case: Super Bowl ring
“Even Jared Goff’s most ardent fans get nervous this time of year, and Goff wasn’t great Thursday against the Packers. Still, in an off game, he produced 332 yards, two touchdowns and a 103.6 passer rating. The Lions play the Saints, Bears, Broncos and Vikings (twice) down the stretch. If Detroit can get home-field advantage, it can make a run with this offense, which ranks second in the league in yardage (405.5).”
Pro Football Network: 7 (Last week: 3)
“Jared Goff is floundering. Goff is an excellent passer, but he cannot necessarily overcome a poor environment. He does a good job operating around the pocket and avoiding pressure, but he does not possess the ability to create. He’s turning the ball over too much, and those turnovers were a significant reason why Detroit lost again on Thanksgiving.”
ESPN: 7 (Last week: 4)
Special teams: 4
“The numbers tell a tale of two teams. For the second year in a row, the Lions’ offense is among the best in the league, averaging the second-most yards per game (405.5), while the defense ranks among the bottom — despite showing flashes of their potential. The Lions excel offensively with a plethora of options to score from rushing to passing, while the defense lacks in the secondary and pass rush, notably against mobile quarterbacks. The Lions are allowing their opponents to score a touchdown in the red zone 68.6% of the time — the third-worst mark in the league. Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp has the Lions performing among the best in that department with his coaching creativity. The Lions, who sit atop the NFC North, can still get better.”
USA Today: 7 (Last week: 6)
“They’ve surrendered nearly 100 points and more than 1,100 yards in the three games since their Week 9 bye. Hopefully Detroit’s D found the necessary adjustments in the post-Thanksgiving mini-bye as the team prepares to hit the road four of the next five weeks.”
CBS Sports: 8 (Last week: 2)
“They’ve had some issues show up in each of the past three games that could be their undoing, including a lack of pressure on defense. They have to get it turned around.”
NFL.com: 8 (Last week: 3)
“The lack of defensive plays hasn’t been a season-long issue, but it has become a more chronic one of late. Seeing that unit struggle to stop the Packers on Thanksgiving wasn’t a complete shock for anyone who has watched Lions football the past two months or so. What was stunning was the lack of pass protection for Jared Goff. Sure, the veteran QB was his own worst enemy and suddenly has become devastatingly turnover-prone, but the offensive line’s breakdown against Green Bay was a surprise if you’ve been attuned to Detroit. Is that the way it’s going to be from here on out? The truth is that the Lions can still lose a few games and win the division. But if they want to win their first playoff game in over three decades, these issues need fixing by January.
Sporting News: 8 (Last week: 3)
“The Lions were rare strong home favorites on Thanksgiving, only to meet a familiar losing result against the Packers. They are still looking good with the running game and underneath passing game, but Jared Goff is off when there are pressure leaks and the young defense is experiencing more breakdowns.”
Touchdown Wire: 8 (Last week: 4)
“The Lions got surprised by the Packers on Thanksgiving, and Jared Goff’s woes are becoming more frequent. Will they be fine? Probably, but they need to clean it up.”
The Ringer: 8 (Last week: 6)
“Quarterback Jared Goff has had three turnovers in each of the last games. He threw three interceptions in a narrow win over the hapless Bears in Week 11, and then he fumbled three times in a loss to the Packers on Thanksgiving. The reason for the uptick in turnovers isn’t surprising. He’s been pressured more lately, and his inability to handle the rush has been his Achilles’ heel throughout his career. He was pressured on 46 percent of his dropbacks in Weeks 11 and 12, which is a significant jump from 33 percent in Weeks 1 through 10. Nine of his 11 turnovers this season have come on pressured dropbacks; only Washington’s Sam Howell has had more turnovers when pressured than Goff this season. The Lions live and die by how often Goff is pressured and by the severity of his mistakes when he is inevitably under duress.”