The Detroit Lions' rise to the top spot in the NFC North after four games isn't the result of luck or happenstance.
The Lions have earned the 3-1 won-loss record that has put them in first place in the division, a game ahead of the Green Bay Packers team they bested in a 34-20 win Thursday night.
With the Lions at the four-game mark of the 2023 season, this week's Monday Countdown looks at where they stand in key areas.
Traditionally, this would have been done at the one-quarter mark of the season, but there are no quarters in the 17-game schedule.
The following is a look at how the Lions have performed on offense, defense and special teams.
Run game: Head coach Dan Campbell believes in running the ball, and the Lions fortified the position in the offseason. They signed free agent David Montgomery and drafted Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round.
Both have paid dividends.
Montgomery has 262 yards rushing and five TDs. Three came against the Packers. Gibbs has 179 yards rushing and 70 receiving.
The Lions had a 211-27 advantage in yards rushing over the Packers.
The running game is a strength.
Passing game: Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown already is a tested third-year veteran who has 331 catches, two TDs and 12.7 yards per catch. Tight end Sam LaPorta is a tested rookie who has 22 catches, 242 yards and a TD. Another contributor, wide receiver Jameson Williams, can add a speed threat when he returns early from suspension.
The passing game is efficient and productive.
Quarterback: Jared Goff runs the show, and he does it with poise and production. He doesn't rattle. He's had three interceptions – and followed all three by leading the Lions to a touchdown.
Goff is a winner.
Offensive line: It has survived injuries to be as good as expected.
The Lions' clinching possession in the fourth quarter Thursday night covered 75 yards on 14 plays – 11 runs and three passes – and took up 8:52.
The offensive line controls the line of scrimmage, which allows the offense to excel in the fourth quarter.
Pass rush: One sack in the first two games raised questions.
The answer came with 12 sacks in the last two games -- seven against the Falcons and five against the Packers.
Aidan Hutchinson led the way with 3.5 sacks, but Alim McNeill has had a sack in each of the last two games. Pressure from the interior can control the game.
Depth up front and at linebacker is an asset, with players like John Cominsky, Charles Harris, Romeo Okwara, Isaiah Buggs and others keeping fresh players in the game.
Run defense: After giving up a respectable 90 yards to the Chiefs in the opener and 82 to the Seahawks in Week 2, the Lions put the clamps on.
The Falcons squeezed out 44 yards on 20 carries, and the Packers had 27 yards on 12 carries.
In the last two games the Lions have given up 67 yards on 32 carries – just over two yards per carry. The stats speak for themselves.
Secondary: Another improved area, with the potential to improve even more. Three free agents were offseason additions, but C.J. Gardner-Johnson sustained a torn pectoral muscle in the Week 2 game, and Emmanuel Moseley has yet to play because of an injury.
However, two other additions – rookie Brian Branch and veteran Cam Sutton – have made their presence felt.
Jerry Jacobs had two interceptions against the Packers.
The secondary is an improving unit.
It is a perennial strength and that hasn't changed in punting, coverage and returns. Riley Patterson has been 5-for-5 in field goals. There are greater tests to come.