When the Detroit Lions 2013 regular season schedule was released last night, my rush judgement was a sense of satisfaction. We already knew who the opponents would be so there wasn’t anything to complain about there, and the way the schedule was crafted (check it out here) left me with a lot more positive takeaways than negative.
Here are a few:
- Balance – A quick glance at the schedule shows that the second half is probably going to be tougher than the first half. While that may be true, the schedule makers did balance that out by sending the Lions on the road for four of their first six games and giving them four home games in their last six. Balance is also maintained with no more than two straight weeks at home or on the road. The Lions schedule had a stretch of three consecutive home games in 2012.
- Weather not a factor – The Lions slate of road games could have set them up to have to deal with a lot of bad weather. However, only the December 8 game in Philadelphia looks to have the potential to bring weather-related issues. Games at Washington, Green Bay, Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh are early enough in the season that chances are good the Lions will be playing in at least decent weather.
- Redskins in week 3 – Robert Griffin III is doing all he can do to be ready for the start of the regular season as he works his way back from ACL surgery. Even if he is able to meet that aggressive timetable, will he be the dynamic player he was a year ago when at 100%? Maybe but probably not so facing him early in his return to the field has to be seen as a good thing for the Lions defense.
- Week 9 bye – The NFL season is a grind so I generally like to see the bye week scheduled at or near the halfway point. That is exactly what the Lions get in 2013. Of course, the best time for the bye depends on how the early portion of the season plays out. The 2012 Lions certainly needed a week off after their 1-3 start in which they couldn’t make a special teams tackle. We’ll see what happens but at this point in time, the Lions bye falls exactly where I’d want it.
While I like the way the Lions schedule shapes up overall, there are a few things that I’m not particularly fond of:
- Packers on Thanksgiving, again – 2013 will be the fourth consecutive time, and sixth out of the last seven times, the Green Bay Packers will be in Detroit for Thanksgiving in years the Lions host an NFC opponent. Is it just me or is this getting really old? The Bears would have offered a good classic matchup and the Bucs would have been a brilliant pick with the thinking that throwback uniforms are likely to be worn (hello NFC Central creamsicles). But alas, it’s the Packers again. Feels like we might as well put them down for the 2015 game as well…
- Hosting MNF late in the season – Don’t get me wrong, it is awesome the Lions-Ravens game at Ford Field made the Monday Night Football schedule. I just wish it was earlier in the year. The way things can change from this time of the year to late in the year, it is tough to know just how hot a ticket this will actually be. Not only that, the downtown bars and restaurants may not benefit as much from a late season night game as it would from a game earlier in the year when the weather is better.