A lackluster 2015 season apparently made the Lions less attractive to the NFL’s schedule makers for 2016.
After having three prime-time games last season, the Lions have just one night game next season, playing in Dallas on ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football” in Week 16.
Among the most noteworthy games comes in Week 1 as the Lions will open the season in Indianapolis, where coach Jim Caldwell spent seven total seasons working for the Colts. The season opener kicks off at 4:25 p.m. on FOX.
Besides the Monday night game, the Lions’ Thanksgiving game against Minnesota is the only one scheduled to be televised nationally. With the Lions only playing one Thursday game, they will wear their alternate, "color rush" jerseys on Thanksgiving. The Sports Business Journal reported in February that the Vikings were the likely opponent, and the 12:30 p.m. game will air on CBS, a rarity for an all NFC game.
As far as competitive balance, the schedulers didn’t do the Lions any favors at the start of the year with three of the first four games on the road. The Lions were visitors in three of their first four games last season and eventually started 0-5 before finishing 7-9.
The Lions will close at home for the first time since 2012 with a Week 17 game against the Packers on New Year’s Day. The last time the Lions finished the season at Ford Field they lost to Chicago to close on an eight-game losing streak.
Out of the 16 games, 13 are scheduled to have a 1 p.m. kickoff. If the Lions are in the thick of the playoff race, though, they could be flexed into a different time slot in a late-season game. The NFL is doing flex scheduling for Weeks 10-15 and Week 17 this year, though the Lions wouldn’t be eligible in Week 12 with the Thanksgiving game.
Here is the full Lions schedule for 2016:
Week 1: Sept. 11 at Indianapolis, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Week 2: Sept. 18 vs. Tennessee, 1 p.m. on CBS
Week 3: Sept. 25 at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Week 4: Oct. 2 at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX
Week 5: Oct. 9 vs. Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on FOX
Week 6: Oct. 16 vs. Los Angeles, 1 p.m. on FOX
Week 7: Oct 23 vs. Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX
Week 8: Oct. 30 at Houston, 1 p.m. on FOX
Week 9: Nov. 6 at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX
Week 10: Bye
Week 11: Nov. 20 vs. Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on CBS
Week 12: Nov. 24 vs. Minnesota (Thanksgiving), 12:30 p.m. on CBS
Week 13: Dec. 4 at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX
Week 14: Dec. 11 vs. Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX
Week 15: Dec. 18 at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
Week 16: Dec. 26 at Dallas (Monday), 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
Week 17: Jan. 1 vs. Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX