The Detroit Lions schedule will be released tonight but since we already know their list of opponents, does it really matter? As it turns out, teams often have a set of things they look for, despite trumpeting the cliches about playing one game at a time as they come.
What teams look for in schedule release: bye week, games after Mon night, late-season home games. Coaches divide sched into quarters.
— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) April 23, 2014
As I Lions fan, I find myself running through the same things to look for when the schedule is released each year.
1. Road Game at Green Bay – Despite a road losing streak older than some Lions fans, I always have hope that this is the year the Lions win in the State of Wisconsin for the first time since 1991. The first thing I always look at when the schedule comes out is when the Lions hit the road to play the Packers. November in Green Bay is iffy, December is bad. This season will have a second potentially frigid divisional road game with the Minnesota Vikings playing outside at TCF Bank Stadium while their new stadium is under construction.
2. The Bye Week – Sometimes an early bye week can be a good thing if a team gets off to a bad start. That was the case in 2012 as the Lions took an early bye then had a little success before ultimately putting together the league’s longest active losing streak to end the season. However, the bye is best used to rest and recharge for the stretch run which means later is better. The mystery of when the bye week will fall on the schedule is gone this year with the Lions playing in London. Since that game has already been announced for week 8, we know the Lions will have their bye in week 9. With coaches liking to split the season in quarters, a bye week to split the season in half is nice.
3. Thanksgiving Opponent – The marquee game on the Lions schedule on an annual basis is the Thanksgiving Day game so it is one of the first things to check out on the schedule. Don’t be surprised to see the Buffalo Bills on the schedule for Thanksgiving Day 2014.
4. Primetime Games – Will Ford Field be the scene for any other nationally televised games besides the Thanksgiving game? Perhaps the Lions will play in primetime on the road? Definitely a highlight to check.
5. Home-Road Split – The Lions may face a road-heavy schedule to start the season considering the Detroit Tigers have home games on three of the four Sundays in September. Unless the early schedule is balanced with a Monday Night Football game, the Lions will likely have three road games in their first four. That’s a tough start but it means a home-heavy schedule later on in the season.