Allen Park — The Detroit Lions will open on the road, followed by a stretch against three playoff teams from a year ago and close the 2019 season hosting the Green Bay Packers.
The NFL released the schedule for all 32 teams on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from Detroit’s draw.
A tough start
For the first time in three years, the Lions will open the season on the road, taking a long flight to Phoenix to face the Arizona Cardinals. That also means it could be the second consecutive year the Lions open the year against a rookie quarterback. The Cardinals hold the No. 1 pick in next week’s draft and are currently projected to take Oklahoma standout, and Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray.
The good news for the Lions is they beat the Cardinals at their place last season, snapping an eight-game road losing streak to the franchise. The bad news, the Lions return home to Ford Field to start what appears to be the season’s most brutal three-game stretch. It begins with a home game against the Los Angeles Chargers, then back on the road to Philadelphia, before returning to Ford Field to face the Kansas Chiefs.
That’s three opponents who made the playoffs last season and should all be in the mix to return to the postseason in 2019. If the Lions can split the first four games, they’ll be in good shape.
Another early bye
For the second straight season, the Lions get an early bye. Last year it was Week 6, this year, Week 5. Most players prefer a bye later in the season, as opposed to playing 10-12 consecutive games without a break.
Last season, the Lions delivered their most complete performance after the bye, going down to Miami and pummeling the Dolphins. The Lions will be back on the road after the break this year, to face the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.
That Monday night game against the Packers is the only time the Lions are scheduled to play in primetime this season. That probably shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Lions are coming off a disappointing 6-10 season and don’t carry many players who could be considered national draws, like Calvin Johnson was a few years back.
Of course, if the Lions exceed expectations, they could always see a game flexed into primetime later in the year.
That opener in Arizona has the potential to be a hot one. Temperatures often hit 100 in the desert during the month of September.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Lions should avoid freezing temperatures in Green Bay this season with that game scheduled for Oct. 14. And early November is hardly the worst time to make a trip to Chicago. But things could get dicey just before Christmas when the Lions fly to Denver to battle the Broncos. Average temperatures are typically in the 40s that time of year, but you never know when you might catch a snow storm in the Mile High City.
As previously reported, the Lions will host the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving. That’s a rematch of last year’s game and the 18th time the two teams will have met on the holiday.
This will also mark the fourth consecutive season the Lions close out against the Packers. The Lions dominated last year’s meeting, shutting out the division rival on the road, 31-0.
Lions 2019 schedule
Week 1: Sun. Sept. 8, at Arizona, 4:25 p.m., Fox
Week 2: Sun. Sept. 15 vs. Los Angles Chargers, 1 p.m., CBS
Week 3: Sun. Sept. 22 at Philadelphia, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 4: Sun. Sept 29, vs. Kansas City, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 5: Sun. Oct. 6, BYE
Week 6: Mon. Oct. 14, at Green Bay, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
Week 7: Sun. Oct. 20, vs. Minnesota, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 8: Sun. Oct. 27, vs. New York Giants, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 9: Sun. Nov. 3, at Oakland, 4:05 p.m., Fox
Week 10: Sun. Nov. 10, at Chicago, 1 p.m., CBS
Week 11: Sun. Nov. 17, vs. Dallas, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 12: Sun. Nov. 24, at Washington, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 13: Thurs. Nov. 28, vs. Chicago, 12:30 p.m., Fox
Week 14: Sun. Dec 8, at Minnesota, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 15: Sun. Dec. 15, vs. Tampa Bay, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 16: Sat./Sun., Dec. 21/22, at Denver, TBD, TBD
Week 17: Sun. Dec. 29, vs. Green Bay, 1 p.m. Fox