The NFL released its 2023-24 schedule on Thursday evening, and now all teams know the fate of their 17 regular season games. The NFC North favorite Detroit Lions embark on a big season where expectations are high in the Motor City. After a promising 9-8 campaign in 2022-23, the Lions must take that next step. And that journey to a long-awaited NFC North title starts in Kansas City.
Week 1 – Kansas City Chiefs (Away): Loss
The Lions will play in the NFL’s Kickoff game to start the season. On opening, Detroit travels to Kansas City for the first time since 2003. The Kansas City Chiefs will raise their championship banner before a febrile Arrowhead Stadium. After finishing last season on Sunday Night Football, the Lions take center stage on opening night. Dan Campbell will rev his young Lions up to 200mph.
It promises to be a spectacular occasion as two of the best offenses from 2023 lock horns. It is also the first time that Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes will share the field since that epic 2018 Monday Night Football game. But Kansas City’s high-powered offense will test Detroit’s rebuilt defensive backfield. And Andy Reid is the master of coaching games with long lead-in times. The Lions should be competitive, but it may be too early to defeat the Chiefs away from home.
Week 2 – Seattle Seahawks (Home): Win
The Thursday Night mini-bye gives the Lions more rest before their home opener against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle defeated the Lions by three points in the corresponding game last season, and it ultimately proved the difference as Seattle snatched the final Wild Card spot. Both these teams have young rosters bursting with talent, but a fresher Lions team in front of a ravenous Ford Field crowd should get Detroit across the line.
Week 3 – Atlanta Falcons (Home): Win
Another challenging test awaits the Lions in Week Three. The Atlanta Falcons’ high-powered offense, featuring Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, could cause Detroit problems. The Lions’ run defense was erratic and inconsistent throughout last season. On Christmas Eve against the Carolina Panthers, Detroit surrendered 320 rushing yards. Two weeks later, the Lions gave up just 103 rushing yards to the Green Bay Packers. If the Lions’ run defense stiffens up, and their offensive line blunts Atlanta’s middling pass rush, they should get the job done. The Lions are a more complete team than Atlanta.
Week 4 – Green Bay Packers (Away): Loss
The first division game of the season sees the Lions traverse Lake Michigan to play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Unlike previous Lions teams, Detroit should not fear playing at Lambeau. Furthermore, late September weather conditions in Green Bay are a lot more forgiving than the frigid conditions seen in December. Divisional games are often challenging to predict, and the advantage should lie with the home team on a short week.
Week 5 – Carolina Panthers (Home): Win
The Lions will host an improving Carolina Panthers team in Week Five. The Panthers bulldozed the Lions last season in a game where Dan Campbell said his team had their ‘teeth kicked in.’ The Panthers have bolstered their roster, but the Lions turned Ford Field into a fortress last season. Home form will be the bedrock of their season, and they are good enough, in front of an eardrum-piercing crowd, to get the win.
Week 6 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Away): Win
The Lions double-down on NFC South opponents as they travel to Florida to battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the Buccaneers in flux at various positions, it feels like these teams are on different trajectories. The Lions, top to bottom, have a better roster than Tampa. They should win.
Week 7 – Baltimore Ravens (Away): Loss
Arguably the most demanding road game left on the schedule after Week One, the Lions stay on the road and go to Baltimore. The Ravens are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. However, the Lions will get a speed boost to their offense; wideout Jameson Williams will be available after suspension. A healthy, fully fit Williams will turbocharge Detroit’s offense. Nonetheless, the Lions’ kryptonite has been zone-read style offenses. Despite a new offensive coordinator, Baltimore will still lean on Lamar Jackson’s legs. And the former MVP may be the difference.
Week 8 – Las Vegas Raiders (Home): Win
The Lions close out the first half of their season with a Monday Night Football matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders. Like Tampa Bay, it feels like Vegas is trending toward a rebuild. The Lions are younger and more settled, and there are concerns over Las Vegas’ offensive line. Detroit racked up pressures at an alarming rate over their 8-2 stretch last season. Do that again, and they will win this game.
Week 10 – Los Angeles Chargers (Away): Win
Returning from the bye week, the Lions head to Jared Goff’s former home for a date with the Chargers. Brandon Staley and Dan Campbell are now in their third seasons as head coaches. Both coaches are ultra-aggressive and abide by their philosophies. The Lions’ key to victory is running the ball on a team that employs a light-tackle box plan. Under Staley, the Chargers finished 29th in rush-defense EPA in 2022-23. If Detroit can run all over Los Angeles, they will run away from Los Angeles with a priceless win.
Week 11 – Chicago Bears (Home): Win
The Lions routed the Chicago Bears last season. Detroit hung 40 points on Chicago and sat Jared Goff in the final quarter; such was the beat down. A middling Bears defense will not have enough to corral the Lions’ offense.
Week 12 – Green Bay Packers (Home): Win
Thanksgiving Day starts with the Lions hosting the Packers. The Packers are 0-2 at Ford Field in the Dan Campbell era, and the Lions will avenge their road loss by winning a tight one on turkey day.
Week 13 – New Orleans Saints (Away): Loss
Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn return to the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans in Week 13. The Saints’ defense was a top-five scoring unit last season, and running back Jamaal Williams will be eager for a win over his former team. New Orleans is a notoriously difficult venue to visit. Although Jared Goff has some very happy memories there, it still might be a stretch to see Detroit winning this one against a grizzled veteran team.
Week 14 – Chicago Bears (Away): Loss
The Lions snatched a nail-biting one-score win over the Bears at Soldier Field last season. It was a back-and-forth game, with turnovers being crucial. These games tend to even themselves out over the years, and the Bears might snatch this one.
Week 15 – Denver Broncos (Home): Win
The master visits his apprentice as Sean Payton duels Dan Campbell for the first time in their careers. The Broncos will travel cross-country, and they will need to banish any jet lag, or the Lions could run riot. Detroit’s offense is a blend of speed and power, and in an indoor arena, they could race away from Denver. This game is the first of four that the Lions will play inside a domed stadium.
Week 16 – Minnesota Vikings (Away): Win
The last divisional road game takes place at US Bank Stadium in Minnesota. While the Vikings’ defense cannot get any worse from 2022, they are a unit with young, inexperienced players. Detroit’s offense feels too multidimensional for Minnesota.
Week 17 – Dallas Cowboys (Away): Loss
The Lions close out Monday Night Football at AT&T Stadium in a clash against the Dallas Cowboys. Detroit pushed Dallas for three-quarters last season before a goal-line fumble from Jamaal Williams tilted the game in Dallas’ favor. Inside Allen Park, coaches felt they let one slip away. But the Cowboys tend not to lose home games.
Week 18 – Minnesota Vikings (Home): Win
If all goes to plan, this game could be a division-crowning game. If the Lions are in a win-and-in situation, Ford Field will bury Minnesota under an avalanche of Honolulu Blue decibels. A nearly three-decade wait could come to an end.
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