The Detroit Lions’ expectations aren’t lowered because they have a new coach. The immediate goals remain winning the NFC North, hosting a playoff game and hopefully earning the franchise’s first postseason victory since 1991.
But it’s not going to be an easy task for Matt Patricia. CBS Sports has run the numbers, and the Lions face the second-toughest slate of opponents in 2018, based on 2017 results.
Obviously, a lot can change over the course of any offseason, and no one can anticipate what type of injuries teams will battle during the year, but on paper, Detroit faces a brutal schedule.
The order won’t be known for a couple more months, but we have the opponents. Outside of the divisional matchups, the Lions host the Rams, Seahawks, Panthers, Jets and Patriots and travel to battle the 49ers, Cardinals, Cowboys, Dolphins and Bills.
Combined, that group had a .535 winning percentage. And that’s with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers missing most of the season, and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot sitting out six games due to suspension.
Even the 49ers, which might have previously been looked at as a cupcake matchup, is tricky with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm. The NFL’s new highest-paid player is 7-0 as a starter in his career, including leading the 1-10 49ers to five straight wins to end last season.
Only the Packers face a tougher group of opponents, largely because of the Lions’ 9-7 record last season. Green Bay’s opponents had a .539 winning percentage in 2017.
Each team’s schedule consists of two games with each division opponents, a rotating AFC and NFC division and two teams from the other divisions within your conference, correlating with where you finished in the standing the previous year.
This year, the NFC North matches up against the AFC East and NFC West. As the second-place finisher in the division, the Lions also play the second-place team from the NFC East (Dallas) and NFC South (Carolina).