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Cowboys vs. Lions: Detroit clinches division title for the first time in three decades

The Lions won the NFC North for the first time, as their last division title was in the NFC Central.

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NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

KEY QUESTIONS: What is Campbell’s message to the team following emotional win in Minnesota? - Tim Twentyman, DetroitLions.com

Detroit looks for more after clinching their division.

What will be Campbell’s biggest message to the players this week after the emotion of Sunday and heading into a short week?

Avoiding complacency.

That’s going to be the biggest talking point in Campbell’s speech to the players Tuesday afternoon. Winning the NFC North was a great accomplishment and a goal for this team dating back to the spring, but Campbell is on to the next goal.

“That’s the biggest opponent for us right now,” he said of complacency. “That is what we’re going to fight from here on out.”

He said he understands the celebrations the last 48 hours and the continued questions about doing something the organization hasn’t accomplished in 30 years, but he and this team have bigger goals than just a division title and if they keep living in that moment, they aren’t getting to the next one. Campbell made a good comparison to it being like playoff football. There’s no time to celebrate a playoff win because it’s immediately on to the next one. He has the same message in this instance.

“We checked the box on one thing and now it’s to the next one,” Campbell said. “At this point now we’re fighting for the No. 2 seed. And look, if you’re able to get the No. 1, so be it. But what we know we can achieve on our own is the No. 2.”

If the Lions win their last two games at Dallas and home vs. Minnesota they will be the No. 2 seed.

The Old Lions Are Gone, and the New Are Just Getting Started - Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated

This may be the beginning of a new age for the Lions.

There was a video the Lions put out Sunday after winning their division for the first time in three decades that centered on a Sept. 1 team meeting. In the meeting, Detroit coach Dan Campbell explained to his players how they had a chance to leave a legacy, with a franchise that hadn’t won a playoff game in 31 years or a league title in 66 years.

“We’re gonna hit some bumps in the road,” Campbell told his players. “You were built for that s---.”

With the chance to break one of those droughts in Minnesota two days ago, Campbell’s Lions had to prove it one more time. They had gone into the last two minutes of the first half leading 17–7 and allowed touchdowns on each side of the half to fall behind 21–17 three minutes into the third quarter.

The Lions had hit a bump in the road. It was gut-check time. But no one needed to say anything.

“I wish there was some magic phrase that someone said,” quarterback Jared Goff told me from the winning locker room. “But we just operate. We respond. These guys that we’ve got on our team are pretty special. They really don’t get fazed by much. We’ve been in much harder situations than that. It wasn’t much of a thing. We just put our heads down and go back to work.”

For all the emotion—every bit of it justified—that Sunday brought out in Detroit, there was something so cold and workmanlike about the way the Lions actually got the win. It didn’t look or smell or feel like a one-off. Rather, it was just a really good team executing the plan its coach laid out ahead of Week 1.

Lions climb into top 5 in most NFL power rankings - Jeff Risdon, USA Today

As the regular season winds down, the Lions are on the rise.

As the NFL enters the final two weeks of the regular season, the Detroit Lions have firmly established themselves as one of the league’s best teams. The 11-4 record and NFC North title stand out in a league where every team has gone through rough patches at some point through the season.

At USA TODAY, where Detroit somehow fell despite winning in Week 15, the Lions rose up to No. 5 overall. They moved up from No. 8, passing the Chiefs (who lost), the Dolphins (who beat Dallas) and the Cowboys.

The Lions are also up into the fifth spot at The Athletic, rising from No. 7. In an interesting twist, they named Penei Sewell the Lions’ MVP so far. At CBS Sports, Detroit bubbled up one spot to No. 4. Our friends at Touchdown Wire bumped the Lions to No. 5 from seventh, noting,

The Lions have won the NFC North for the first time, and it’s their first division title since 1993. Dan Campbell is certainly a candidate for Coach of the Year, and the fact that he accomplished this in just three seasons is incredible.

NBC, via Pro Football Talk, holds the Lions at No. 6 overall. The Lions held steady at the No. 4 spot over at The Sporting News after clinching the NFC North.

Jared Goff on Jameson Williams: ‘I trust him on really everything’ - Jeremy Reisman, PrideofDetroit.com

Detroit’s QB1 has complete faith in his first-round wide receiver.

To say Jameson Williams had a slow start to his NFL career would be an understatement. As planned following selecting him 12th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions let him rehab from a torn ACL for most of his rookie season. His Year 2 progress was quickly derailed, too. He suffered a hamstring injury midway through his first training camp and started the season serving a four-game suspension for gambling on non-NFL games.

But around the midway point of this season, there was a notable shift in Williams’ game. Since Week 7, Williams has played at least 30 snaps in every game, and since Week 10, he’s logged at least half of the team’s offensive snaps. Instead of just running deep, clear-out routes, the Lions are utilizing his entire route tree.

And while the production isn’t exactly first-round worthy yet, the progress is easy to see. Over the last eight games, Williams has caught 18-of-27 targets (66.6%) for 230 yards and a touchdown.

Goff said on Tuesday that he’s now just one of the guys out there.

“He’s worked himself into that role. I trust him on really everything he’s doing now,” Goff said. “He’s done a hell of a job getting himself there. Again, it’s just reps, just time. He’s still a young player. He’s still learning and growing. He just keeps doing this [raising arm up] every week. It’s exciting for me, it’s exciting for our offense.”

Here are the first injury reports for the Lions and Cowboys in Week 17.

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