The 2022-2023 NFL schedule has been out for a few weeks. It is never a bad time to look ahead to bookmark some games that could prove to be significant for the Detroit Lions.
The Lions have been blessed with one of the easiest schedules in the league, with their opponents combining for a 135-154 (.467) record last season. However, teams have drastically changed during the offseason, so their previous records may be deceiving. Regardless, the Lions have a prime opportunity to make progress this season, not only in their win-loss record, but also in player development.
If you are looking to circle some games on your calendar, here are five you should be watching:
Week 1 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Detroit opens the new year at home against a team that demolished them last season. The Eagles came to Ford Field in 2021 and left with an easy 44-6 victory. This was one of the few games last season in the Lions schedule where they were complete no-shows. Detroit has a chance to get revenge right out of the gates.
The Eagles significantly improved during the offseason, trading for star WR A.J. Brown, signing LB Haason Reddick and CB James Bradberry, as well as drafting DT Jordan Davis in the first round of the 2022 Draft. Philadelphia has the firepower needed to win the NFC East and potentially make some noise in the playoffs. This will all hinge on QB Jalen Hurts, who has shown flashes of greatness, but also inconsistencies.
A lot of people think this game can go either way, but if the Lions were able to start the season 1-0 against a respectable Eagles team, that could give the fans some confidence that this season may be different.
Week 4 vs. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are admittedly on the steep decline after trading franchise QB Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, which makes this game all the more important for winning. Good teams are expected to beat inferior opponents, and this will be one of those games for the Lions.
Seattle only has a handful of young talent, and were not very active in free agency. They are currently having a QB competition between Geno Smith and Drew Lock, two players that would be clear backups on any other team. Without a good QB, they will finish as a bottom tier team. Especially in a tough NFC West division, it would be no surprise if they finished last in back-to-back seasons.
If the Lions cannot take care of business at home vs the Seahawks, then there will be some questions raised. Fans should not have to hit the panic button so early in the year, but if the Lions are a team many people think they can become, this game should be a win.
Week 5 @ New England Patriots
After hosting the Seahawks, the Lions will travel to Foxborough to take on the Patriots. This game definitely has some intrigue for Lions fans, as they will be playing against a familiar face in former HC Matt Patricia, who may be calling offensive plays for New England.
Getting a chance to beat Patricia and the Patriots would provide much needed relief to Lions fans who saw their team get decimated during the Bob Quinn-Matt Patricia era.
In terms of the game on the field, this should be a nice challenge for Detroit. The Patriots made the playoffs last season as a wild card and could return again this season. New England lost star CB J.C. Jackson to the Chargers in free agency, which the Lions could exploit with their improved WR room.
Ultimately, this game is about revenge for the Lions, and a win in this game would cause a lot of buzz.
Week 12 vs. Buffalo Bills (Thanksgiving)
The Bills are one of the toughest games on Detroit’s 2022 schedule. Of course the NFL would book this game for national television. Buffalo got bounced out of the playoffs in the Divisional Round last season, but they are a top favorite to win Super Bowl LVII.
Josh Allen is one of the best young QBs in the league, coupled with a great WR in Stefon Diggs. The Bills also added two-time Super Bowl champion LB Von Miller to their defense. They are clearly all-in this season.
This game seems like a clear loss, but who knows how each of these teams will look by this point in the season.
If the Lions have made any significant progress in the first half of the season, then maybe this game can be competitive. Once again, this game is a much-needed test for the Lions in how this season will be evaluated. Hopefully, this game is not one-sided.
Week 18 @ Green Bay Packers
Not to be overly optimistic, but this game could have playoff implications for both teams. Ending the season with a division rival can be hit-or-miss, as seen last season. The Packers rested their starters in the second half of Week 18 in Detroit, as the Lions went on to win. Traveling to Green Bay to close the season, however, will be tough considering the weather conditions.
Even though the Packers traded away WR Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, this is their division to lose. As long as they have Aaron Rodgers at the helm, they have a fighting chance. The Lions and Vikings made some nice offseason moves so the NFC North is expected to be more competitive this season.
If the Lions do find themselves in the wild card hunt late in the season, this game will be make or break. It is too difficult to predict how the Lions and Packers will look by the end of the season. These two teams always provide some entertaining contests, and hopefully this game lives up to that.
From Week 1 to Week 18, the Lions will need to prove themselves to their fans and the rest of the league. They were a scrappy team last season, but could not translate their grit into wins. The Lions can make some noise this season if all goes right. These games will serve as checkpoints in evaluating the overall season and any optimism moving forward.