The Detroit Lions are in unfamiliar territory.
A 21-19 win in Chicago on Sunday improved their record to 6-3 on the season and they now stand alone atop the NFC North.
Detroit hasn't been atop the NFC North this late in the season since the NFL realignment in 2002 when the league went to four divisions in each conference, with four teams in each division.
Detroit was second a few times after Week 10 in 2002, 2007 and 2011, but never first.
In fact, the team hasn’t been No. 1 any division it’s played in after Week 10 since they led the NFC Central in 1999. They ultimately finished third, however, that season.
It’s been 20 years (1993) since the Lions won a division title.
And while it’s nice to be looking down at it’s division rivals, both players and coaches were saying all the right things in Chicago after the game.
"Obviously, there’s been a lot of talk about how well we’re playing and what we’re doing right and all these things, but one thing we can’t do is ‘eat the cheese,’ so to speak," said running back Reggie Bush, who rushed for 105 yards in the 21-19 win.
"We just have to focus on the little things right now. We can’t worry about winning the division, but just this next game."
It’s something all NFL coaches preach, but especially here in Detroit. Head coach Jim Schwartz usually declines to comment on any question pertaining to anything beyond the next week’s opponent, which in this case is a road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Honestly, it’s too early in the season to be worrying about who’s in first place," Schwartz said after the game in Chicago.
"We’ve got to keep playing games that are ahead of us, and keep our eyes on what’s right in front of us. We have to do a good job of preparing every week, and correcting mistakes. That’s really the name of the game."
That’s not to say players don’t realize what Sunday’s win and Green Bay’s loss mean. They know they have seven games remaining and now control their own destiny.
"That’s most important," defensive tackle
"We did a great job coming in here in Chicago and taking care of business. It wasn’t the best way to do it, but we got it done and we feel happy about that, but we have a big game going against Pittsburgh. Every game in November and December is big."
They certainly are, especially with the Lions currently holding down the No. 3 seed in the NFC, just one game behind the No. 2 seed New Orleans Saints (7-2).
There’s still a lot of football to be played before all that shakes out, though, including games vs. NFC playoff contenders Green Bay (5-4) and Philadelphia (5-5). That's why the mantra remains the same.
"We came out with a victory on the road against a really tough team. It was a hard-fought win by the players." Schwartz said after Sunday’s victory. "That’s the only thing that it means today. You don’t get a prize for being in first place nine games into the season."