Finally, the NFL has officially dropped the Detroit Lions’ schedule for the 2022 season, and unsurprisingly, there are plenty of storylines to be discussed and followed in the aftermath of the reveal.
The Lions will play an intriguing schedule this coming season that offers plenty of quirks for the team, both positive and negative. Looking deeper, there are some interesting takeaways that can be gathered before the first game has even been kicked off.
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What snap judgements can be made about this schedule now that it’s out? Here’s a look at some quick early takeaways for the team.
Detroit’s Start Looks Very Team-Friendly
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. 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.
Bills vs. Lions Will Be Fun for Thanksgiving Day
After some duds the last handful of years in the NFC North between the Lions and Bears and an unappealing matchup sprinkled in with Houston in 2020, finally, the NFL handed the Lions a compelling storyline on Thanksgiving Day to spice up the early game. Detroit will host Buffalo, and it will be a fun matchup not just for the league, but for the fanbases as well. With both teams, there is a long-struggling yet passionate fanbase that loves their squad deeply. Each side hasn’t tasted loads of football success, and knows more football disappointment than happiness. Both squads also have some young gun players, and it isn’t a stretch to say the Lions want to build to where the Bills have gotten with Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Sean McDermott and company. Entering 2022, they are serious Super Bowl contenders.
If Lions fans want to look into the mirror and see what they could be in another two or three years, they might need look no further than this matchup with Buffalo. The Bills may well win the game, but the contest could be a good measuring stick for the Lions’ rebuild, especially if Detroit could pull off what many would see as a huge upset.
Schedule Could Help Detroit’s Late-Season Push
During a lost 2021 year, much was made about how strong the Lions finished against all odds and tough competition. This year, providing Detroit doesn’t flail early, there is a chance the Lions could use a late post-Thanksgiving push to perhaps get themselves into playoff contention. From Week 13-17, the Lions will play teams that on paper, they should have a good chance at beating prior to finishing at Lambeau Field. Over that stretch, their toughest games could well be against either Minnesota at home or the New York Jets on the road. That sets Detroit up for either an epic fail to finish a lost season of tanking, or a legendary push to write an improbable playoff story. Regardless, right now, this finish is looking as if it could be mighty favorable for the Lions and play a determining factor in how the 2022 season plays out.
No Lions in Primetime? No Problem!
Once again, the Lions aren’t a darling in the eyes of the national media, securing no primetime or nationally televised games other than Thanksgiving Day. The Lions are going to fly under the radar in a big way this season, but with Dan Campbell, Hard Knocks and some of the personalities on the team, it’s not going to stay that way forever, especially if the team starts to win. The Lions could actually use a lack of primetime games to their advantage. First and foremost, most of their weeks will be regular, which will help for game planning and preparation in practice. Additionally, they won’t have the bright-light pressure that comes with some of the bigger primetime games on the slate. Sometimes, primetime can mean prime problems for the Lions. That’s not going to be the case much this year, which could help a young team find its footing.
NFC North Setup Could Benefit Divisional Hopes
Before everyone freaks out, this isn’t a prediction that the Lions are going to end their divisional drought that’s beyond old enough to drink in 2022. Looking deeper, though, the Lions do have a favorable balance in terms of their games against NFC North foes. Detroit starts with a Week 3 road game against Minnesota, and doesn’t tangle with a divisional foe again until Green Bay at home in Week 9. With one game at home and considering Detroit beat each team last year, this could give the Lions a chance to go at the very least 1-1 early divisionally. Second half battles against Chicago, a home game against Minnesota and the season finale against the Packers in what could be a snowy Lambeau Field gives Detroit a chance to at least linger in the race. The division could well beat themselves up early and leave Detroit lurking as a dark horse contender.
If the Lions get some mojo going late-season, it could set them up to make a run at the division given the lack of games they’ll play early on head-to-head against their closest rivals, who will all be healthy at that time.