The NFL schedule makers did not do Dan Campbell any favors this year. As the new Detroit Lions head coach tries to build a culture and convince both fans and players that he’s the right man for the job, he’ll have to go through a gauntlet during the first month of the regular season.
The Lions kicks things off at home against a 49ers team that still managed to notch six wins last year despite having the worst injury luck in the league by a pretty large margin. After that, it’s a road trip to Green Bay for a divisional matchup with the reigning NFC North champ Packers. Then it’s back home to host Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, before playing another road divisional game, this time against the Bears. Week 5 is their final divisional road game against the Vikings.
So in those five games, they play three teams that made the playoffs last year, have three road division games, and face off against teams with a combined record of 45-35 last year. It comes as no surprise, then, that NFL Network called Detroit’s first four games their toughest four-game stretch by projected win probabilities.
“The Detroit Lions are one of two teams, along with the Los Angeles Chargers, who have their toughest four-game stretch in Weeks 1 through 4 this season,” NFL Network’s data analyst Cynthia Frelund said during a recent segment.
Interestingly enough, per their data model, the least likely win for the Lions is their Week 1 matchup against the 49ers. Here’s a breakdown of their win probabilities listed for each game:
Week 1 vs. 49ers: 39.3% chance of a win
Week 2 at Packers: 41.1% chance of a win
Week 3 vs. Ravens: 40.8% chance of a win
Week 4 at Bears: 42.4% chance of a win
It’s hard not to agree that this four-game stretch will be the Lions’ toughest, but at the same time, the schedule is rarely as hard (or easy) as it seems in the offseason. You can watch the entire NFL Network segment—which breaks down each team in the NFC North—below:
Bears. Lions. Packers. Vikings.— NFL (@NFL) July 3, 2021
Which part of their 2021 season is make or break? (via @cfrelund) pic.twitter.com/D2CXYPpBJ8
- Some interesting data from our old friend Kent Lee Platte, AKA “MathBomb”
Doing some intern prep work and looked at the average #RAS of a Matt Patricia starting defender.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) July 5, 2021
The Rams over the same period:
2021 #Lions roster as you'd expect is probably a bit of a mishmash of the two.
- Jeff Risdon of Lions Wire takes a look at Detroit’s projected starting lineup on offense. Do you agree with every pick?
- Neat little infographic tracking the 15 best receiving seasons in NFL history by year. I’m pretty sure you know how this one ends, but keep an eye out for another Lions name or two:
- Last week, we noted that T.J. Hockenson was the only player that made NFL.com’s All-Under-25 Team. Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com took that one step further and listed five Lions players under 25 to watch.
- The Lions dropped a short hype video for training camp. Who’s going?