Detroit Lions: Schedule has several roadblocks amid difficult stretches

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Despite the uncertainty over the 2020 NFL season, the league announced schedules for the 2020 season; and on paper, the Detroit Lions will have a tough road ahead.

After four weeks of preseason football against the AFC East, the Detroit Lions will begin the 2020 season against two division rivals, two conference rivals, and a bye week. If events play out like they did last season, this quarter of the season will be the first difficult time in a grueling season.

Conference Opponents: NFC South (New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers), as well as the Arizona Cardinals, and Washington Redskins

On the surface, the NFC opponents appear winnable. Last season, the NFC South was a .500 division; however, this was buoyed by the Saints being the only team with a winning record. It could get interesting when the Lions take on the NFC South division opponents.

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This is already a very different-looking division, though, with both the Panthers and Buccaneers bringing in new quarterbacks (Teddy Bridgewater and Tom Brady, respectively).

Which team rises to the top of the division is anyone’s guess, but it should be more competitive than last year.

The other two NFC opponents had subpar seasons last year, but both are in positions to take a step up. On the one hand, the Redskins were on of the league’s worst teams last season (yet, they beat the Jeff Driskel-led Lions in Week 11).

The Cardinals, meanwhile, are already trending upward. This year will be the eighth time in the last nine seasons the Lions have matched up with them, against whom they are 2-4, not to mention last season’s disastrous tie.

Non-conference Opponents: AFC South (Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars)

Like their NFC counterparts, the AFC South was also a .500 division, although they fielded two playoff teams: the Texans and Titans. Of these two, the Titans look to be the bigger challenge. The Lions will have to travel to Nashville in Week 15 when the Titans are sure to be competing for a playoff spot once again.

There is a chance this game will be the hardest in December. The Lions will meet the Texans on Thanksgiving Day, as of now the only nationally-televised game of the year.

Toughest Stretch: Far and away, the most difficult span of games for the Lions is in the first month. Starting in Week 2, the Lions go to Green Bay, go to Arizona, and then stay home for the Saints.

That makes two out of three road games, as well as two out of three playoff teams who combined for 26 wins. The third team, Arizona, had one of the best drafts in the league, assigned an A+ by the experts at Pro Football Focus.

The Detroit Lions do open the year hosting the Bears, so September will not be near as sour if they can capture an early win against Chicago. There are two positive notes about this gauntlet of games, though.

For one, they will get these games out of the way early in the year and have the remaining three-quarters of the season to regroup. In fact, their December slate is comparatively light. Also, they do have a bye in Week 5 (the earliest possible date for a bye) immediately following the Saints game.

This means–in a worst-case scenario–a winless Lions team would have two weeks to reset for the Jaguars in Week 6.

Toughest Game: November 8th, at the Minnesota Vikings. For several reasons, the Vikings will be a formidable game for the Lions. First, the Vikings possibly had the best draft of the division, making an excellent case to improve on their 10-6 season.

They had two first-round picks, adding a receiver (to make up for newly-minted Buffalo Bill, Stefon Diggs) and improving their secondary. Furthermore, the Lions always seem to struggle in Minnesota. They are 4-17 on the road this century (and, interestingly, 1-7 in Week 9 since 1970).

At this point in the season, the Vikings might be taking the leap as the North’s playoff representative. It will be a crucial time of the year for the Lions as well: exactly halfway through the season will determine the direction of the rest of the season.

Of course, all we can do right now is compare teams to the last time we saw them in December or January. We have no idea which teams will breakthrough and which will regress. True, given what we saw out of the Detroit Lions and their opponents a year ago, it is not easy to come up with much more than six wins.

Trending. Detroit Lions 2020 Schedule: Will a 6-10 record be enough to save management?. light

Thankfully, however, football is not played on paper. As the saying goes: “On any given Sunday…”