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2023 NFL Week 1 power rankings: Are the Lions becoming ‘America’s Team’?

Checking in on where the Detroit Lions stand in the national rankings.

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Jacksonville Jaguars v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are preparing to kick off the 2023 NFL season on Thursday and the national media is rolling out their Week 1 power rankings ahead of the year.

Last season, the Lions opened up no better than 23rd in the initial 2022 season power rankings, with some outlets dropping them down to 27th overall. By the end of the season, the Lions had climbed into the top half of the league and most writers considered the Lions the best team to not make the playoffs—ranking them anywhere from eighth to 15th.

With another successful offseason in the books, and the Super Bowl Champions awaiting them in Week 1, let’s take a look at several national writers’ initial NFL power rankings for the 2023 season.

Yahoo Sports: 7 (Finished 2022: 8)

From Frank Schwab:

“I’m interested to see how rookie defensive back Brian Branch fits in the defense. There were good camp reports about him and he showed out in the preseason. We know the second-round pick can hit. He can add a much-needed element to the Lions’ defense, which needs to improve if the team wants to win the NFC North.”

Sporting News: 7 (Finished 2022: 13)*

Last updated on August 10

From Vinnie Iyer:

“The Lions are buzzing with their rookies and young players to build on a budding offensive and defensive core. A year removed from “Hard Knocks” and following a 9-8 finish, Detroit has given no reason to indicate that isn’t the new preseason favorite to win the NFC North under Dan Campbell.”

MMQB: 9 (Finished 2022: 13)

From Connor Orr:

“Due to NFL script-writing laws, only one of the two running backs selected in the first round of this year’s draft is allowed to be a massive success. Here’s hoping that Jahmyr Gibbs silently possesses a burning desire to have been selected by the Falcons—a deep, unknown love of the suburb of Alpharetta and its modest median home prices despite the wealth of square footage availability. And here’s hoping Gibbs takes that out on his opponents every Sunday, which will be great news for all fantasy folks who had to take Justin Jefferson with the No. 1 pick and then didn’t select again until pick No. 344, at which time Gibbs was the highest-rated running back available.”

USA Today: 10 (Finished 2022: 10)*

Last updated on May 3

From Nate Davis:

“Love their draft or hate it, you probably have to like them as divisional favorites coming off a season when they had the best record (5-1) in NFC North games.” 11 (Finished 2022: 9*)

*Note: Previous ranking from a different writer

From Eric Edholm:

“Even if the Lions aren’t quite as dynamic offensively as they were in 2022, it’s hard to imagine their defense isn’t vastly improved. Perhaps Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs pick away at them on Thursday night or, say, the Falcons (whom they play in Week 3) grind their way to success against Detroit. But top to bottom, this defense has added talent and depth during the offseason — which speaks to the Lions keeping 29 defenders on the initial roster. And just look where they’re coming from: Last year was a struggle, even accounting for some late-season improvement. More sacks and takeaways helped mask things in 2022, but now they have more impact players in the front seven and better coverage options in the back end. Can coordinator Aaron Glenn make it work with an aggressive, man-heavy scheme? I think so, even with some expected hiccups.”

ESPN: 11 (Finished 2022: 13)

From Eric Woodyard:

What do the Lions do the best? Score. Behind a strong offensive line, which is returning Pro Bowlers Penei Sewell and Frank Ragnow, the Lions averaged the fifth-most points scored (25.7) in 2022. They have added running backs Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery and rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, while returning wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and quarterback Jared Goff, who are looking to pick up where they left off after winning eight of their final 10 games last year.”

SB Nation: 13 (Finished 2022: N/A)

From Mark Schofield, Ricky O’Donnell, Joseph Acosta, and James Dator:

“All hail the Detroit Lions, winners of the NFL offseason and laying stake to the claim of being the true, “America’s Team”. Yes, the entire world is behind this year being the year of the Lions finally winning the division and returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, and it all starts on the offensive line. The group led by burgeoning superstar RT Penei Sewell is dominant in every aspect of the game, but they can get after teams in the run game. Add first round RB Jahmyr Gibbs and star WR Amon-Ra St. Brown on top of that and you have an offense that could crack the top ten in the NFL. Defensively, they’re young and have room for growth, but if pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson can become a true force against the pass then there’s room for optimism. New safety Brian Branch is already making waves in minicamp, and CJ Gardner-Johnson brings an edge to the DB room that they haven’t had in a while.

“Ultimately, how far this team goes lies on the right arm of Jared Goff. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson did a good job of coaxing him into attacking the middle of the field more, to great success, but for this offense to take off he has to be better in true dropback situations. Can Goff do that? It’s yet to be seen, but Lions fans are optimistic, for the first time in what feels like ages.”

Pro Football Network: 14 (Finished 2022: 12)

From Dalton Miller:

“The initial hype surrounding the Detroit Lions is gone. A surprising win against the Chiefs in Week 1 could have Detroit fans stitching up a divisional banner, but until then, it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. We still need to see Jared Goff show his play from a season ago is sustainable. We need to see that a group of receivers without a legitimate threat on the outside can be a threat through the air, and most importantly, we need to see this defense show marked improvement from a season ago.”

Touchdown Wire: 14 (Finished 2022: 11*)

*Note: Previous ranking from a different writer

From Jarrett Bailey:

“If you’re ready for playoff football in Detroit, give me a hell yeah. Stone Cold Dan Campbell and his pack of ferocious kneecap nibblers are my pick to win the NFC North this season. I love the way they attacked the offseason, adding several high-caliber free agent defensive backs after having one of the worst secondaries in the league. I know they were clowned for their selection of Jahmyr Gibbs so early on, but I think he is going to have a great rookie season behind one of the best offensive lines in football. Detroit is fun, they are America’s sweetheart team, but it’s not enough for fans to just be the lovable underdog- they have expectations now.”

The Athletic: 15 (Finished 2022: 15)

From Bo Wulf:

Best-case scenario: We all look silly for questioning the resource allocation of first-round picks on a running back and off-ball linebacker as Jahmyr Gibbs becomes the unstoppable Queen for offensive coordinator Ben Johnson to move around his chess board, and Jack Campbell brings a ferocity to the defense that makes the whole unit foam at the mouth like Dan Campbell himself. Behind what emerges as the best offensive line in football, the Lions dominate a weak NFC North and earn the No. 1 seed in the conference.”

CBS Sports: 15 (Finished 2022: 15)

From Pete Prisco:

“They are a trendy pick in the NFC North, but they have a lot of young players who have never won big games. That matters. They might be a year away.

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