2020 NFL schedule release: Detroit Lions divisional rivals

Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

The 2020 NFL schedule is live! SideLion Report examines the upcoming season’s slate for each of the Detroit Lions’ NFC North opponents, including key match-ups and outlooks.

The NFL’s strange and uncertain offseason rolls along with the recent release of the 2020 schedule. For the Detroit Lions, another difficult 16-game set awaits, and the pressure to rebound from a dismal 2019 is unmistakable.

The Lions’ opponents this year compiled a .525 winning percentage in 2019, tied for the fifth-highest in the league, boosted by a pair of playoff teams from their division. Last year, the Lions went winless against the rest of the NFC North for the first time since 2012.

Clearly, taking into account the ongoing global health crisis, the caveat that drastic changes or truncations to the NFL schedule are possible must be considered. However, rest assured that if modifications become necessary, completing teams’ divisional slate would take precedence.

Additionally, each NFL team is set to have the same bye week as its Week 2 opponent, which would ease the burden of tricky rescheduling maneuvers should they be necessary. We likely will not know the extent or necessity of these measures until much closer to the season’s beginning.

As with other years, two games during Weeks 5-10 are allowed to be flexed to a primetime slot, as well as any game in Weeks 11 to 16, depending on the significance of the matchup, potential playoff repercussions, and certain television network protections. The Lions currently have no primetime games scheduled other than their traditional Thanksgiving Day game; a three-win season tends to have that effect on a team’s subsequent campaign.

As part of the NFL’s out-of-division and out-of-conference schedule rotation, the NFC North will play against teams from the NFC South and AFC South this year. Each of these groups of teams will present a different set of challenges for the Lions and their division-mates, with several notable player arrivals and departures.

With the jaw-dropping offseason acquisition of legendary quarterback Tom Brady by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the NFC South boasts one of the most experienced, decorated and daunting group of signal-callers ever contained within one division. Just look at some of the numbers.

Collectively over their careers, Brady, the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees, and the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan have totaled 746 starts, over 200,000 passing yards, 1,409 touchdown passes, five All-Pro selections, four MVP awards and 11 Super Bowl appearances (including seven wins). Wow.

Similar to 2019, the Lions must navigate an onerous opening four-game stretch prior to their bye week, and as we’ll discover, they are not the only team in the NFC North with a rugged opening quarter of the season.

So how do their divisional foes’ schedules line up? Let’s examine each one, starting with the Chicago Bears….