I was perusing several sets of NFL power rankings the other day (looks like Thomas and I have the same sort of hobbies), and I was surprised at how much love the Lions were getting from the national rankers. Sure, they’re one of only two undefeated teams at 4-0, but I would have thought that someone out there would still strongly doubt the former lovable losers.
Apparently that’s not the case. I compiled NFL power rankings from eight national sources (ESPN, Fox Sports, USA Today, CBS Sports, Sporting News, SB Nation, Sports Illustrated, and NBC’s Pro Football Talk), and they’re all of the opinion that the Lions are one of the top teams in the NFL. No one in this group has them lower than sixth.
Here’s how the top ten shook out after I averaged the eight sets of rankings:
The lowest ranking in the group was sixth (Sporting News and USA Today), and the best ranking was second (CBS Sports). The most common rank was fourth (ESPN, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated).
But are the Lions really the third best team in the NFC? I was trying to refrain to jumping into full-out homer mode, so that seemed really high to me at first glance, but it does make a lot of sense. Behind Green Bay and New Orleans, there isn’t a team right now that you can definitively say is better than the Lions. In fact, the fourth best team in the conference, as rated by these power rankings, is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Lions already beat them (in Tampa) this season.
Detroit will be tested in the coming weeks by solid teams like Chicago, Atlanta, and San Francisco, but I’d pick Detroit in every one of those matchups. We’re one quarter of the way through the NFL season, and the Lions have already established themselves among the top contenders in the league (not just playoff contenders).
If these rankings could predict the playoffs, they’d say the following: