Not many teams in the NFL finished hotter than the Detroit Lions. In the final 10 weeks of the regular season, only the Bengals (8-0), 49ers (9-0), and Chiefs (9-1) finished better than Detroit’s 8-2 record—and all three of those teams ended up making the Conference Championship round of the playoffs.
The Lions punctuated their 2022 season with a statement win over the division-rival Green Bay Packers, who were in a win-and-in scenario for the playoffs. Detroit has now won seven of their last eight divisional games, and could even potentially head into the offseason as favorites to win the NFC North—a feat they’ve literally never accomplished.
With two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a healthy salary cap, it’s easy to see how the Lions could get even better in 2023. But what do the national pundits think?
Now that the Super Bowl is over, many outlets have put out their initial 2023 NFL power rankings. Let’s take a look at where the Lions stand.
ESPN: 12 (up 1)
“Offensively, there aren’t many holes to fill on the Lions’ roster, but defense is a different story. After their first winning season since 2017, the Lions will have to rely on getting some game-changers in the draft with two first-round picks. Statistically, the Lions ranked in the bottom tier of nearly every major category on defense, including points allowed per game, in which they were tied for 28th (25.12 points PPG).”
MMQB: 12 (up 1)
“The Lions did not make the playoffs, but our panel does view them as a top-14 team in the league. Expectations will be much higher next season for the feel-good team that charged into contention late in Dan Campbell’s second season.”
Yahoo Sports: 6!!! (up 2)
“The Lions will be bringing mostly everyone back next season, which is exciting after the way Detroit ended the season. This will be everyone’s hot pick to win the NFC North and maybe more next season.”
CBS Sports: 14 (up 1)
“This young team will challenge for the division title in 2023. They improved in a big way this past season.”
NFL.com: 9 (N/A)
“The Lions have our attention and their opponents’ respect. Now what? The biggest decision could be at quarterback: Jared Goff has been everything the team could have asked for since coming over from the Rams in 2021, but the Lions also hold two first-round picks, including the sixth overall selection, in the 2023 NFL Draft. Goff is the logical choice to remain under center after leading one of the NFL’s top offenses in 2022, but will Detroit be able to resist the temptation to bring in a top college passer if opportunity knocks? The most prudent move might be spending premium draft capital on a defense that could use help at linebacker and in the secondary.”
Touchdown Wire: 12 (N/A)
“Do the Lions dare upgrade at quarterback? Jared Goff looked like his old self with Detroit, who is starting to take on the persona of coach Dan Campbell. Leaving Lambeau Field with a win and keeping the Green Bay Packers out of the postseason may be a heck of a touchstone for the Lions throughout the offseason. It shows that Campbell’s way works.”
Pro Football Network: 11 (N/A)
“The fighting Dan Campbells were a treat to watch this past season. Behind a good offensive line and revamped receiving corps, the Lions’ offense rode an efficient Jared Goff all the way to offensive excellency. With Ben Johnson returning to Detroit, it’s likely we see further offensive success next season.
“With two first- and second-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Lions could throw assets at the secondary in what looks to be a strong cornerback class. A slightly improved defense and Year 3 under Campbell could be the best season Detroit has had since joining the NFC North.”