The NFL released the Detroit Lions’ 2022 schedule Thursday night. Here are some notable elements with the slate.
► Detroit has an opportunity to get off to a fast start with three of their first four games at home, and only one of those opponents having qualified for the postseason a year ago.
The Lions open the season at Ford Field against the Philadelphia Eagles, who snuck into the playoffs as the final seed in the NFC by virtue of a head-to-head, tie-breaking victory over the Saints earlier in the year.
The opener is a rematch from last season, and one the Lions would like to forget. The Eagles came to town on Halloween and dominated from start to finish, walking away with a 44-6 victory and sending the Lions into their bye week with an 0-8 record.
Following the game against the Eagles, the Lions stay home to battle the newly rebranded Washington Commanders. The game will pit the Nos. 1 and 2 picks from the 2016 draft against each other in Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, who Washington acquired in a trade this offseason.
Those back-to-back contests against NFC East foes leads to a divisional road game against Minnesota. The Vikings are entering their first season under coach Kevin O’Connell, who replaces Mike Zimmer after eight seasons. The rivals split their home-and-home series last season, with the Vikings narrowly escaping with a victory at home in Week 5 before losing to the Lions on a last-second touchdown pass in Week 13, giving the team its first win of the season.
The Lions wrap up the first segment of the season returning home to face the Russell Wilson-less Seattle Seahawks. The franchise moved on from their longtime quarterback this offseason, trading him to Denver for a package of draft picks and players, including new projected starting QB Drew Lock.
The Lions had no answer for Wilson and the Seahawks offense last season, surrendering 50 points for the first time in four years in a 51-29 defeat.
► Detroit’s bye comes relatively early in the season, Week 6. That period of rest is sandwiched between two difficult road games against 2021 playoff teams, New England and Dallas.
Expect to see plenty of rehashing and contrasting the current Lions squad with versions from a few years back, when former Patriots staffers Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia were running the show here. The latter has since landed back in New England and is serving as a senior football adviser to coach Bill Belichick.
This obviously is not the same caliber opponent as when Tom Brady was under center, but the Patriots remain disciplined and efficient on both sides of ball, content to grind out victories.
As for the Cowboys, they’re coming off a year where they had the NFL’s most-explosive offense (coordinated by former Lions quarterback Kellen Moore) and a top-10 defense led by dynamic Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons.
► The Lions have generated some buzz this offseason with the way they’ve handled the early stages of their post-Patricia rebuild, even being named as the featured team on HBO’s documentary series “Hard Knocks.”
Still, the league’s interest in showcasing the Lions has its limits. The team will enter the season without a primetime game on the resume. Obviously, there’s always the chance one gets flexed into a primetime slot later in the year, contingent on the Lions having unexpected early-season success.
Not only is Detroit not slated to be on primetime, the team does not even have a 4pm start on the docket thanks to a lack of west coast trips this year.
► The lone nationally televised game will be Detroit’s annual Thanksgiving matchup. This season, the team will play the Buffalo Bills on the holiday for the first time in nearly three decades.
Detroit is 2-0 against Buffalo on Thanksgiving, winning 27-14 in 1976 in a game where OJ Simpson ran for a single-game record 273 yards, and 35-21 in 1994 when quarterback Dave Krieg threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns.
It figures to be difficult to maintain that perfect mark this year. The Bills are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl this season, led by star quarterback Josh Allen and prized free-agent addition Von Miller.
► Speaking of holidays, the Lions will be hitting the road for Christmas this year. Fortunately, they’ll avoid having to play on Christmas Day, but they do have a Christmas Eve matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
The date likely sparks mixed emotions for Lions fans. In 2011, the team secured its first playoff berth in a dozen years, thumping the Chargers at home, 38-10. But six years later, a listless Lions team fell to a struggling Bengals squad on the road, eliminating them from playoff contention and sealing the dismissal of coach Jim Caldwell at season’s end.
► Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown joked about hoping to avoid cold-weather road games, but that wish wasn’t granted. Ahead of the team’s Christmas Eve trip to North Carolina, the Lions will battle the Jets on Dec. 18, where temperatures are typically in the high 30s / low 40s.
That’s not terrible, assuming there’s no significant precipitation. It’s the season finale in Green Bay that’s potentially daunting, when freezing temps are a near certainty.
This will be the seventh time in the past 10 years the Lions have ended the season against the Packers, but only the third time at Lambeau Field. The Lions won the last such meeting, 31-0, in 2018. Both teams were already eliminated from playoff contention heading into that matchup and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers exited the game early after suffering a concussion.
Week 1, vs. Atlanta, TBD
Week 2, at Indianapolis, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 28 at Pittsburgh, 4:30 pm (CBS)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Philadelphia, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 18 vs. Washington, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 25 at Minnesota, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2 vs. Seattle, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9 at New England, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 6: Bye week
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23 at Dallas, 1 pm (CBS)
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30 vs. Miami, 1 pm (CBS)
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6 vs. Green Bay, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13 at Chicago, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20 at NY Giants, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 24 vs. Buffalo, 12:30 pm (CBS)
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4 vs. Jacksonville, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11 vs. Minnesota, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18 at NY Jets, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24 at Carolina, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1 vs. Chicago, 1 pm (FOX)
Week 18: Sat / Sun, Jan. 7/8 at Green Bay, TBD (TBD)