Yesterday, the 2013 NFL schedule was finally released which, in a football starved community, had all the reverberations of a major holiday. When the veil was finally lifted, however, it was revealed the Detroit Lions might have a very tough road to hoe after a miserable 2012 year, including a Monday Night Football clash with the defending champion Baltimore Ravens.
Let’s delve in to next year’s schedule, go game by game and make some predictions. At this point, given the tough nature of Detroit’s start and finish, there’s no reason to expect anything better than 8-8.
Week 1: Minnesota Vikings. The Lions dropped both games to the Vikings last season, including a closely contested game at Ford Field where Percy Harvin’s kickoff return made all the difference. It will be a huge test out of the chute for Detroit, who will have to show they can stop Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder on defense right away. The Lions will win, though, and atone for last fall. Detroit, W (1-0)
Week 2: at Arizona Cardinals. Detroit makes a return trip to the desert, where they were embarrassed late last season, meaning this isn’t a game to take lightly. The Cardinals have made a few significant changes, both at quarterback and coaching. The Lions need to view this game as a must win, given their big loss there in December 2012. In the end, the Lions have a few too many play makers and are properly motivated. Detroit, W (2-0)
Week 3: at Washington Redskins. A second straight road test comes for the Lions in the form of Robert Griffin III and Washington, a surprise playoff team last season. This will be tough for the Lions, and they’ll struggle to keep up in a tough road environment. This leads to the first loss of the season. Washington, W (2-1)
Week 4: Chicago Bears. Another team the Lions lost twice to last season, the Bears will have a few notable holes defensively without Brian Urlacher, but will keep their offensive potency. This helps to do Detroit in, as they struggle to get over the top at home against a classically tough rival. Chicago, W. (2-2)
Week 5: at Green Bay Packers. The Lions haven’t won in Green Bay since 1991, and fortunately, this season, they’ll play the Packers at a time when the weather should be much better than last December. That doesn’t matter, though, as Detroit cant’ seem to get over the hump at Lambeau Field. What else is new, the Lions lose on the road. Green Bay, W (2-3)
Week 6: at Cleveland Browns. Finally, a “break” in the schedule. The Lions make a regular season trip to Cleveland, where they’ll find a Browns team with a few players to watch. Detroit has the better, more complete team, though, and wins going away. Detroit, W (3-3)
Week 7: Cincinnati Bengals. The second straight AFC North matchup comes against the Bengals, who come to Detroit for the first time since the “Millen Man March” in 2005. These Lions are different than those, and they prove it to the Bengals with an offensive outpouring and some tough defense. Detroit, W (4-3)
Week 8: Dallas Cowboys. Finally, the Cowboys visit the Lions at Ford Field, and Tony Romo gets a rude awakening. Detroit’s defense pressures him, and Dallas loses a shootout in Detroit which could be critical for NFC playoff positioning. Detroit, W (5-3)
Week 9: Bye Week
Week 10: at Chicago Bears. Another bad location where the Lions just don’t win is Soldier Field. That trend continues, as Detroit earns a season split with Chicago thanks to a tough, blowout fashion loss. Chicago, W (5-4)
Week 11: at Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a rough road game even though the Steelers have been taking a step back during this offseason. Pittsburgh’s defense is still too elite, and the weather in November likely won’t be fantastic for this sloppy outdoor game. The Lions lose again and slip back to the pack. Pittsburgh, W (5-5)
Week 12: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A tough home game, the Lions respond to two losses by smothering the Bucs at home. They’ve had Tampa’s number the last few years, and respond well by grabbing a big comeback win. Detroit, W (6-5)
Week 13: Green Bay Packers (Thanksgiving Day). These games haven’t been kind to the Lions in the past, but Detroit manages to get the job done this Thanksgiving and atone for plenty of past sins on the holiday. Their passion carries them against a good Packer team, and Lions’ fans can give thanks for a holiday win once again. Detroit, W (7-5)
Week 14: at Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions gutted out a big win against the Eagles last season, and this year’s version of the team will be going through a lot of turnover. Detroit’s experience and stability pays off in this one, and they get a big road win nearing the end of the season. Detroit, W (8-5)
Week 15: Baltimore Ravens (Monday Night Football). The defending champions enter the jungle on Monday Night Football, and had better be prepared for a fight. They’re the deeper, more physical team, though, and teach the Lions a lesson in front of a revved up crowd. Baltimore, W (8-6)
Week 16: New York Giants. Another stern test visits Ford Field in the form of the Giants, and the second Super Bowl champion takes Detroit to task. The Lions lose a critical, late season NFC game and begin to leak plenty of oil down the stretch. New York, W (8-7)
Week 17: at Minnesota Vikings. Quite possibly, the Lions will be fighting Minnesota for playoff positioning, and that sets up a huge final game in our scenario. Detroit got back to their losing ways in Minnesota last year after breaking an elongated curse, and they are unable to get the job done on the road again. A hot and cold season comes to an end with a season ending loss which kicks the Lions from playoff contention. They finish .500, but the results could have been much better. Minnesota, W, (8-8)
Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on his personal Twitter account @SportsGuyTheMax or on this site’s Twitter @detroitlions101
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