When the Detroit Lions schedule first came out, we had a lot of preconceived notions about their opponents. Some games looked like sure wins, while others looked daunting. If the past has taught us anything, the outlook of a team before and after a season can be very different. So each week, we will look forward to the Lions’ future opponents and see how the team looks as opposed to what they looked like going into 2016.
Week 2 vs. Titans (0-1) - lost to Vikings, 16-25
It’s never a great day when your offense scores almost as many points for the opponents as your own team, but that’s exactly what happened for the Titans. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the first half, Marcus Mariota, deep in Vikings territory, threw a pick-six. Two possessions later, a fumbled snap was also returned for six and the Titans suddenly found themselves in a hole from which they couldn’t crawl out.
Defensively, the Titans did an amazing job holding Adrian Peterson and the Vikings to just 2.3 yards per carry, but they’ll need to do better offensively to cut it in the NFL.
Week 3 at Packers (1-0) - beat Jaguars, 27-23
As mentioned in our NFC North recap, the Packers barely escaped Jacksonville with a win. On a day that Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense were actually outdone by Blake Bortles, it was the Packers defense that was the team’s saving grace.
Up four with 23 seconds left, Green Bay needed a stop. Jacksonville faced a fourth-and-1 on the Packers 14-yard line. The Jaguars hadn’t punted since the first quarter, so it seemed like they wouldn’t be denied. However, a failed bubble screen ended their upset chances.
Week 4 at Bears (0-1) - lost to Texans, 14-23
The Bears seemed on a mission to prove their doubters wrong in the first half. After a huge red zone interception, Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery sliced up the Texans defense for a 14-10 lead at the break. But after halftime, the Bears just ran out of gas. In the second half they failed to put together a drive longer than 24 yards.
Defensively the Bears looked acceptable for most of the game, but rookie Will Fuller eventually tore up the secondary to the tone of 107 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Week 5 vs. Eagles (1-0) - beat Browns, 29-10
It’s hard to imagine that of all the Lions’ future opponents, the Eagles looked the best, but it’s absolutely true. Granted, they played the Browns, who figure to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this year, but Carson Wentz put up great numbers in his debut: 22-for-37, 278 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Defensively, the Eagles had some trouble stopping the run, allowing Isaiah Crowell to rush for 62 yards at 5.2 a carry, but they held Robert Griffin III to a completion percentage under 50 and no touchdowns.
We’ll have to keep our eye on the Eagles, as the Browns are a pretty bad team. However, Philly did what good teams are supposed to do: embarrass bad teams.
Week 6 vs. Rams (0-1) - lost to 49ers, 0-28
Speaking of embarrassingly bad teams, the Los Angeles Rams were god awful on the back-half of the “Monday Night Football” doubleheader.
Case Keenum was easily the worst quarterback in Week 1, begging the question: Just how bad has Jared Goff looked in training camp if he wasn’t even active over this quarterback depth chart?
There’s literally nothing nice to say about the Rams. They were gashed for 150 yards on defense, they punted a league-high 10 times on offense. Here’s the best thing I can put together: their kicker did not miss all night (0-for-0).
Week 7 vs. Washington (0-1) - lost, 16-38
Washington looked almost as bad in the first half of the “Monday Night Football” double feature. After a career year in 2015, Kirk Cousins took a step back in his encore performance. Though he completed an acceptable 69.8 percent of his passes, Cousins failed to drive Washington for a touchdown until late in the third quarter.
As the offense kept settling for field goals, the defense had trouble doing anything to stop the Steelers. Pittsburgh put up 435 yards of offense against Washington, averaging 8.1 yards per passing attempt and 4.9 yards per carry. By the night’s end, Antonio Brown was twerking over the corpse of the Washington defense.
Week 8 at Texans (1-0) - beat Bears, 23-14
The Brock Osweiler era in Houston is off to a good start. After shaking off an early interception, Osweiler connected with Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins for a combined 161 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, the Texans weren’t quite as dominant as they’ve been known to be, but they did hold Chicago to just 258 yards of offense, while sacking Cutler five times. It was a pretty impressive start to the season for the Texans overall.
Week 9 at Vikings (1-0) - beat Titans, 25-16
The Vikings struggled out of the gate in all aspects of the game. The offense failed to put the ball in the endzone in the first half, the defense gave up three drives of eight plays or more through two quarters, and Blair Walsh missed a pair of field goals, including a 37-yard chip shot.
However, the Vikings came out swinging in the second half, returning the opening kick for 61 yards. Though they never ended up scoring a touchdown on offense, a pair a defensive touchdowns put the game out of reach. There’s still a lot of work to be done in Minnesota—especially on offense—but this is pretty much the team we expected to see after Teddy Bridgewater went down.
Week 11 vs. Jaguars (0-1) - lost to Packers, 23-27
The Jacksonville offense looked as good as advertised in Week 1. Bortles threw for 320 yards at 8.2 per attempt. However, the running game was stifled against a questionable Packers defense. T.J. Yeldon ran for just 39 yards on 1.9 per carry.
Defensively, the Jaguars definitely looked improved. Desperately needed the ball back late in the fourth quarter, Jacksonville managed a big three-and-out to give their offense over three minutes to score the game winning touchdown. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, they came up 14 yards short.
Week 12 vs. Vikings (1-0) - beat Titans, 25-16
Week 13 at Saints (0-1) - lost to Raiders, 34-35
The Saints lost one of the most heartbreaking games of Week 1. In an offensive shootout, it looked like the Saints were going to come out on top, grabbing a seven point lead with just over six minutes left in the game.
However, as has become a tradition with New Orleans, the defense couldn’t hold a lead. The Raiders milked nearly the entire clock, driving 75 yards for the touchdown. Knowing the Saints defense couldn’t stop them, the Raiders boldly went for two and succeeded, taking a one-point lead with just 47 seconds left.
On a day where Drew Brees had a phenomenal performance, that was plenty of time for the Saints to get back into field goal position. However, Saints kicker Wil Lutz sailed a 61-yard attempt wide left.
Week 14 vs. Bears (0-1) - lost to Texans, 14-23
Week 15 at Giants (1-0) - beat Cowboys, 20-19
In another thrilling Week 1 game, the Giants took down their division rivals thanks to a last-second blunder from the Cowboys.
This game went back and forth through all four quarters. The Giants took the lead with just over six minutes left, and after both teams punted once more, the table was set for rookie Dak Prescott to lead the Cowboys to a game-winning drive with just 65 seconds left and no timeouts.
Dallas was slowly driving, but without the aid of timeouts, the clock was quickly drained. Prescott connected with Terrance Williams into Giants territory, but the receiver failed to get out of bounds and time expired.
Week 16 at Cowboys (0-1) - lost to Giants, 19-20
The Cowboys started two rookies at key positions on offense. Prescott’s debut wasn’t quite as impressive as his preseason performances, but he managed to avoid any major mistakes. Ezekiel Elliot’s first game in the NFL wasn’t too exciting, either. He ran for just 51 yards at 2.5 a carry, but did find the endzone once. Interestingly enough, it was Old Faithful Jason Witten who led the offense in yards.
Week 17 vs. Packers (1-0) - beat Jaguars, 27-23
Overall record: 7-8
So far, though the individual teams may look a little different than we expected in the offseason, the Lions schedule does still appear to be favorable. Only three non-division opponents ended up winning in Week 1. While the Vikings and Packers both proved no one is going to walk away with the division, Detroit made an equal statement in Week 1.