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NFL Week 17 Power Rankings: Detroit Lions on the rise after winning division title

Checking in on where the Detroit Lions stand in the national rankings heading into Week 17 of the NFL season.

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Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Detroit Lions have locked up a spot in the postseason after clinching an NFC North title with a win over the Minnesota Vikings.

After working their way out of a late-season slump, the Lions have gotten themselves back on track and are stacking positive outcomes. Over the final weeks of the regular season, Detroit will be working towards playoff seeding—you can see all their potential outcomes with the odds of them landing at which spot here—but it’s important to not let this historical division title celebration party come to an end just yet.

In this week’s national power rankings, the Lions get a lot of love for their accomplishment and even move up a spot or two on some analysts' lists. So with that, let’s heed the words of Sheil Kapadia from The Ringer:

“Go ahead and celebrate the division title, Detroit. You deserve it.”

Sporting News: 4 (Last week: 4)

From Vinnie Iyer:

“The Lions got their running game rolling again in Minnesota to take pressure off Jared Goff, and even though their defense gave up some big plays, it came up with more in return to spark the taking of a first division title in 30 years. Detroit wants to keep its breakthrough momentum into the playoffs.”

CBS Sports: 4 (Last week: 5)

From Pete Prisco:

“They have won a division for the first time since 1993. They can now get ready for the playoffs, but they need to tighten up that defense.”

ESPN: 4 (Last week: 6)

From ESPN staff, excerpt from Eric Woodyard:

Best rookie: TE Sam LaPorta

“Straight out of the gate, LaPorta has been consistent and a safety net for quarterback Jared Goff. Detroit’s second-round pick is enjoying one of the greatest seasons in NFL history for a rookie tight end. He tied the single-game record by a rookie TE with three receiving touchdowns in the Week 15 win over Denver. Also, his nine receiving touchdowns are tied for the third most by a rookie TE in NFL history. However, this isn’t an easy choice with fellow rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs coming on strong and his usage increasing. The Lions are the second team in league history to have multiple rookies record at least nine touchdowns in a season, and the first since 1960.”

MMQB: 5 (Last week: 4)

From Connor Orr:

“The Lions have a division title for the first time since 1993. Sometimes, it’s important to peel back and recognize something truly phenomenal amid the hustle and bustle of an NFL season. Having covered the coaching industry deeply for the past few years, I can say that Dan Campbell was not viewed as a universal, slam-dunk hire. Credit to the Lions, who realized they had something special and were incredibly patient to see the full bloom.”

The Athletic: 5 (Last week: 7)

From Josh Kendall:

MVP: Penei Sewell

“This is probably blatant disrespect for Jared Goff, but the Lions have been built around a certain attitude, and nobody represents that attitude more than Sewell, the offensive tackle who came into the weekend as Pro Football Focus’ top-rated pass blocker and run blocker. Goff is having a great year, but we don’t think Detroit is third in the league in yards per game (394.1) without Sewell, who will have his fifth-year option picked up this offseason and then get paid after that.”

Touchdown Wire: 5 (Last week: 7)

From Jarrett Bailey:

“The Lions have won the NFC North for the first time, and it’s their first division title since 1993. Dan Campbell is certainly a candidate for Coach of the Year, and the fact that he accomplished this in just three seasons is incredible.”

USA Today: 5 (Last week: 8)

From Nate Davis:

“By now, you’re probably aware they’re division champions for the first time in 30 years. But did you know this is the first time in the franchise’s 94-season history that it’s managed 20 regular-season wins over a two-year period?”

NFL.com: 5 (Last week: 7)

From Eric Edholm:

“You just knew the Lions’ first NFC North title — which will give them their first home playoff game in 30 years — wouldn’t come easily. They had to fight and scrap for every drive in the thrilling win over the Vikings, benefiting greatly from four Nick Mullens interceptions (all of them on deep balls). But the Lions also deserve credit for those defensive stops, even if their down-to-down consistency was lacking and they had few answers for Justin Jefferson. Could they stand to tighten up on defense? Uh-huh. Will they take the game-changing turnovers, even while allowing chunks of yards? Absolutely. It also helps that the offense has multiple playmakers capable of being showcased in any given game. Rookie RB Jahmyr Gibbs atoned for his early fumble with 100 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns, as he and WR Amon-Ra St. Brown took over in the second half. A special season in Detroit will be extended by at least one game in January.”

The Ringer: 6 (Last week: 8)

From The Ringer collective staff, excerpt from Sheil Kapadia:

“Go ahead and celebrate the division title, Detroit. You deserve it.

“Do yourself a favor and consume every morsel of Dan Campbell content you can find this week. What a likable coach and what a likable team. The Lions took care of business against the Vikings to wrap up their first division title since 1993. Before the season, I wondered if the Lions had enough offensive playmakers. Now I look around and see them everywhere. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs is electric. Amon-Ra St. Brown had 12 catches for 106 yards against Minnesota. And they don’t have to rely on the same guys every week. Some games, it’s tight end Sam LaPorta or wide receiver Jameson Williams who comes up big. When playing indoors, Jared Goff and this offense can score on just about anyone. I still have serious questions about the Lions defense, but we can save those for another week. Detroit deserves to enjoy this.”

Yahoo Sports: 7 (Last week: 8)

From Frank Schwab:

“No matter what happens in a few weeks, don’t let it overshadow a cool and fun season for Detroit. The first division title since 1993 and the first home playoff game ever at Ford Field (opened in 2002) are reasons for celebration.”

Pro Football Network: 8 (Last week: 8)

From Dalton Miller:

“The Lions’ defense has no excuse for somehow turning Mullens over at every corner while also allowing the Vikings to consistently trot right down the field. However, they may have found themselves a player in Ifeatu Melifonwu, who has spent years playing in reserve in Detroit before being thrust into a starting safety role recently.

“It appears Detroit needs to play and win track meets. The defense simply does not seem capable of consistently producing stops.”

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.