A bye week didn't allow for much movement in the power rankings for the Detroit Lions, but in a few polls the team moved up or down a couple spots by default. This weekend promises to be important, as the Lions visit the Chicago Bears in an NFC North tilt with playoff implications. The Lions want to win to stay ahead in the wild card race and keep pace with Green Bay, while the Bears want to stay hot and knock the Lions down a peg for the wild card.
The national writers offered their opinions on a variety of topics this week, including the Lions addition of Leonard Davis, their game against Chicago, what the team may have ironed out in the bye week, and the schedule as it results to their pursuit of the playoffs.
Here's week nine's look at the Lions' place in the power rankings and a few other assorted issues:
ESPN: 7th. Last Week: 8th. John Clayton moves the Lions up one spot in his rankings this week, as he lauds Martin Mayhew's move to sign Leonord Davis to be a backup guard. Clayton laments it's a shame Davis is not a big running back, but that is likely what the Lions hope to gain from Kevin Smith's signing a deal with the team just days after Davis did.
CBS Sports: 6th. Last Week: 8th. Pete Prisco bumps the Lions ahead on his list this week, and says the bye week should help them with two things: running the ball and stopping the run. Certainly, that was the Lions' biggest issue in the first half of this season, and the task does not get any easier this week as the Bears come calling with a good defense and running game with Matt Forte. The upside? We should know in a hurry this week if the Lions were able to improve over their bye, like Prisco suspects.
FOX Sports: 11th. Last Week: 10th. Brian Billick points out that Matthew Stafford an Jahvid Best each received a week off at the best possible time following their tough injuries the weeks before. He goes on to say that the Lions will most likely be angling for a wild card spot, because the Packers look to be impossible to catch in the NFC North. Though the Packers are perfect, that is a bit of a stretch. Their division lead is two, and the Lions have two more games remaining against Green Bay. All they need to do is keep pace, beat the Packers and hope they drop another game or two. Implausible? Yes. Impossible at this point? Certainly not.
Pro Football Talk: 5th. Last Week: 5th. Mike Florio completely bypasses the Lions' next few games (including this weekend's big divisional tilt with the Bears) and skips right to looking forward for their matchup with the Packers in 16 days. Thankfully, that's why he's a writer and not playing the games. Though the game against Green Bay on Thanksgiving figures to be exciting and important, there is plenty of business the Lions need to attend to in the meantime. It starts this Sunday in Chicago.
Sports Illustrated: 7th. Last Week: 7th. Though Don Banks may be a believer in the Lions, he doesn't want their focus to slip up too soon. Banks says it is far too early for the team to start counting down days until the playoffs start. Instead, he implores them to put their heads down and focus on this weekend's game in Chicago, two games against the Packers and tough road games against New Orleans and Oakland. Banks is right. It will be an uphill battle all the way for the Lions in the second half, and the only way they will get the job done is by not counting their chickens and pushing forward. Take heed, Lions fans.
Highest rank: 5th
Lowest rank: 11th
Their overall consensus: The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Lions, who were able to let the dinged up Jahvid Best and Matthew Stafford rest while working on their suspect run defense and sputtering rushing attack. This weekend's game against Chicago is important in the standings, as the Lions prepare to meet the Packers later this season and close with a tough slate. They'll need to keep their focus to lock up a playoff birth.
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