The Detroit Lions have been locked into a last place finish in the NFC North for a few weeks now. The St. Louis Rams’ victory today sealed the same fate for the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West and that has ramifications for the Detroit Lions in 2013.
There isn’t any magic to the way the NFL determines each team’s list of opponents. Home and away dates with division foes make up six of the sixteen games. Another eight games are determined by rotation that matches an entire division against one AFC division and one NFC division. The NFC North will be matched up against the AFC North and NFC East in 2013.
The last two games are filled in by intra-conference opponents that finish in the same place in their respective divisions. That’s where the Cardinals come into the Lions’ picture.
The Lions’ list of 2013 opponents now looks like this:
Home games: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, 4th Place NFC South
Road games: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals
That leaves just one spot to fill on the Lions’ 2013 schedule with the Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints being the game to watch in week 17. A win by the Saints sends the Panthers to the NFC South cellar and onto the Lions’ 2013 schedule.