The Detroit Lions are pushing toward an important season on the field, and as much as roster construction and development, the challenge for the team now will be to navigate their schedule.
Due to some advantages in terms of travel as well as the teams they will play, most see the Lions in a good position this year to do some potential damage. That can only be true if the team navigates some potential land mines on their schedule, however.
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Since the ledger was revealed back in May, there’s been no shortage of takes about what represent the most vital games for the team this coming year. Adam Rank of NFL.com has his own ideas about the most important games for the Lions, and revealed his three most important contests in a 2022 preview piece.
According to Rank, he cites Detroit’s Week 2 home battle against Washington, a Week 10 date with the Bears in Chicago and Week 18’s finishing game against Green Bay at Lambeau Field as the most important games for 2022.
He writes, “although they are currently underdogs against the Eagles in Week 1 and the Commanders in Week 2, they need to take at least one of the two if they want to quickly erase the memory of last season’s woes.”
When it comes to the Bears, Rank sees the midseason contest as a major swing game given the way Detroit has played Chicago lately.
“The Lions were swept by the Bears last season. If Detroit is going to improve this year, these are the games it needs to win,” he wrote.
Finally, Rank writes in jest that Detroit’s season-finale in Green Bay could be for the division title, heightening its importance. Even though he may be kidding, there is a chance that the Lions and Packers could do major battle in 2022, making this game a potentially major one for Detroit if the chips fall well.
Add it up and these seem like good picks for games that Lions fans will want to circle for more than one reason this coming year, especially the contest against Chicago.
Detroit’s 2022 Start Very Team-Friendly
Rank is spot-on to cite Detroit’s early game against Washington as a key contest. As it was revealed pre-schedule release, the Lions won’t be traveling many miles this season, and that will play out early in the 2022 season given the team will play at home three out of the first four weeks of the season. Detroit starts with Philadelphia and Washington at home before hitting the road to take on a Minnesota team they narrowly lost to on the road in 2021. Then, they come back home to take on a drastically changed Seattle team that has seen some major reconstruction this offseason. The Commanders aren’t trending toward being one of the best teams in the league, and whether the Eagles look as good as they did at times in 2021 is anyone’s guess. That’s a very friendly way to start the year for Detroit.
Fans may roll their eyes, but there is a good shot for the Lions to start out 3-1, or at the very least 2-2 with this home-friendly setup, and the Washington game could be a huge one for this reason. The playoffs or a division title can’t be attained in the first four weeks, but a team can certainly play their way out of contention with a tough start and create some quick doubts about their season.
This year, it is setting up well for the Lions to get off to a much better start and perhaps get themselves on some radars nationally. If they beat the Commanders, this could end up as possible.
Other Important Lions Games for 2022 Season
It isn’t just the start that is vital for the Lions, but as Rank aptly points out, the end of the year as well. Come December, if Detroit can hold their head above water earlier on, the team may be set to make a playoff push as a result of their finish. On paper, from December 4 to January 8, the Lions will play four winnable games out of six contests based on the competition level from last year. That will start with a date against 2021’s other miserable team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mixed in as well is a date against the New York Jets, Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears at home. Few of those teams figure to have serious playoff aspirations for 2022, so this could set up a major run for the Lions if they are locked-in. The Lions will want to win as many games look good for them on-paper in order to have a chance at a big finish to the year.
All-told, the Lions have a good chance at finishing with a better record as Rank admits. It might take scratching out these three games in order to get that done, however.