NFL Week 12 Power Rankings: Lions overcome struggles, move into top 3

The Detroit Lions were not at their best against the Chicago Bears in Week 11, but they managed to escape with a win, overcoming a 12-point deficit with only minutes remaining in the game.

There is a lot to clean up for the Lions, that’s for certain, and it was one of their sloppiest performances on the season, but only one national ranker dinged them for their performance. In fact, overcoming so many obstacles impressed enough of the national rankers that most kept them at the same spot they were in last week or moved them up a spot in their rankings.

“They were minus-three in turnovers and trailed by 12 points with less than four minutes left … yet they found a way to win,”’s Eric Edholm wrote after moving the Lions up to No. 3 in his rankings. “This should be the type of game that makes us respect Detroit more.”

Let’s take a closer look at this week’s national power rankings to see the rest of the explanations for why the Lions landed where they did on each ranker’s list.

CBS Sports: 2 (Last week: 3)

From Pete Prisco:

“They had to rally to beat a so-so Bears team at home, which isn’t a good sign. But the fact they did it shows they are a truly a good team.”

Yahoo Sports: 3 (Last week: 3)

From Frank Schwab:

“The Lions were incredibly sloppy on Sunday and that’s concerning. Jared Goff threw three interceptions, his most this season (he had thrown just five in Detroit’s first nine games). It happens. The takeaway is that Detroit won anyway. You’d like to play great every week, but that’s not realistic and there’s something to be said about winning with your C- or D+ game.”

The Athletic: 3 (Last week: 3)

From Josh Kendall:

Are they good? Yes

“The Lions scored 17 points in the final 2:59 Sunday, and it’s that offense that makes them so dangerous. They are second in the league in yards per game (399.6) and fifth in scoring (27.2) but only 17th in red-zone touchdown efficiency (52.9 percent) so there’s still room for growth. The Lions, who are 16-4 in their last 20, haven’t started a season this well since 1962.”

Sporting News: 3 (Last week: 3)

From Vinnie Iyer:

“The Lions didn’t look good with Jared Goff turnovers for most of the game vs. Chicago, also having more defensive breakdowns. But credit them for digging deep late and making the plays needed to win, a sign of a strong, complete playoff team.”

Pro Football Network: 3 (Last week: 3)

From Dalton Miller:

“Jared Goff turned into a pumpkin against the Bears on Sunday, but the Detroit Lions battled for four quarters to overcome a multi-score deficit in the final 15 minutes to beat their division rivals.

“Aidan Hutchinson sealed the game with a beautiful rush that resulted in a strip-sack of Justin Fields, who played relatively well in his first action back from his injury. Considering the issues Detroit had defending the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens, a big day from Fields shouldn’t have been surprising.” 3 (Last week: 4)

From Eric Edholm:

“Jared Goff threw three picks Sunday against the Bears, though two of them were a little fluky, as one was tipped and another spawned from contact that might have been defensive pass interference. Still, Goff also had two other passes that easily could have been picked, including one that might have been a long pick-six by Bears CB Jaylon Johnson. It felt like the Bears threw way more pressure at the Lions than expected, which threw off the rhythm of the passing game. But unlike some others, I saw this win as a positive for Detroit. Almost everything went against the Lions in this game. They were minus-three in turnovers and trailed by 12 points with less than four minutes left … yet they found a way to win. This should be the type of game that makes us respect Detroit more.

Touchdown Wire: 4 (Last week: 3)

From Jarrett Bailey:

“The Detroit Lions are 8-2 for the first time since the Lincoln administration (don’t dig too far into that, I’m pretty certain that’s correct). They do come down a spot after an ugly performance against an inferior Bears team. However, they are still as dangerous as any team in the NFC.”

ESPN: 4 (Last week: 4)

From ESPN staff, excerpt from Eric Woodyard:

Preseason hot seat: QB Jared Goff

“Current temperature of hot seat: Cold

“The Lions are off to their best start since 1962, and sitting comfortably atop the NFC North standings in position to win their first division title since 1993. Goff has been a major factor this season, as he has continued to revitalize his career under coach Dan Campbell and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. Goff has 2,743 passing yards through 10 games this season as well as 16 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. The next thing he has to prove is whether he can lead the team in the playoffs.”

MMQB: 4 (Last week: 4)

From Connor Orr:

“An inspiring comeback for the Lions, who continue to remain themselves during moments of adversity, while also riding the tailwind of a distinct coaching edge. At the end of Sunday’s game against the Bears, when needing a game-winning touchdown, Detroit didn’t have to do, really, anything different. Jared Goff was the most comfortable we’ve seen him all afternoon despite throwing three picks.”

USA Today: 6 (Last week: 6)

From Nate Davis:

“A team that has zero NFC North crowns to its credit has won seven consecutive divisional games for the first time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. They can run that streak to eight on Thanksgiving by beating Green Bay.”

The Ringer: 6 (Last week: 8)

From The Ringer collective staff, excerpt from Danny Heifetz:

“At 8-2, Detroit has its best record heading into Thanksgiving in more than 60 years. In a refreshing, un-Lion-like game in Week 10, Jared Goff threw three interceptions, but Detroit managed to come up in the clutch and pull out a win with 17 points in the final three minutes. The offense has been Detroit’s strength all year, led by a one-two punch at running back in David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, plus impressive play from star receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and rookie tight end sensation Sam LaPorta. Detroit is winning games even when it doesn’t play well, which is the truest sign of a good team. If it remains consistent, Dan Campbell’s squad has a good shot at making a deep playoff run for the first time since the early 1990s”

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