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Detroit Lions have 21st-toughest strength of schedule in 2017

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We know it’s early, but the Lions’ schedule looks promising.

Detroit Lions v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Though the full schedule of the Detroit Lions’ 2017 season will not be released until April, every team in the NFL knows the home and away games they will be playing next season. If you need a reminder as to what the Lions’ schedule looks like, we had a post on it back in January.

Now, it’s already insanely early to start talking about strength of schedule considering most teams haven’t even made a decision on which free agents they will be keeping, let alone made any selection in the NFL Draft or added any other players via free agency. However, we do have a general idea of where teams stood in 2016 and where their trajectories may take them into 2017. And, come on, it’s the offseason. We have to talk about something.

Thankfully, the Minnesota Vikings’ official website calculated the strength of schedule for every NFL team, based on the win/loss record from 2016.

The Lions are tied for the 21st-hardest schedule, facing opponents with a combined winning percentage of .469. Detroit actually has the second-easiest schedule in the NFC North, which may seem counterintuitive considering that schedules are made specifically to help out teams that finished at the bottom of the division. However, the Chicago Bears don’t get to face the 3-13 Chicago Bears twice next year, so it makes sense that they actually has a “tougher” schedule next year.

The Lions will also play five games against 2016 playoff teams next year, but, thankfully, three of those games (Packers, Falcons and Steelers) will be at Ford Field, where the Lions are 17-7 over the past three years. In 2016, the Lions had five games against teams that would eventually make the playoffs. Detroit lost all five of those games.

While this schedule on the surface looks a bit tougher than 2016’s schedule, it’s still somewhat favorable in comparison to the rest of the league. While that outlook could very much change in the next six months, there’s reasons for optimism at the moment.