The list of home opponents was already known so the release of the 2012 regular season schedule probably isn’t going to send anyone rushing to buy season tickets that wasn’t already going to. However, the way the schedule shakes out will have an impact on people looking to pick out one or two games to attend in person.
Here’s my ranking of each of the home games:
8. Week 8 vs. Seattle Seahawks
A team coming from a long way away would seem to have some appeal since fans in Detroit due to a general lack of exposure but the Seahawks have mostly been “out of sight, out of mind”. The 49ers figure to roll through the NFC West and the NFC is too strong for a team like the Seahawks to challege for a wild card. It’s possible that the biggest draw will be to see those new uniforms Nike is making for the Seahawks.
7. Week 4 vs. Minnesota Vikings
The NFC North will be a very competitive division but that won’t have anything to do with the Minnesota Vikings. Still, it is always important when a division rival comes to town but that is the only thing that boosts this matchup above the game against the Seahawks.
6. Week 13 vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts aren’t the same team that they were a few years ago – especially now that Peyton Manning is with the Denver Broncos – so this game doesn’t carry the kind of weight it once did. The highlight here is a chance to see the Lions play against presumed number one overall pick Andrew Luck.
5. Week 1 vs. St. Louis Rams
This game figures to have more intrigue off the field than on it. It will be the first time Jim Schwartz coaches against Jeff Fisher and there will probably be a lot of talk about Matthew Stafford facing Sam Bradford. It’s possible that Bradford would have been the Lions pick instead of Stafford had he declared for the 2009 draft. The Lions will be heavily favored but there is something extra special about the first game of the season – that’s worth a few spots in the rankings.
4. Week 12 vs. Houston Texans
The defending AFC South champions come to town for the annual Thanksgiving Classic. It is always a hot ticket anyway but you can turn up the temp a few more degrees with a quality opponent coming to town.
3. Week 11 vs. Green Bay Packers
The Packers remain the team to beat in the NFC North and this game is the Lions best chance to get the best of them this year. The stakes will be high as a win would mean an awful lot, including a chance to win the division and host a playoff game. When a division rival is the best team on the schedule, you know the house will be loud.
2. Week 17 vs. Chicago Bears
It’s easy to forget that the Bears and Lions were neck and neck for a playoff spot last season before injuries ravaged the Chicago offense. If both teams can stay healthy in 2012 this could be a very important season-ending game for each side.
1. Week 16 vs. Atlanta Falcons
A lot of Lions fans will be preparing for a long weekend with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day coming the following Monday and Tuesday and is there a better way to get it started than a Saturday night game between two potential playoff teams? It was week 16 when the Lions clinched a playoff berth last season and a festive Ford Field crowd could witness it again.