The Detroit Lions are playoff bound for the first time in a decade thanks to a huge Christmas Eve win over the San Diego Chargers. Consequently, the national media has returned the team to prominence in the national power rankings. Many are even starting to buy the Lions as a threat to make noise in the post season, given the explosive play of the offense. As the season heads into the final week, the Lions are now safely positioned in the playoffs, and poised to finish the season strong. That is, at least as far as the power rankings are concerned.
Here's week 16's complete rundown:
ESPN: 7th. Last Week: 9th. John Clayton moves the Lions up two spots this week, and takes note of Detroit's high powered offensive attack. Clayton thinks that whoever the Lions face might be challenged by a big play offense featuring Calvin Johnson. Also particularly frightening for the opposition may be how the Lions are peaking at just the right time. The last three weeks, the team has rolled up tons of yards en route to becoming the seventh ranked team in football with regard to total offense. Clayton is right, the Lions can create some havoc for a division winner with that attack.
Fox Sports: 7th. Last Week: 9th. Brian Billick singles out Matthew Stafford as part of his analysis this week, saying that despite the fact the Lions have the second fewest rushing attempts in the league, Stafford's offensive productivity hasn't dropped off despite the pressure on him to perform. Billick even contends that Stafford has played his way into the group of quarterbacks behind Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlesberger. Lofty praise for a quarterback who deserves it this season. I guess Eli Manning must still be ahead of him, however.
CBS Sports: 8th. Last Week: 9th. Pete Prisco doesn't contribute much to the discussion this week, outside of wondering aloud if the Lions can do anything in the playoffs now that they're finally in. Maybe he should read what John Clayton and Brian Billick have to say on that matter to help him form his own opinion. There's no doubt they have a chance to make some noise, as every wild card team seems to do year in and year out.
Sports Illustrated: 7th. Last Week: 9th. Don Banks thinks the Lions will see the Packers' back ups on Sunday, and believes the Lions should go "all out" to ensure victory and the number 5 seed in the playoffs. He says it could be the difference between going on a "real playoff run" or being a "one and done." There is no doubt the Lions would like to avoid the Saints at all costs, but no matter who plays for the Packers at Lambeau Field or how good the Lions have been, those among us who believe in ghosts and the impossible will still not like their chances. Heck, it's been since 1991 that the Lions have won in Green Bay. But if the dome losing streak ended in Minnesota earlier this season, why can't this streak end as well? May as well get rid of them all in one season.
Pro Football Talk: 7th. Last Week: 8th. Mike Florio thinks that since the Philadelphia Eagles have been eliminated, the Detroit Lions are officially the most dangerous team in the NFC playoff field. Very nice, Mike. We see what you did there. The Eagles were dangerous all season in their own minds, but the Lions might actually pose a challenge to their competition.
Highest ranking: 7th.
Lowest ranking: 8th.
Their overall consensus? The Lions stand a chance to make life tough on their opposition during the 2011 post season due to their high powered offense. Matthew Stafford has led the charge by being a mature play maker in the pocket. If the Lions want to make an extended run, however, they may want to lock down the 5 seed and avoid having to travel to New Orleans. The better matchup for their playoff happiness could likely be with either Dallas or the New York Giants.
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