Power rankings: Detroit Lions drop after defense struggles

Pride of Detroit

The Detroit Lions (1-3) offense has enough explosive firepower to shoot it out with anyone. The problem is, the defense is struggling to stop everyone and putting the offense in an almost impossible position.

The lack of defensive success has left a bad impression on some national analysts—and their rankings reflect that—while other still believe the Lions can make some noise, because after all, offense is king in the current NFL.

Let’s take a look at this week’s NFL power rankings.

USA Today: 19 (Previous: 14)

From Nate Davis:

“They’ve scored 140 points and surrendered 141. Keep this up, and they’ll give up a league record 599 points … but, like Sunday, at least they’ll lose in entertaining fashion.”

The Athletic: 20 (Previous: 15)

From Bo Wulf:

“Big O, no D. Even without D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown, the Lions put up 45 points on a Seahawks team with a similar structural profile. The Lions rank fifth in EPA per drive on offense and 31st in defensive EPA per drive. T.J. Hockenson’s 179 receiving yards were the most for a tight end this season, and the Lions finished their loss to the Seahawks with touchdowns on their final four possessions.

“The defense, though, woof. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is under fire after a game in which it allowed at least a field goal attempt on all eight Seahawks possessions before the end of the game. Colton Pouncy puts it well: “The Lions have scored 140 points through four games — the most in the NFL. Opponents have scored 141 against Detroit — also the most in the NFL. Those 281 points are the most combined by any team through the first four weeks of a season. The Lions became just the 30th team in the Super Bowl era to score 140-plus points in its first four games. They’re the first of that bunch to post a losing record.

“Still, in the long run, bet on offense.”

MMQB: 22 (Previous: 15)

From Conor Orr ($ubscription required):

“This team is loaded with potential but is getting absolutely gashed defensively. Currently, Detroit is dead last in points surrendered (48 against the Seahawks, 38 against the Eagles). As good as offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has been in maximizing the weapons, the Lions are not built to win like texas Tech.”

NFL.com: 24 (Previous: 16)

From Dan Hanzus:

“You can have all the grit in the world, but if you don’t have defense, none of it matters. Detroit continued to hemorrhage yards on Sunday, surrendering 555 of them to Geno Smith and a Seahawks attack that won’t be confused with the 2007 Patriots anytime soon. The Lions’ combination of high-flying offense and dismal defense is putting the team in the record books. According to NFL Media research, Detroit’s total of 281 points — 140 scored, 141 allowed — are the most by any team in the first four games of a season in NFL history. The team deserves recognition for putting 45 points on Seattle with D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown out with injuries — but if they allow 35.3 points per game, they’ll be picking in the top five yet again come April.”

Yahoo Sports: 24 (Previous: 19)

From Frank Schwab:

“The Lions’ defense is just dreadful. The Seahawks aren’t good on offense and they rang up 555 yards. Head coach Dan Campbell said he won’t make a move with defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, but it will be unavoidable if the defense keeps playing like this. The offense, on the other hand, is legit if it can put up 45 points without D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown and D.J. Chark. The good offense/bad defense combo has led to some wild shootouts.”

The Ringer: 25 (Previous: 21)

From Austin Gayle:

“In true roller-coaster, fun-to-watch fashion, the Lions lead the NFL in total points scored (140) and points allowed (141). A lot of that offense has been generated when trailing big late in games, specifically against the Eagles last month and most recently against the Seahawks in Week 4, but there’s no question that this Detroit team can score. The offense was without leading receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and leading running back D’Andre Swift in Week 4 and still scored a season-high 45 points. It’s a great place to be for a rebuilding team still looking for a long-term answer at quarterback. Fans can celebrate points and losses in droves as they steer the course toward the Bryce Young/C.J. Stroud sweepstakes in 2023.”

ESPN: 25 (Previous: 25)

From Eric Woodyard:

“Defensive efficiency: 21.8
League rank: 32nd
The biggest issue on defense is … points allowed.

“Detroit currently leads the league in scoring but also allows the most points in the league. The defense struggles in yards per rush, red zone efficiency and third-down conversions — ranking last in all categories. Through four games this season, Detroit has allowed 141 points (35.3 points per game), which is the second most in franchise history — trailing only the 0-16 squad from 2008. The Lions need to make some changes immediately, and head coach Dan Campbell knows it.”

Touchdown Wire: 26 (Previous: 24)

From Mark Lane:

“The Lions have the ignominious distinction of losing an offensive showdown with Geno Smith. The positive from the first four weeks is that Detroit’s offense is more prolific than initially imagined. The downside is the Lions still struggle to close out games, which is why they keep tumbling in the power rankings.

Sporting News: 29 (Previous: 25)

From Vinnie Iyer:

“The Lions have proved they can score with anyone, even when Jared Goff is down several weapons. The offensive line is a sturdy backbone for protecting Goff and opening holes for Jamaal Williams and others. Unfortunately, the defense can’t do much of anything around Aidan Hutchinson.”

CBS Sports: 29 (Previous: 28)

From Pete Prisco:

“They are fun to watch since they score a lot, but that defense is awful. They can’t stop anybody, which is going to make for a long season.”

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