On Thursday night, the NFL released the official 2013 schedules. Among the highlights of the Detroit Lions was a home Monday Night Football game for the second time in three years. In 2013, the Lions will take on the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on December 16th.
Back in 2011, the Lions defeated the Chicago Bears in their first home Monday Night Football game in quite some time. Last season, the Lions were featured on Monday in an away game once again against the Bears. The 2011 game was a victory vs. Chicago, while last year the Lions did not get a win during primetime coverage.
The Monday Night Football game is the sole primetime game the Lions will have in 2013 barring any changes. However, the Lions will also see a national television audience during their annual Thanksgiving Day Game. The Lions have appeared in 72 Thanksgiving Day games and will continue the tradition in 2013 with a matchup against the Green Bay Packers. To make matters worse, this game will come four short days after the team’s game in the previous week.
The Lions kick off the season with a home game against NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. The team will also end the season with the away contest with the Vikings. These are winnable and important games as the NFC North should once again be competitive and was the best division in 2012 in terms of wins.
In 2012, the Lions started out with a 4-4 record, before losing out to finish 4-12. This year, the Lions will hope to get to a winning record before their bye week in Week 9. The Lions need to go 4-4 or 5-3 before the bye week to have a realistic shot of making the NFL Playoffs. The back half of the schedule features away games at Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Minnesota.
Perhaps the biggest test of the season will come with the last three games, when the Lions take on the Ravens, New York Giants and Vikings. These three games could realistically determine whether Detroit enters the postseason. Fans will be hoping that the team still has something to play for other than a high draft pick by that point of the season.
My initial reaction to the season is a 9-7 record. I will have a more detailed breakdown of each game in the coming days so stay tuned.
Chris Katje is the featured Detroit Lions writer for Rant Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter.