"The Lions are just so helter-skelter," one NFL general manager said.
"I'd put the Eagles before them [in the NFC]," one Pro Bowl receiver said.
"The two most underachieving teams over the last three or four years, in my opinion, are Detroit and Atlanta," a Super Bowl coach said.
The Lions lead the NFC North and have long appeared primed to win it for the first time, but they have not been consistent or convincing.
They have company in the NFC. The Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals also take 7-5 records into the final four weeks of the 2013 season. After sizing up would-be contenders in the AFC and ranking Super Bowl favorites, the time has come to sort through the NFC's second tier. Input from a GM, coach and two players inform our rankings while producing a surprising (to me) unanimous choice in the No. 1 slot.