NFL power rankings: Lions tied for first in NFC North (or last, depending on your view)

Detroit Free Press

Same old Lions? That might depend on whether you’re a glass-half-full kind of person.

The Detroit Lions are 1-1 through the first two weeks of the regular season, the same as every other team in the NFC North. That means they’re tied for first place in the division, a spot they have not been in-season since Week 4 of 2017.

The Lions started 3-1 that year, same as the Green Bay Packers, before the wheels came off in what would be Jim Caldwell’s final season as head coach. They lost games to the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints before the bye, and have not sniffed an NFC North lead since.

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Until now … unless, that is, you’re a pessimist and you see four teams with 1-1 records and consider the Lions tied for last place in the division.

That’s a spot the Lions have had at least a share of every week since Week 9 of the 2020 season.

The Lions started 3-4 that year, then lost to a 2-5 Minnesota Vikings team at home in what would be the start of Matt Patricia’s last stand as head coach. The Lions won the next week, but so did the Vikings, and the Lions have not been out of the cellar since.

Technically, the Lions are in third place in the division based on tie-breakers; the Vikings are 1-0 in division games, the Packers are 1-1 and the Lions have not played an NFC North opponent yet. But we’ll get more clarity on where things stand — and whether your optimism or pessimism is warranted — when the Lions visit the Vikings in a game between two top-20 teams in my power rankings this week.

The Lions moved up a tad with their rout of the Washington Commanders, and the Vikings moved down a few spots after getting trounced by the Philadelphia Eagles, who look like one of the best teams in the NFL after two games.

Here are the full rankings, with four of the league’s six remaining unbeatens occupying the top four spots:

Week 3 NFL power rankings

1. Buffalo Bills (2-0)

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)

OPINION:How the 2022 Lions made me a believer

4. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)

6. Los Angeles Rams (1-1)

7. Green Bay Packers (1-1)

8. Miami Dolphins (2-0)

9. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)

10. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

11. New Orleans Saints (1-1)

12. San Francisco 49ers (1-1)

13. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

14. New England Patriots (1-1)

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)

16. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2)

17. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)

18. Las Vegas Raiders (0-2)

19. Detroit Lions (1-1)

20. Cleveland Browns (1-1)

21. New York Giants (2-0)

22. Tennessee Titans (0-2)

23. Washington Commanders (1-1)

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)

25. Indianapolis Colts (0-1-1)

26. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

27. Denver Broncos (1-1)

28. New York Jets (1-1)

29. Chicago Bears (1-1)

30. Houston Texans (0-1-1)

31. Carolina Panthers (0-2)

32. Atlanta Falcons (0-2)

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

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