The 2023 NFL season is still a ways away. We’re about to enter that dead zone between the NFL Draft and training camp. Now is the time to talk about what lies ahead for the Detroit Lions. We already talked at length about the schedule, now let’s talk about the quarterbacks that populate that schedule. Let’s take a look at which passers the Lions will have to deal with in 2023.
Chiefs — Patrick Mahomes
Right off the bat, we have the biggest fish of them all. Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL. I don’t think there’s really any debate about that. When the Lions take the field on the first night of the NFL season, they’ll have to contend with a player who coming off both a regular season MVP and a Super Bowl MVP. He’s managed to keep all his weapons intact for the most part. Travis Kelce, Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore are still in town. This is going to be a rough outing for the Lions.
Seahawks — Geno Smith
I have a hard time figuring out of Smith is good, or if he just perfectly worked out for the Seahawks. I think it’s the latter. Either way, Smith tore the Lions up in 2022. He threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran one in. Granted, the Lions defense had not quite found itself to be the better unit that it wound up being down the stretch of the season, but the Seahawks still whopped on the Lions. And Detroit wasn’t alone. Smith finished the season top 10 in yards (4,282), yards per attempt (7.5), touchdowns (30), and passer rating (100.9).
This offseason, Seattle went out and got Smith a great weapon in the draft when they took Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Complementing him with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett forms a formidable trio for the Lions. That said, Detroit’s defense should be a lot better equipped to handle it this go around.
Falcons — Desmond Ridder
Now we trend into the unknown. The Falcons took Ridder in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He wound up starting four games for the Falcons in his rookie year and didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard. He threw for 708 yards and two touchdowns. He’s slated to be the team’s starter going forward and he’ll get a chance to go against the Lions early in the season. He’ll have Drake London and Bijan Robinson along with him.
Packers — Jordan Love
The Lions will finally get to take on Jordan Love as the Packers full-time starter after Aaron Rodgers has retreated to the AFC. We’ve seen very little of Jordan Love. He’s mostly come in if the game is won or if the game is out of reach. He did have one start during the 2021 season and it did not go well. He threw one touchdown and one interception in a 13-7 loss to the Chiefs. He did play a lot in another game that season. That game was, of course, against the Lions. He threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball in a 37-30 loss.
Love will have a lot of work ahead of him in 2023. He’ll have to show he’s the Packers’ new guy while Green Bay tries to avoid going through a bit of a rebuild.
Panthers — Bryce Young
The Lions will host the No. 1 overall pick this season. People seem to be pretty split on Young. You either think he’s going to be a bust because of his small stature or you think that doesn’t matter and he’ll succeed. I’m not sure which camp I’m in. I can tell you that I believe he was the best college quarterback in the draft. Whether that translates into the pro game remains to be seen.
Buccaneers — Baker Mayfield
I still can’t believe that this is route the Buccaneers have decided to take. Mayfield played for two different teams last season and both experiences were pretty bad for him. The Panthers wound up giving up on him pretty quickly after six starts. After failing to find a trade partner, they released him and he signed with a desperate Rams team. Other than one come-from-behind victory over the Raiders, Mayfield didn’t have much good to talk about in Los Angeles.
At this point, we know what Mayfield is. He’s an inconsistent quarterback who has moments. The Lions just have to make sure one of those moments don’t happen against them.
Ravens — Lamar Jackson
Another former MVP is facing the Lions in 2023. Lamar Jackson is a dangerous weapon who can both launch the ball and kill you with his feet. The Lions actually handled him quite well when the Lions faced played the Ravens in 2021. The Lions held him to a 51 percent completion percentage and even picked him off. They managed to keep him from beating them with his feet, too—even though Jackson and the Ravens eventually walked away with the win. He’s coming into this game with a much better receiving corps—including newly-added Odell Beckham Jr.—but the Lions are also a much better team these days. This one could be interesting.
Raiders — Jimmy Garoppolo
The Lions will take on the best looking quarterback in the NFL right before the bye. Unfortunately for him, his good looks don’t always translate to him being good at football. Like Mayfield, he’s been inconsistent throughout his career, but he is definitely better. Garoppolo was having a nice little season in 2022 before he went down with another injury. If he plays like that, it could be a problem. If he plays like he did the year before, the Lions shouldn't have too much to worry about.
Chargers — Justin Herbert
Herbert is a tough out for any team in the league. The guy can play and the Chargers are always good because of it. He’ll have some extra weapons this season who could be a problem for the Lions defense. First-round pick Quentin Johnston is a guy I was really high on. They’ll pair him with the always dangerous Keenan Allen and there could be a lot of deep threat issues for the Lions.
Bears — Justin Fields
It’s the not the passing that worries me. We have still yet to see Justin Fields succeed at consistently passing the ball in the NFL. The running, on the other hand, is terrifying. We’ve seen it first hand. Fields ran all over the Lions last season and it made things really hard for Detroit. If the Lions haven’t fixed their run defense, Fields is likely to run all over them again. As for the passing game, he actually has a guy to pass to now that D.J. Moore is in town. We’ll see where that goes.
Saints — Derek Carr
Things with Carr and the Raiders sure didn’t end well. The team wound up benching him for the last two weeks of the season in favor of Jarrett Stidham. Maybe I’m crazy, but I didn’t think Carr was really the problem for the Raiders. Now that he’s in New Orleans, I think that’ll show. I think he makes the Saints offense a lot better. Chris Olave and Michael Thomas should love him. The Lions might hate him. Then again, maybe the Raiders saw something I didn't and this won’t work out.
Broncos — Russell Wilson
Is Russell Wilson done? That’s the big question here. His performance last season really points to the idea that he is indeed done. Still, you have to wonder if things will change now that he has the coach he wanted in town. Sean Payton is known to have some high-powered offenses during his time as a head coach. Of course, he had Drew Brees under center for almost every one of those seasons. Once Brees was gone, those offenses went down a bit. What can he do with Wilson? If it isn’t much, the Lions shouldn’t have much to worry about here.
Vikings — Kirk Cousins
Nothing new here. We know what we’re getting with Cousins. He’ll either burn you or burn himself. Sometimes he’ll even do both. We saw that last year when he had some big throws despite doing it in a loss.
Cowboys — Dak Prescott
The Lions managed to keep Prescott mostly off the board in 2022. He was playing in his first game back from injury, though. You never quite know what you’ll get out of Prescott. Sometimes he’ll beat the hell out of you like he did to the Lions in 2019 when he threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns. Other times he’ll play like he played in the playoffs last season and you’ll wonder what the Cowboys see in this guy. Which Prescott will the Lions see this time?