Allen Park — The Detroit Lions’ 2017 schedule has been unveiled. Here are our quick observations from the release (complete schedule below).
Early home cooking
Last year, team president Rod Wood asked the NFL for a home game to close out the season and the Lions were granted a finale against the Green Bay Packers. Asked if he made any requests this year, Wood acknowledged he was hoping for a more favorable start to the campaign, with at least two of the first four games at home.
Once again, Wood’s request was granted.
The Lions will play two of their first three at Ford Field, including the season-opener against the Arizona Cardinals. After a trip to New York to play the Giants on Monday Night Football, the Lions return home to host the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.
With benefits like this, sacrifices come later in the season. This year’s annual Thanksgiving game will be sandwiched between three road trips. The good news for the Lions is they’ll only have to make the short trip to Chicago before the holiday classic.
Some national attention
As long as you can handle losing a few hours of sleep, there are few things more exciting than seeing your team play on national television. The Lions are getting plenty of love this year. Beyond the Thanksgiving game, a local tradition, the Lions will be featured nationally four times, including three prime-time matchups.
As noted, the Lions play the Giants on Monday Night Football in Week 2. Then, in the middle of the season, they will be under the lights back-to-back weeks, with the Steelers coming to town for Sunday Night Football on Oct. 29, followed by a trip to Lambeau on Monday night Nov. 6.
The Lions also have a late-season Saturday matchup with the Chicago Bears that will be featured on NFL Network.
Let’s be honest, getting off to a strong start is going to be a challenge. The Lions play four playoff teams in the first eight games, with three of those games in prime time. Additionally, Arizona, Carolina and New Orleans are all poised for bounce-back campaigns and a road game in Minnesota is never an easy task.
But if the Lions can go 4-4 through this stretch, they’ll be in good position to push for a playoff spot. They open the second half with a reasonable trio of games — home against Cleveland, at Chicago and hosting Minnesota. Add a home game against Chicago and a less-than-daunting road game against Cincinnati and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Good time for a bye
Most players don’t pay too much attention to the schedule release, but the one thing almost all of them check is when the team has their bye.
The later the bye, the better. The Lions didn’t do too bad with their break coming in Week 7, especially since that time off leads into those back-to-back prime-time matchups with the Steelers and Packers.
Color Rush opportunity
The Lions unveiled four new uniforms last week, including an all-gray Color Rush look. Typically, those are reserved for Thursday night games, but the Lions don’t have one. So will those uniforms be utilized in 2017?
Well, that remains to be seen, but that Saturday matchup against Chicago sure makes a lot of sense. Wood also said he wouldn’t rule out using the team’s throwback looks on prime-time matchups.
Turkey Day déjà vu
For the second consecutive season, the Lions will play the Vikings on Thanksgiving. It’s just the fourth time the teams have met on the holiday and first time they’ll play each other consecutive years.
The Lions swept the season series from their division rival last season with cornerback Darius Slay playing the hero in the comeback win at Ford Field. After Matt Prater tied the score with a 48-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining, Slay intercepted Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford on the ensuing possession to set Prater up with for a 40-yard winner as time expired.
A chance for revenge
Things didn’t go as well against the Packers. With the NFC North crown on the line in the season finale, the Lions fell short against the division’s gold standard at Ford Field, 31-24.
While there’s no guarantee the stakes will be as high, Detroit has the good fortune of closing the season at home against Green Bay again this season.
After home victories in 2013 and 2014 in the series, the Lions will be looking to stop a two-game skid against the Packers in Detroit.
DETROIT LIONS 2017 SCHEDULE
Sun. Sept. 10, Arizona, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Mon. Sept. 18, at N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sun. Sept. 24, Atlanta, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sun. Oct. 1, at Minnesota, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sun. Oct. 8, Carolina, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sun. Oct. 15, at New Orleans, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sun. Oct. 29, Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Mon. Nov. 6, at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sun. Nov. 12, Cleveland, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sun. Nov. 19, at Chicago, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Thur. Nov. 23, Minnesota, 12:30 p.m. (FOX)
Sun. Dec. 3, at Baltimore, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sun. Dec. 10, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sat. Dec. 16, Chicago, 4:30 p.m. (NFL)
Sun. Dec. 24, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sun. Dec 31, Green Bay, 1 p.m. (FOX)
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