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Lions Schedule Looks Favorable This Year
At 8 PM Eastern time the Detroit Lions learned their regular season schedule for the 2016-2017 year. We knew the opponents, but the order, prime time games, and the Thanksgiving foe were yet to be determined.
Like last year, the Lions have three of their first four games on the road, including back to back away games against divisional rivals Chicago and Green Bay in weeks three and four. The Lions open the year at Indianapolis, and then their week two home opener is against Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans. Division road games are always tricky, if the Lions don’t come out of the gate quickly and ready to go, they could be 1-3 before week five.
Our Honolulu Blue warriors then have a three game home-stand, in which all three games I would expect the Lions to be favored in. They play the Eagles who they crushed on Thanksgiving, the LA Rams, and hometown hero Kirk Cousins as he brings the Washington Redskins to town in week seven. Anything less than 3-0 would be a disappointment in this part of the Lions schedule.
The team then travels to the first of their two games in Houston this year, (week eight, and the Super Bowl) to face Brock Osweiler and the Texans. In week nine, the Lions go to Minnesota for their first of two against the Vikings. Minnesota is trotting out a new stadium this year, so this game will no longer be outdoors like it was the past two seasons.
Week 10 is the bye week, which is a great week to have off. The players will have a chance to regroup after the first nine games, and hopefully gear up for a playoff run in the final seven weeks.
After the bye, Jacksonville comes to town for week eleven. The following Thursday is the annual Thanksgiving game against the Minnesota Vikings. Due to the lack of nationally attractive home games for the Lions, the Vikings have been slotted in for Thanksgiving since February. They should prove to be a tougher test than the lowly Eagles were last season.
The Lions have to travel down to New Orleans for the second year in a row in week thirteen. Even if the Saints are struggling like last season, NOLA is consistently a tough place to play due to the dome and crazy fans. Week fourteen is a home bout against the Bears, then the Lions head to the Big Apple to play the Giants in week fifteen.
If the Lions are in the playoff hunt come the final two weeks of the season, get ready for some heart-pumping, nerve-wracking, stroke-inducing games. The cardiac cats head back to Matthew Stafford’s hometown to play the Cowboys for the first time since the Wild-Card game disaster. This game will be the day after Christmas on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, the last MNF game of the year. The Lions then play the Green Bay Packers in the regular season finale. This game could be anywhere from for the division crown, or a rest day for Aaron Rodgers.
Overall, the Lions schedule is much easier than last years, but shouldn’t be taken lightly. The AFC South has been the joke of the league the past four years or so, but many of the teams have made a lot of changes and look to become contenders in 2016. It’s extremely important that the Lions get off to a good start. They have to win the home opener against Tennessee and two of the three road games against Green Bay, Chicago, and Indianapolis if they hope to make the playoffs this year.
An interesting thing about the season’s Lions schedule is that only three of the sixteen games will be played outside (Chicago, Green Bay, New York). The Chicago and Green Bay games are weeks three and four, so the weather will likely be good. The New York battle will be one likely to be played in cold temperatures, but the schedule makers have sent the Lions a gift. Another promising part of the schedule is that the second game against the NFC North opponents will all be at Ford Field. If the Lions can have a good record going into the bye week, the most important division games will be home ones.
I don’t like to predict records too early, but I really believe that if the Lions can get off to a strong start that they will have a favorable chance at the playoffs, and could make a play for the NFC North crown.