American Football

Power rankings: Lions finish as best non-playoff team

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Power rankings: Lions finish as best non-playoff team
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Detroit Lions (9-8) have completed a remarkable season. After starting 1-6 and landing near, or at the bottom of most power rankings at that time, their 8-2 finish to the season has turned heads and earned respect nationally.

In this final look at the national power rankings, we’ll take a look at where the Lions opened the season as compared to how they finished it.

It’s worth noting that some outlets, like the Ringer and Sporting News, only ranked the teams in the postseason, some ranked the playoff teams in the first 14 spots and then everyone else, while other publications kept things authentic and placed teams regardless of the playoffs.

Let’s take a look at the final NFL power rankings for the 2022-23 season.

Yahoo Sports: 8 (Opened the season: 25)

From Frank Schwab:

“It’s rare for a non-playoff team to rightfully feel as good as the Lions should about their season. Their Week 18 win over the Packers, which gave them a winning record after a 1-6 start, seemed like a massive step. This will be everyone’s pick to win the NFC North in 2023.”

NFL.com: 9 (Opened the season: 27)

From Dan Hanzus:

“Don’t feel sorry for the Lions. They aren’t a part of the postseason, but Dan Campbell’s team got everything else it could have asked for out of the 2022 season. Sunday night’s 20-16 win over the Packers knocked a longtime bully out of playoff position and served as a beautiful conclusion to a hugely encouraging year. ‘Look, certainly I don’t want to hear that anymore, the Same Old Lions. That’s what all this is about,’ Campbell said after the emotional win. ‘There’s so many things and it all comes with winning, but yeah, I wanted to be part of building a brand-new brand.’ Campbell has done just that, and he deserves serious consideration in the Coach of the Year discussion as a result.”

MMQB: 13 (Opened the season: 24)

From Connor Orr:

“The Lions are one of the feel-good stories of the year for the way they fought down the stretch to climb back over the .500 mark and then toppled the Packers in Week 18 to knock their rivals out of the playoff in prime time. They will not be one of the 14 teams in the postseason, but our panel does think they are one of the 14 best teams in the league right now.”

ESPN: 13* (Opened the season: 26)

From Eric Woodyard:
* Note: ESPN finalized their end-of-season rankings before Week 18.

Regular season in five words or fewer: Night and day

“After a 1-6 start, it seemed as if the Lions were on pace for yet another disappointing season. However, Dan Campbell and the front office decided to shake things up by making some defensive tweaks and trading Pro Bowl TE T.J. Hockenson. Now they find themselves in the playoff conversation. Although their odds of reaching the playoffs are slim, this season is still a success for the second-year coach, as the team made a tremendous turnaround. The Lions are still in the midst of a rebuild but will enter the offseason with high draft capital.”

The Athletic: 15 (Opened the season: 27)

From Bo Wulf:

“On the one hand, it’s a bummer this Lions team doesn’t get to play in the postseason. It’s probably one of the 10 best teams in the league and had the stones to pull off a playoff upset or two. On the other hand, that really was the best way for the Lions to go out. A national stage, with everyone expecting them to lay an egg because their playoff hopes had been dashed an hour earlier, and they close out with their most memorable win of the season, ruining a perfect ending for their longtime nemesis. No one but the eventual Super Bowl winner will feel better about their last game of the season.”

CBS Sports: 15 (Opened the season: 28)

From Pete Prisco:

“They showed a lot by beating the Packers on the road with nothing to play for Sunday night. Jared Goff had a heck of a second half.”

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