The Detroit Lions’ 2021 schedule is out, and that means it’s time to throw caution to the wind and recklessly throw some half-hearted predictions out here. Yes, we all know that it is far too early to make any sort of estimated guesses at what happens in the fall. Hell, we don’t even know who will be the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback in Week 1.
But schedule release day has become a holiday on the NFL annual calendar, and as long as we all admit up front that these predictions are for entertainment purposes and come with very little actual analysis or information, then we can proceed and have a little fun. Okay? Okay.
Here are my way-too-early, game-by-game predictions for the Lions’ 2021 season. Feel free to @OldTakesExposed me in January.
Week 1 — vs. 49ers — Sunday, September 12
The 49ers are expected to bounce back in a big way after last year’s disappointing, injury-filled 6-10 season. They’re currently projected to win 10.5 games this year, but the big question is who will be the starting quarterback in Week 1. Will they throw Trey Lance into the big show right away or let Jimmy Garoppolo try to keep his job?
Jared Goff knows the 49ers well, but his track record (3-5) isn’t great against them. I think this will be a close one, but ultimately the 49ers win. (Lions 0-1)
Week 2 — at Packers — Monday, September 20
Nothing bad has ever happened in Lambeau on Monday night. Nothing at all. But I just don’t think the Lions are going to be able to overcome the
refs Packers on national television. Packers win.(Lions 0-2)
Week 3 — vs. Ravens — Sunday, September 26
Just as the doubt starts to slip in that Dan Campbell was a potential mistake, he pulls off a massive upset at home. The Lions are most improved on the defensive interior, so they may match up well against a run-heavy team like the Ravens. Lions win. (Lions 1-2)
Week 4 — at Bears — Sunday, October 3
While all of the focus in Chicago is on shiny-new quarterback Justin Fields, everyone seems to forget that this team is hemorrhaging on the other side of the ball. The Bears lost a handful of defensive coaches, along with Kyle Fuller, Buster Skrine, Roy Robertson-Harris, and Barkevious Mingo. .500, here we come! Lions win. (Lions 2-2)
Week 5 — at Vikings — Sunday, October 10
The Vikings had a solid draft, but it feels like their window may have closed after a disappointing 2020 season. Still, they’ve got a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and I’m not counting out Mike Zimmer getting the defense fixed after a down year. Vikings win. (Lions 2-3)
Week 6 — vs. Bengals — Sunday, October 17
While I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Joe Burrow hype die down a little in 2021, the truth is the Bengals arrow is pointing up and pointing up hard. I’m not ready to call them contenders in the AFC North, but I think they may be closer than some people believe. Bengals win. (Lions 2-4)
Week 7 — at Rams — Sunday, October 24
The Rams could regress defensively after losing their defensive coordinator and several starters on that side of the ball, but I don’t expect this to be close. Matthew Stafford will wonder what could have been if he was facing off against the Lions for all these years. Rams win. (Lions 2-5)
Week 8 — vs. Eagles — Sunday, October 31
The Eagles’ front office is a mess, and while plenty like their draft, there’s not a lot else about to like about this team right now. I think they may be further behind in a rebuild than the Lions, to be honest. Lions win. (Lions 3-5)
Week 10 — at Steelers — Sunday, November 14
The Lions haven’t beaten the Steelers since 1998—the infamous coin flip game on Thanksgiving. I don’t like using the past to predict the future, and I won’t do it here. The Lions are a far different team than they’ve been over the past few years, and the Steelers finally seem like they’re on the downswing.
Okay, I admit it. This is punishment for Pittsburgh for taking a running back in the first round of the draft. Lions win. (Lions 4-5)
Week 11 — at Browns — Sunday, November 21
For the third straight year, I’m predicting this is the year everything comes together for the Browns for them to be real AFC contenders. They broke the streak last year, and they’ll take another step in 2021. Browns win (Lions 4-6)
Week 12 — vs. Bears — Thursday, November 25
Get this game off of Thanksgiving, please. No one wants it there. #WeOwnTheBears. Lions win (Lions 5-6)
Week 13 — vs. Vikings — Sunday, December 5
Every year, I’m more scared of the Vikings than I should be. This year will be no exception. To be fair, though, Minnesota has won seven straight in this rivalry. Vikings win (Lions 5-7)
Week 14 — at Broncos — Sunday, December 12
If this is Aaron Rodgers’ final landing spot, this one could get hairy. If not... well, the Lions could still be in trouble, because Denver is a hard place to win. Denver’s not a good team, but by this point in the season, the Lions’ depth is likely going to be tested, and spoiler: it’s not good. Broncos win (Lions 5-8)
Week 15 — vs. Cardinals — Sunday, December 19
This year, it’s the Lions’ turn to host the annual random game with the Cardinals. These games always seem to be a toss-up, regardless of where each franchise is currently at. Goff brings more familiarity here, and a lot more success. He’s 7-1 against the Cardinals in his lifetime. Make it 8-1. Lions win (Lions 6-8)
Week 16 — at Falcons — Sunday, December 26
Not even Kyle Pitts can resuscitate the waning career of Matt Ryan. Atlanta is going through a rebuild right now, but unlike the Lions, they kind of half-measured it. By this point in the season, Falcons fans will be scouting 2022 quarterbacks hard. Lions win. (Lions 7-8)
Week 17 — at Seahawks — Sunday, January 2
Seattle is a cursed place. You can play your best football there and still lose on the final play of the game when Russell Wilson throws a touchdown pass that bounces off two Lions players and an official before landing in the lap of an unsuspecting Seahawks receiver. Seahawks win. (Lions 7-9)
Week 18 — vs. Packers — Sunday, January 9
Let’s just not talk about it. Packers win. (Lions 7-10)
What will the Lions’ record be in 2021?
This poll is closed