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NFL Week 18 power rankings: Mixed reactions after latest Lions controversy

Checking in on where the Detroit Lions stand in the national rankings heading into Week 18 of the NFL season.

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Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions’ controversial loss to the Dallas Cowboys has sparked a lot of opinions throughout the league, and in this week’s national power rankings, you can see a variety of responses.

Some national analysts liked what they saw from Detroit and moved them up in their rankings, while others were less sympathetic and moved them down. Several kept them in the same spot they were in previous weeks and others elected to ignore the controversy altogether.

While Lions fans won’t soon be able to forget this latest installment of frustration with the NFL and their referees, it’s also probably best to heed the words of coach Dan Campbell and redirect their attention to what’s coming next.

“I get it, but don’t do that. Don’t buy into that,” Campbell said fans believing the NFL is out to get Detroit. “Don’t live in that world, man. That will just pull you down. And if it makes you feel any better, the NFL is against every team, alright. [...] We haven’t even started the tournament. So, I think it’s a blessing. And I would tell fans, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t even believe that.’ We’re just getting started.”

MMQB: 3 (Last week: 5)

From Connor Orr:

“Sadly, another botched (or seemingly botched) call at a high level for NFL officials marred the ending of Saturday’s game. If I were to bet whether Dan Campbell, a former player, as calculated as they come, or an NFL officiating crew made this mistake, I know exactly where I’m placing my money. Still, 11–5 is a tremendous accomplishment. Now, it’s time for the Lions to make some noise in the postseason. It’s unlikely they’ll grab the No. 2 seed, but a date with whoever the heck crawls out of the abyss to earn the No. 7 seed would be preferable to taking on the red-hot Rams right now.”

ESPN: 4 (Last week: 4)

From ESPN staff, excerpt from Eric Woodyard:

Biggest offseason contract to watch: QB Jared Goff

“Goff is signed through 2024 and could become an unrestricted free agent in 2025, so the Lions will need to decide what to do with the veteran quarterback. He has led the Lions back to relevancy, winning their first division crown since 1993, while reaching 4,000 passing yards on the season for the fourth time of his career. It would make sense to lock down Goff, but the question is whether it will be for the short term or long term. He has taken ownership of Detroit’s offense while revitalizing his career in the process.”

The Athletic: 4 (Last week: 5)

From Josh Kendall:

The lesson: NFL Draft maxims are flawed

“Remember all the grief Detroit got for taking running back Jahmyr Gibbs at No. 12 and inside linebacker Jack Campbell at No. 18? Since Week 14, Gibbs is ninth in the league in rushing (72.25 yards per game). Campbell is second on the team in tackles for the season (77). Tight end Sam LaPorta, the No. 34 pick, hasn’t been bad either, catching 81 passes for 860 yards and nine touchdowns. (Sorry about the ref thing guys. We hope leaving you ahead of the Cowboys in these rankings makes it all better.)”

Touchdown Wire: 4 (Last week: 5)

From Jarrett Bailey:

No commentary was given.

Sporting News: 5 (Last week: 4)

From Vinnie Iyer:

“The Lions looked dead in Dallas until a late rally with their defense and big pass plays. They are pushing hard to go into the playoffs with momentum, hosing their first postseason game in 30 years. They need to stay sharp with Matthew Stafford and the red-hot Rams looming for them.”

USA Today: 5b, of note, Dallas was 5a (Last week: 5)

From Nate Davis:

“Did they really lose Saturday? Regardless, this is a team capable of doing serious damage in the postseason … if its players are, ahem, eligible to do so.” 5 (Last week: 5)

From Eric Edholm:

“The Lions are licking their wounds after the hotly debated two-point play and are now left to wonder what might have been. If they’d beaten the Cowboys, they’d have had a shot to play for the NFC’s top seed in Week 18. They’re still guaranteed at least the No. 3 seed and a home playoff game, but the loss to Dallas hurts immensely. Once more, this group’s resilience will be tested. There is so much to be encouraged by, as the Lions have withstood a number of challenges this season, and they’ll be a tough playoff out, especially in Detroit but even if they have to go on the road, where they’re 6-3 this season, with some quality wins. Dating back to Week 9 of last season, this team’s record is 19-7. Dan Campbell and Jared Goff have answered far more questions than they have not. The issue now is whether this team is capable of making a Super Bowl run. In an NFC field where every top contender has had a shaky patch this season, I’ll still give them an outside shot right now.”

Yahoo Sports: 5 (Last week: 7)

From Frank Schwab:

“Most likely, the Lions get the No. 3 playoff seed in the NFC. They have no shot at the No. 1 seed and the bye. This is a great opportunity for head coach Dan Campbell to rest starters. But does Campbell seem like the type of coach who would sit anyone?”

The Ringer: 6 (Last week: 6)

From The Ringer collective staff, excerpt from Ben Solak:

“I continue to like Detroit as a playoff sleeper. I sure liked them more when I thought the Lions would earn the NFC’s no. 2 seed and get a home playoff game in the divisional round, as Jared Goff is remarkably better at home than he is on the road. But sometimes, the refereeing crew incorrectly identifies the player who reported as eligible, which wipes a game-winning two-point conversion off the board, and then they get to act like it wasn’t their mistake because there’s functionally zero officiating accountability. It happens!

“Still: the Lions can beat you on the ground or through the air, and while their defense isn’t great, they have a couple of star players in Aidan Hutchinson and Brian Branch who can tip the scales with one splash play.”

CBS Sports: 7 (Last week: 4)

From Pete Prisco:

“That was a tough loss to the Cowboys on the road, even with the controversy contributing to it. They will be either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NFC.”

Pro Football Network: 7 (Last week: 8)

From Dalton Miller:

“Dan Campbell (understandably) tilted after the Lions’ successful two-point conversion attempt was called back by a bogus penalty on offensive tackle Taylor Decker, who reported eligible on the play and caught the pass.

“Detroit’s run defense looked outstanding, and their rushing attack looked dominant at times against Dallas’ defense. However, a few mistakes from Jared Goff led to turnovers, and the Lions’ pass defense remains the team’s Achilles heel.”

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