In the NFL’s continued commitment to doing what it can to stay in the conversation—even though its season ended three months ago—the release of the schedule for the upcoming season has become a social media phenomenon. Twitter leaks, social media teams planning elaborate announcements, and early predictions remind us that the NFL season is only four months away.
But with the Detroit Lions schedule in hand, it’s time to make those way-too-early predictions better by ranking their schedule 1 through 17 in order of difficulty. As 17 is the easiest and 1 is the toughest challenge this upcoming season, let’s see how one of the most anticipated seasons in decades is shaping up in Detroit.
17 – Chicago BearsWeek 11
Detroit will have Jameson Williams back from suspension, and this game comes two weeks after the team’s bye week. It’s definitely a favorable place to play a divisional opponent, and it’s the team’s first opportunity to play a divisional opponent. BakersIt will be a good tune for the second half of the schedule.
16 – @ Chicago Bears, Week 14
It’s still the Bears, and who knows how much more they’ll play this season, but I’d consider this the tougher of their two matchups, with Chicago in December, and the Bears shooting Lions who got blown out by them a few weeks ago.
15 – Atlanta FalconsWeek 3
While the Falcons have done an admirable job of stockpiling offensive weapons in Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Bijaan Robinson, the Lions defense gets an early chance to meet Atlanta’s second-year quarterback Desmond Ritter. the season
14 – @ New Orleans SaintsWeek 13
If the Saints are hoping to do more than tread water in the NFC South this season, contending and playing for a division crown within a group of other teams, this game will be more challenging than it appears here in May. But you won’t see me putting my eggs in the Derek Carr basket any time soon, so this feels like a game Detroit needs to take another step toward a playoff spot. Additionally, Detroit will have extra rest after their Thanksgiving Day game the previous week.
13 – Minnesota VikingsWeek 18
It would certainly be nice if the Lions took care of business this season, treating this game as more of a formality than anything else. While the team is taking things slowly with the rehab and development of Hendon Hooker, it will certainly be an interesting proposition to see what the rookie from Detroit and Tennessee has in a position like this.
12 – Las Vegas RaidersWeek 8
It’s exciting for the Lions to be back on “Monday Night Football” and a matchup with the Raiders will be a chance to give their fans something to do during the bye week before Detroit hits the break on the 2023 schedule.
Vegas seems to be in a different place, bringing in Jimmy Garoppolo to reunite with Josh McDaniels in hopes that this will set their course right. Something gives me the feeling that this won’t be enough to keep McDaniels afloat for the rest of the year.
11 – @ Tampa Bay BuccaneersWeek 6
Detroit’s last game without James Williams will be on the road against the Buccaneers. Are they really trying to be contenders in the NFC South despite a deep table at quarterback? Some of their moves during the season would suggest they still see themselves pushing themselves into the playoffs through the division.
Any road game is tough, so this isn’t a game you want to overlook and mark in the win column because they look like a minor opponent. See: @Panthers, Week 16 (2022).
10 – @ Minnesota Vikings, Week 16
The Vikings lost big-name players on defense like Dalvin Tomlinson and Eric Kendricks in free agency, and it was the worst team on defense by many measures and metrics last year— 27th in defensive DVOA (26th against the pass, 19th against the run). They will need their offense to keep them in games, but I don’t think they have what it takes to keep up with Detroit this season.
9 – Denver BroncosWeek 15
If anyone can take the reigns and turn things around in Denver, it’s Sean Payton, right? Playing the Broncos at home is always better than traveling to Denver and playing in that mile-high air, but even if they come to Ford Field, the prospect of a revitalized Russell Wilson with plenty of weapons and a top-10 defense (10th in defensive DVOA) could be too much of a challenge for Detroit from a year ago.
8 – Green Bay Packers, Week 12
Detroit’s schedule will be especially testing for them from the jump, so this Thanksgiving game will be an important one to add to the Lions’ win column. Now, the Packers may be starting to figure things out with Jordan Love at center, and if their ground game can stay healthy, this could be a typical tough test from a division foe.
7 – Carolina PanthersWeek 5
Blame the disaster on last year’s Week 16 game and blame it on what I love about what the Panthers have done this offseason to begin their rebuild. The Lions get Bryce Young a month into his rookie season, but this has all the makings of a sneaky, early test at home in Detroit.
6 – @ Los Angeles ChargersWeek 10
If you’re selling your shares in the Los Angeles Chargers, bring me your Venmo or Cash App or whatever because I’m interested in buying them all. Joe Lombardi is back in his rightful place under Sean Payton in Denver, Kellen Moore is now paired with Justin Herbert in Los Angeles, and I expect only big things.
The Lions have the benefit of coming off their bye week to face the Chargers, but a talented group and an elite quarterback will be a test regardless of the circumstances.
5 – @ Green Bay Packers, Week 4
It doesn’t matter that it’s not Aaron Rodgers. It doesn’t matter if the Lions are season favorites in the division as well. It doesn’t matter. It’s Packers-Lions in Lambeau, and since the game is early in the season, it could be a defining game for both teams a month into the 2023 season. Add short rest and a quick four-day turnaround to the equation, and you have what the typical offering of “Thursday Night Football” in the NFL is: chaos.
4 – Seattle SeahawksWeek 2
Last year’s failure
Hands The legs of the Seattle Seahawks were one of the toughest losses to swallow in the first half of last year’s season. Along with the Panthers, I really like what the Seahawks have done so far this offseason, especially their draft class led by first-round picks Devon Witherspoon and Jackson Smith-Njikba.
Detroit gets the benefit of some extra rest by opening their season on Thursday in Week 1, otherwise this game would have ranked higher on this list.
3 – @ Baltimore RavensWeek 7
Detroit’s road schedule seemed challenging before knowing the lineup of games, but after seeing the actual schedule take shape, it looks like it will be even tougher. At least they’ll get Jameson Williams back for this game.
The Lions head to Baltimore to face the Ravens with aspirations of reclaiming the AFC North, and Detroit’s six weeks later include a short turnaround in Week 4 and a date with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6. Second half comeback against Baltimore.
2 – @ Dallas CowboysWeek 17
Another of Detroit’s four primetime games this year, the Lions head to Jerry’s World for a Saturday night showdown against the Dallas Cowboys that could have serious playoff implications—and that’s why it’s scheduled that way.
With it sandwiched between two contests against the division rival Minnesota Vikings, it looks like this could be Detroit’s toughest test, unless they have another game on their schedule…
1 – @ Kansas City ChiefsWeek 1
“Thursday Night Football” cruises to the Arrowhead for the season opener, completely bypassing the water wings and the shallow end of the pool. You’re more than 30 feet in the air and getting ready to make an Olympic dive against the defending world champions and the league’s best quarterback in Patrick Mahomes.
If you’re a team like Detroit, there’s no need to shy away from the challenge of taking that next step; If you want to be human, you must overcome man. There is no better stage or opportunity than having the entire football world watch you play against the premier team in the National Football League.