The Detroit Lions were on a bye in Week 9 and that time away has allowed everyone to gain some perspective on where this team sits at the midway point of the 2023 season.
The Lions used the extra time to reflect and self-scout so they can make a strong push toward the playoffs in the second half of the season. At Pride of Detroit, we used the bye week to take stock of the team by examining who has impressed or underachieved through the first eight games and also gave readers a sneak peek at our newsletter’s mid-season positional grades, handed out by Jon Ledyard.
For the national power rankers, a week away from Lions football appears to have provided an opportunity for them to appreciate what Detroit brings to the table, as the majority of lists moved the Lions up in their rankings.
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: 4 (Last week: 5)
“David Montgomery could return in Week 10. He was playing very well before he got hurt, and he’ll return as rookie Jahmyr Gibbs is coming off a monster game with 189 yards from scrimmage. The Montgomery/Gibbs running back combination might not be great for your fantasy team, but it will be an elite combination for the Lions the rest of the way.”
The Athletic: 4 (Last week: 5)
“Report card: A-plus
“The Lions have gone from 3-13 to 9-8 to now 6-2 in head coach Dan Campbell’s three seasons. Detroit’s only two losses have come against Seattle and Baltimore, and it is second in the league in yards per game (390.6) and fifth in yards allowed per game (296.9). And this is not a team that has mortgaged its future. The Lions are eighth in the league in available cap space for 2024 ($73.3 million), according to Over the Cap.”
Sporting News: 5 (Last week: 6)
“The Lions were the other felines on a bye and can feel great about their chances to compete with the other NFC heavyweights in the second half and into the playoffs. But first they have work to do as the Vikings won’t go away.”
NFL.com: 5 (Last week: 7)
“The Week 9 bye allows for some unnecessary navel gazing, especially for a team that hasn’t won its division in 30 years. But seriously, look at the Lions’ remaining schedule: Five of the nine games are on the road, but only four games left are against teams currently over .500. Two of those games are against the Vikings, who no longer have Kirk Cousins. One is at New Orleans, where the Saints are 2-2 after struggling in a win over Chicago. The Lions also face the 2-7 Bears twice, plus the 3-5 Broncos. Detroit capturing the NFC North isn’t a fait accompli, but it’s getting there. Jahmyr Gibbs breaking out in their last game was a massive development, as he and the soon-to-return David Montgomery could be very important come playoff time.”
Pro Football Network: 5 (Last week: 7)
“The Lions aren’t the best team in the NFC, but they’re not far from it. Their loss to the Ravens was an eyesore, but we saw again this week what Baltimore does to NFC teams. Even with that embarrassing loss, Detroit ranked just outside of the top 10 in offense and inside of it on defense.”
ESPN: 5 (Last week: 8)
“Non-QB MVP: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
“The Pro Bowl receiver was named one of six team captains for the 2023 season and has continued to build on a great start to his NFL career. St. Brown might not be the most vocal person in the locker room, but his work ethic and production speaks for itself. He has five 100-yard receiving games this season, helping Detroit to a 6-2 start for the first time since 2014. He pushed through an illness to help the Lions beat the Raiders on “Monday Night Football” on Oct. 30 — finishing with six receptions for 108 yards. Performances like that one have inspired his teammates and the coaching staff. “That was not the best he’s felt, but like a true warrior he just sucked it up and he went,” coach Dan Campbell said after the game.”
Touchdown Wire: 6 (Last week: 8)
“Selfishly, I want the Lions to host the NFC Championship Game. What a cool story it would be for that team and that city, both of which are so easy to root for.”
MMQB: 6 (Last week: 8)
“The Lions were on bye just as Jahmyr Gibbs was rounding into form and just as my fantasy team desperately clung to his bootstraps in a desperate attempt to remain relevant. They come back a stronger unit, with their running back committee at full health and now more diverse and experienced. If I were the Chargers, I would dread getting Detroit on long rest.”
CBS Sports: 6 (Last week: 9)
“They come off their bye with a tough road trip to play the Chargers. They have to feel good about their first half in a lot of ways.
USA Today: 7 (Last week: 7)
“In the three games he’s started, rookie RB Jahmyr Gibbs has a league-best 132.3 yards from scrimmage per. Maybe keep him in the starting lineup even with war hammer RB David Montgomery set to return from a rib injury?”
The Ringer: 9 (Last week: 9)
Explanation was not updated.