Expressing unwavering confidence in the Detroit Lions as contenders has not been an easy leap, but recent developments leave no room for doubt. Even after having bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a +3.5-point spread last week, my conviction was dealt a humbling blow as Jared Goff steered the Lions to a decisive 20-6 victory.
Consider this remarkable statistic: Since Week 9 of the prior season, the Lions have posted an impressive 13-3 record. Only the 49ers (14-1) and Chiefs (14-2) have outshone them during this span. Notably, CBS Sports Senior NFL Writer Will Brinson declared on the Pick Six Podcast that had the Lions donned a different uniform, say that of the Dallas Cowboys, we would be touting them as one of the NFL’s elite teams.
My initial reluctance to anoint the Lions as contenders primarily stemmed from concerns about defensive injuries, particularly Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley. Astonishingly, these setbacks have yet to hinder the Lions, who now claim the seventh-best defense after six weeks.
Jared Goff’s performance has been stellar, boasting a remarkable 13-3 record in his last 16 starts and an impressive 28-4 TD-INT ratio in those games. Additionally, the Lions possess an array of offensive talents, including the fantastic David Montgomery, the promising Jahmyr Gibbs, the elite Amon-Ra St. Brown at wide receiver, the standout rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, and the emerging deep threat Jameson Williams. The Lions unequivocally belong to the contender category.
Turning our attention to the Buffalo Bills, my faith in their standing remains somewhat unsteady. This skepticism isn’t solely due to their struggles against Tyrod Taylor and the New York Giants. What truly concerns me are the substantial losses on defense, specifically Tre’Davious White and Matt Milano, with both potentially sidelined for the entire season. Nevertheless, the Bills’ offense, when operating at peak performance, can hold its own against any opponent, thanks in large part to the extraordinary talents of quarterback Josh Allen.
While the Bills appear likely to secure a playoff berth, their early-season inconsistency tempers grand pronouncements about their future. Nonetheless, Josh Allen’s consistent record of 11-win seasons over the last three years warrants extending the benefit of the doubt to Buffalo.
As for the Dallas Cowboys, they managed to secure a narrow victory against the Los Angeles Chargers on a Monday night, a testament to their resilience. Nonetheless, puzzling decisions by head coach Mike McCarthy, such as delaying a timeout in the late second quarter, persist. Nevertheless, the Cowboys remain firmly entrenched in the top 10, and they are poised for another opportunity to reshape their postseason narrative in the coming months.
The performance of Dak Prescott’s receiving corps has fallen short of expectations, Tony Pollard is averaging fewer rushing yards per game compared to the previous year, and the defense has lost key playmakers, including Trevon Diggs. Still, the Cowboys are well-positioned for a playoff run, teetering on the precipice between contender and pretender.