It’s finally here! The Detroit Lions 2023 schedule is out, and boy, this one looks a lot different than last year’s. Let’s just say the Lions are going to be playing a lot of football in front of everyone this coming season. After staring at the schedule until our eyes began bleeding, I came away with 10 opinions: five that I love about the schedule and five things I hate.
Big challenge right up front
I never thought I would see the day when the NFL would want the Lions to open the NFL season. This is a pretty big deal. It’s something the Lions have never done since the league started opening the season up on Thursday nights.
They drew a big-time opponent in this game, too. They’ll go one-on-one with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. This is a huge game with some big implications. Maybe not playoff implications, but tone setting implications. If the Lions can knock off the best team in football in Week 1, the momentum is right there in their favor going forward.
The Lions play four primetime games this season. Four! There’s the aforementioned outing with the Chiefs. Then there’s the Week 4 Thursday night football matchup with the Packers, a Monday night game against the Raiders in Week 8, and a Saturday night game against the Cowboys in Week 17. That’s just what’s scheduled now. The Lions could always flex into another game later. They have a fifth nationally-televised game against the Packers on Thanksgiving.
Great bye week placement
The Lions will take a break during Week 9 of the 2023 season—right smack dab in the middle of the season. After having byes too early or too late in the past, this is great. It would be nice If the Lions could maintain their health through the first eight weeks of the season. That’s something the Lions have struggled with in the recent past. If they continue to do so, this is a good spot to get right before making their final push towards the playoffs.
... or at least very little. The Lions final stretch is really nice for a team that’s really good indoors. In the month of December, the Lions play exactly one outdoor game. That’s against the Bears in Week 14. Other than that, it’s all indoors. They play the Saints in New Orleans before the Chicago game, then it’s Broncos at home, Vikings in Minnesota, the Cowboys in Dallas and then the Vikings at home. It could not lay out any better in the December and early January.
Early in the season, the Lions are facing off against teams with new, mostly-untested quarterbacks. After facing Patrick Mahomes in the opener, the Lions take on the Falcons (Desmond Ridder), Packers (Jordan Love), Panthers (Bryce Young) and Buccaneers (Baker Mayfield/Kyle Trask) all right in a row. It’s always better to get these inexperienced quarterbacks as early in their career as you can, before they settle in.
Then, in Week 7, Detroit will play a jet-lagged Ravens team coming off their trip to London. That’ll be Jameson Williams’ first game back by the way.
Big challenge right up front
I know the new thing around here is to not fear anyone. That’s cool and it is the way things should be, but there are still a lot of old Lions fan thoughts rattling around in the brains of Lions fans. I’ve seen some already giving the Lions and 0-1 start. I put this in the hate because I hate how quickly a loss to the literal best team in football could derail morale.
Packers on Thanksgiving
Boring! It’s not because of Jordan Love or the Packers potentially being a bad team. The feeling would be the same if Aaron Rodgers were still around and the Packers were great. Division games on Thanksgiving just seem so boring, especially when the Lions had an all out barn burner with an AFC team last season. It would have been nice to see just about any other team here.
West coast start
This is probably just a Mike Payton thing, but I’m putting it in here. The Lions play the Chargers in Los Angeles in Week 10. This, of course, comes with a 4:05 start time. I just hate it. It just offsets the entire day. Usually you can wake up and go get some breakfast before you settle in around noon and get ready for the game. Afterwards there’s time to have a life and wind down after you’ve completed all your work. If it’s a night game, you’re staying up late, but you had all day to do stuff before that. At 4:05, it’s just the worst of both worlds.
Division heavy finish
The expectation for this Lions team is that they’re going to win the NFC North en route to a playoff berth. In order to achieve that, they’re going to have to go through a bit of a divisional gauntlet down the stretch. The Lions play five of their six divisional games in the second half of the season. That’s five games in which division rivals are either trying to play spoiler or trying to win the division themselves. That could be tough outing.
This one is a soft hate. It’s cool that the Lions got so many primetime games, it kind of sucks that two of them are the night of football that everyone seems to collectively hate. I get that this hate comes from the NFL’s penchant for putting bad teams and bad games on this night and maybe they’re trying to correct that, but still. It’s Thursday and it has that stink around it for now. The two short weeks for the Lions could lead to some sloppy football.
The cool thing, though, will be watching the game with that cool Prime Vision feature when the Lions play the Packers on Amazon Prime Video.