NFL power rankings: Week of upsets gives Detroit Lions hope to avoid 0-17

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions were on bye last week, which means they didn’t lose for the first time this season. Yay.

That tired joke aside, Week 9 really was a week of hope for the Lions, a reaffirmation that anything can happen — and at some point, probably will — in the NFL.

The lowly Jacksonville Jaguars upset one of the best teams in the AFC, the Buffalo Bills. The New York Giants won for the second time in three weeks, beating another AFC playoff contender, the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Arizona Cardinals won without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. The Tennessee Titans dominated Matthew Stafford’s L.A. Rams without Derrick Henry. And on Monday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers staved off a wild comeback to beat the Chicago Bears.

The fact the Steelers beat a bad Bears team wasn’t much of a surprise. Pittsburgh is the second hottest team in the NFL right now with four straight wins, behind only the Titans (winners of five straight).

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But the fact they needed late-game heroics from Ben Roethlisberger to beat the Bears at Heinz Field reiterates, for me, that this week’s game in Pittsburgh is winnable for the Lions.

That might sound silly to some, the winless Lions walking out of Heinz Field with their first win. But the Steelers are a slightly above average football team with a good defense and a ragged-armed quarterback playing on a short week with much more important games ahead.

I am not predicting a win for the well-rested Lions — not yet, at least. But a week of reflection has made me think there are opportunities on the Lions’ upcoming schedule. The Steelers have scored more than 17 points just four times this season; that’s the type of team the Lions can beat.

The Bears on Thanksgiving, the Vikings in early December, the Falcons later in the month, all winnable games.

The Lions won’t win all of them, of course. But I still believe they get one or two or maybe even three, and avoid 0-17.

This week’s power rankings

1. Arizona Cardinals (8-1)

2. Green Bay Packers (7-2)

3. Tennessee Titans (7-2)

4. Los Angeles Rams (7-2)

5. Dallas Cowboys (6-2)

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)

7. Buffalo Bills (5-3)

8. Baltimore Ravens (6-2)

9. Los Angeles Chargers (5-3)

10. Kansas City Chiefs (5-4)

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)

12. Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)

13. Cleveland Browns (5-4)

14. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)

15. New England Patriots (5-4)

16. New Orleans Saints (5-3)

17. Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

18. Denver Broncos (5-4)

19. San Francisco 49ers (3-5)

20. Seattle Seahawks (3-5)

21. Minnesota Vikings (3-5)

22. Carolina Panthers (4-5)

23. Chicago Bears (3-6)

24. Atlanta Falcons (4-4)

25. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6)

26. New York Giants (3-6)

27. Washington Football Team (2-6)

28. Miami Dolphins (2-7)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)

30. New York Jets (2-6)

31. Houston Texans (1-8)

32. Detroit Lions (0-8)

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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