In my quick reactions to the Detroit Lions’ 2022 schedule, I noted what a lot of people first realized upon looking at the slate: the Lions had no primetime games on the schedule. On the plus side, that means the Lions have a lot of consistency on their schedule, with every single game currently slated for 1 p.m. ET or 12:30 p.m. for the Thanksgiving Day game. On the negative side, it means the Lions won’t be on the national radar unless they earn their way onto Sunday Night Football via the NFL’s flexible schedule.
But what I didn’t note in that article is that the Lions hold the distinction of being the only NFL team without a primetime game.
Before we dig a little deeper into that, a caveat. Because the Lions play on Thanksgiving, they are not required to make an appearance on “Thursday Night Football.” You see, every team must have at least one Thursday game on their schedule. So if you’re not on Thanksgiving, you’re going to get a Thursday night primetime game. Teams like the Jets, Texans, Jaguars, Panthers, and Falcons only have one primetime game—the one necessitated by playing on a Thursday. If Detroit didn’t have the tradition, they’d be on that same list of teams with one primetime game.
Still, it’s a tad surprising to see the Lions not find their way onto one primetime game elsewhere. Detroit certainly has some buzz around it right now, and they could certainly generate some excitement thanks to their upcoming “Hard Knocks” appearance. People seem to generally believe this team could make a big jump from their three-win season last year, as evidenced by the bets flowing in for Dan Campbell as Head Coach of the Year in 2022.
You have to wonder if the Lions will use this as motivation going forward. Will they buy into the “Detroit vs. Everybody” mentality that has been surrounding this team? New Lions safety DeShon Elliott talked about the schedule with DetroitLions.com’s Tim Twentyman and said he wasn’t surprised by this development, and it’s their duty to prove they belong on primetime TV next year.
“You’ve got to expect it. Three wins (in 2021),” Elliott said. “All we can do is go out there and battle and compete and show them why—the following year—why we need to have primetime games.”