The Detroit Lions have many obstacles to overcome to become a playoff contender in 2020. And it appears the schedule did them no favors early.
Last week, the NFL released the schedule for their upcoming 2020 regular season. And for the Detroit Lions, it’s a roadmap to redemption.
For the past two seasons under head coach Matt Patricia, the Lions have failed to live up to even the most modest of expectations. The former Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator took over a 9-7 team in Detroit from 2017 and essentially drove it into the ground. All under the guise of forcing a culture change in the Motor City.
After posting an underwhelming 6-10 record in 2018, Patricia and company followed that up with a 3-12-1 season last year. Yet, as many predicted, the absence of quarterback Matthew Stafford for eight games due to injury earned the current regime in Detroit a mulligan.
But that do-over came with a not-so-subtle mandate from Lions’ owner Martha Firestone Ford. She expects her team to be a playoff contender in 2020. If Detroit fails to meet that expectation, the job security of both Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn would likely be in severe jeopardy.
With a slew of offseason changes including a new defensive coordinator, moving on from three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, the replacement of the entire right side of the offensive line, free agency losses and additions, and the results of the 2020 NFL Draft; the Lions are more Patricia’s team than ever.
And with the reveal of the NFL’s regular-season schedule last week, we know now the path the Lions must take to find redemption for two back-to-back lackluster seasons. But according to one longtime NFL writer, that schedule might have already doomed Patricia and Quinn in Detroit for 2020.
Here’s what Peter King wrote in his weekly series for NBC Sports, Football Morning in America, about the Lions getting the short end of the stick when it came to their upcoming regular season schedule.
"“Who got jobbed? Detroit. Not terribly, but the Lions have one home game in September, one home game in October, three home games in November, and three home games after Dec. 1. Detroit is home one day between Sept. 13 and Halloween. Not optimal. If they start 1-5, the Lions will be playing for the draft for two months.”"
Out of their first eight games of the 2020 NFL regular season, the Lions will only play a total of three homes at Ford Field. Also, consider that the Lions will have a bye in Week Five. Still, it’s believed most teams play better at home than on the road. But what about in Detroit?
The Lions have won a total of nine games under Patricia since 2018, five of which have been won at Ford Field (55.5 percent). Over that same two-year span, Detroit’s offense has scored an average of 21.06 points per game at home as opposed to an average of 20.5 on the road.
Defensively, the Lions allowed an average score of 27.5 a game to opposing teams at Ford Field over the past two seasons. And Detroit’s defensive unit allowed just 21.43 points per contest during their combined 16 away games since 2018.
Based on those numbers, the Detroit Lions have often performed better on the road than in their home stadium. So starting the majority of the upcoming season on the road might actually be a good thing for Matt Patricia’s Lions. But it’s clear this team will have to become road warriors early if they hope to play meaningful football this December.