The NFL announced this week they will be revealing the 2020 schedule on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. For fans, it’s a fun event—especially this year—simply as a signifier that we’re closer to football. It still remains to be seen whether this season will start on time, but the NFL appears to be moving forward under the impression that it will, and that’s bound to drum up excitement.
And while the actual reveal itself doesn’t provide a ton of new information—we already know the Lions’ 16 opponents for the 2020 season—there are some things we’ll learn on Thursday that are valuable to both the fans and the team. For instance, if you’re an out-of-town fan from Atlanta, you’re going to want to know the date the Lions play the Falcons on the road. Or if you’re a fan of primetime games, the schedule release is always a fun date to see how many nationally-televised games the Lions managed to book.
Here are five things I’m hoping to see on the Lions’ 2020 schedule.
A later bye week
For the past two years, the Lions have had somewhat strong starts to the season. Unfortunately for them, they’ve also had really early byes in both years (Week 5 in 2019, Week 6 in 2018). Obviously, the early bye wasn’t the reason for Detroit’s collapse in both seasons, but it certainly didn’t help when the team struggled through injuries late.
One of the first things players look for when a new schedule drops is the bye week, and I can tell you with certainty they hate the early bye weeks, forcing them to go often 12 weeks in a row without a true break.
A non-Packers Week 17 opponent
I know the league made Week 17 a divisional opponent on purpose to draw out potential division-clinching scenarios in the final week of the season, but for whatever reason, they’ve been obsessed with Lions vs. Packers lately. Detroit has played Green Bay on Week 17 four years in a row. Give me the Bears or Vikings this year.
A new Thanksgiving opponent
Along the same lines, the NFL schedule makers have given us some stale Thanksgiving matchups over the past few years.
2019 - Bears
2018 - Bears
2017 - Vikings
2016 - Vikings
2015 - Eagles
2014 - Bears
Let’s throw someone new into the tradition. Hell, bring Tom Brady and the Buccaneers here on Thanksgiving for a throwback to the Central Division days. Or who wouldn’t want to see Drew Brees and the Saints come marching in on Thanksgiving? Just someone new, please.
Early Lambeau game
This is always one of the first things I look at when the schedule drops: How cold is it going to be in Lambeau when the Lions make their trip there. Lately, the Lions have actually lucked out, playing in Green Bay prior to Thanksgiving four out of the past five years. Obviously, playing at Chicago is another important date on the schedule regarding the weather.
The Lions are actually a bit lucky in that their outdoor away games outside the division are in relatively warm climates (Arizona, Tennessee, Carolina, Jacksonville).
At least one home primetime game
Ford Field doesn’t have a great reputation as one of the louder stadiums in the league, but on a special Sunday or Monday night, that place can compete with almost any venue in the NFL. Some of my greatest Lions memories came in that stadium on a Sunday or Monday night. The Sunday night win over the Patriots for Matt Patricia’s first victory. The Jahvid Best game against the Bears in 2011. And don’t forget Calvin Johnson’s record-setting night back in Week 17 of 2012.
The Lions are going to be a hard sell for primetime coming off a three-win season, but it’d be nice if the NFL threw them a bone once this year.