Dec 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Giants running back Michael Cox (29) returns a kick off during the overtime quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Schedule Analysis: Detroit Lions Will Be Challenged Greatly On Way to 8-8 Finish

As far as national media respect and attention goes, Detroit Lions’ fans have long called upon  a quote from the late, great Rodney Dangerfield.

“We can’t get no respect!”

Wednesday night, that dynamic changed in a big way, as the Lions managed to get their home opener, the first game of the year, on “Monday Night Football.” It will be only the second time in franchise history that the team will open their season with America’s biggest football show. The game is against the nationally relevant New York Giants to boot, lending to additional levels of respect.

Beyond that, the schedule presents it’s usual quiet challenges. There’s deceptively tough road dates with the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals, an interesting trip overseas to tangle with the Atlanta Falcons and fights with the up and coming Carolina Panthers, remade Tampa Bay Buccaneers and challenging Miami Dolphins. There’s also battles with classically tough foes like the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots.

Oh yeah, then there’s the little matter of the season’s finish, which will be as difficult as it seems to have been lately. Road dates with the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, both in the midst of a very rocky time weather-wise in the Midwest, will certainly prove challenging.

Those looking for their national ray of sunshine have only the home opener, and a classical matchup with the Bears on Thanksgiving Day to look forward to. The rest of the games on regular television figure to quietly test Detroit’s improvement and ability to “win now” from top to bottom.

Week 1: New York Giants at Detroit Lions (Monday Night Football): It’s hard to see Detroit losing this one to the Giants, especially with the charged up crowd ready for early-season action. W (1-0)

Week 2: Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers: The Lions struggled with Cam Newton the last time the teams met in 2011, and though Detroit won, they won’t be so lucky this time around. L (1-1)

Week 3: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions: This is the type of game many would expect Detroit to lose, but somehow, they find a way to beat the Packers at home for a big NFC North win. W (2-1)

Week 4: Detroit Lions at New York Jets: Even though the Jets have been a national punch line recently, they are tough at home, and the Lions fall victim to a tough Rex Ryan defense. L (2-2)

Week 5: Buffalo Bills at Detroit Lions:  Considering it’s at home, Detroit takes this one going away against Jim Schwartz’s defense and the Bills. (3-2)

Week 6: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings. With the exception of one season recently, the Lions just don’t win at Minnesota ever, no matter how bad the Vikings might be. L (3-3)

Week 7: New Orleans Saints at Detroit Lions: In a rematch of a Super Bowl head coaching matchip, Sean Payton proves he’s got the edge on Jim Caldwell again. L (3-4)

Week 8: Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions (London): Adjusting to a new environment and time zone won’t be easy for the Lions, but they’ll find a way to beat the Falcons. W (4-4)

Week 9: Miami Dolphins at Detroit Lions: The Dolphins will prove to be a quiet challenge, but the Lions manage to rise up and win one at home. W (5-4)

Week 10: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals: Is Arizona becoming the new Metrodome? The Lions just can’t win there. They couldn’t last year, and there’s no reason to beleive that will happen in 2014. L (5-5)

Week 11: Detroit Lions at New England Patriots: Bill Belichick is the class of coaching, and the Lions will play this game much closer than many think, but Tom Brady pulls one out in the end. L (5-6)

Week 12: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (Thanksgiving): After last year’s crushing win over the Packers, there’s no messing with Detroit on Thanksgiving anymore. A new winning streak is born this year. W (6-6)

Week 13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions: It won’t be the Buccaneers who beat Detroit in Ford Field last year, but with Lovie Smith, Tampa Bay gets a coach familiar with the surroundings. Detroit pulls it out, though. W (7-6)

Week 14: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions: Back at home, the Lions take care of the Vikings for a major late season win, giving them the chance to head on the road for a strong yet tough NFC North finish. W (8-6)

Week 15: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears: Last season, the Lions needed a goal line stand to survive the Bears in the Windy City. This year, that’s not happening, as the weather finds a way to halt Detroit’s winning ways. L (8-7)

Week 16: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers: With the notable exception of Wayne Fontes, no matter who is coaching, Detroit doesn’t win in Green Bay. Period. That’s especially true when it turns into the frozen tundra. Detroit finishes a maddening .500 with a frozen loss after having the chance to do much better. L (8-8)

Once again, Detroit finds a way to finish a very average and frustrating 8-8 when more was expected, leading to another interesting offseason for the team.

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