Power rankings: Lions close season with ‘a lot to like’ about the future

Pride of Detroit

We have reached the final Power Rankings of the 2021 season. The Detroit Lions (2-13-1) weren’t always easy to watch, but those who took the time saw a team willing to fight to the bitter end, as coach Dan Campbell worked diligently to establish a new culture in Detroit.

Most national analysts that invested their time in the Lions can see the forest from the trees in Detroit and ranked appropriately. Others, well, to say they phoned in their responses may be too kind—the two groups are easy to identify.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what the national media had to say about the Lions for the final time this season.

MMQB: 29 (Previous: 29)

“Dan Campbell spent the year laying the groundwork for a post-Matt Patricia culture change. Did it work? Free agency will be the best indicator as to how his act ultimately plays out. I can say only personally that I enjoyed it, and bought it. It feels genuine. Campbell might be a ways away from catching the Packers, but he was also a few bounced balls away from third place in the division this year.” — MMQB rotating series, Conor Orr ($ubscription required)

NFL.com: 29 (Previous: 28)

“We’ve all had such a fun time rooting for the plucky, upstart Lions that we seem to paper over the grisly blowout losses that have dotted their 2-13-1 season. Let’s do it again, shall we? Sunday’s 51-29 setback to the Seahawks featured yet another standout game from rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who scored two touchdowns (one receiving, one rushing) and tied Calvin Johnson for the longest streak of games with at least eight receptions in franchise history (he’s up to five with one week to play). Pretty nice company for the 22-year-old.”— Dan Hanzus

CBS Sports: 29 (Previous: 29)

“That little streak of being in games came to an end at Seattle. But there is a lot to like about this season for this young team.” — Pete Prisco

Yahoo Sports: 30 (Previous: 28)

“Rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown’s emergence late in the season has been a great story for the Lions. He had his fifth big game in a row on Sunday, with eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. He’s a great building block for the 2022 Lions offense.” — Frank Schwab

ESPN: 31 (Previous: 31)

New Year’s resolution: A winning record

“Lord knows how much Lions fans have suffered over the years. With just one playoff victory since 1957, the city is starving for some football success. They’ve had star players and solid coaching at times, but just can’t seem to put it all together. But let’s not even think about the playoffs, let’s focus on the regular season for this New Year’s resolution. We can start with a winning record. That hasn’t happened since 2017, the second of back-to-back 9-7 seasons under Jim Caldwell. If Dan Campbell can deliver at least a .500 mark, that’ll be good.” — Eric Woodyard

USA Today: 31 (Previous: 31)

“Finishing up strong, surrendering 51 points in Week 17.” — Nate Davis

Washington Post: 31 (Previous: 31)

“At least the Lions aren’t going 0-17. They’ll always have that.” — Mark Maske ($ubscription required)

Sporting News: 31 (Previous: 31)

“The Lions had to roll with Tim Boyle again offensively and they got totally lanced defensively in Seattle with no answers for the running game or downfield passing game. At least Amon-Ra St. Brown has played like his namesake god down the stretch and D’Andre Swift is back, too.” — Vinnie Iyer

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