Lions must take advantage of early fan-less road games

Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions have some tough early road games on their 2020 schedule.

When the Detroit Lions’ 2020 regular-season schedule was released this past spring, it seemed almost unimaginable that any of those games could be played in an empty stadium.

However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic now threatening in-person attendance at NFL games this fall, the Lions could be facing some significantly different settings as they look to remedy their recent away-game struggles.

With just four road wins over the last two seasons, the Lions have posed little threat to their opponents when traveling outside of Michigan. They will get some early tests again this season.

The Lions face a challenging opening quarter of their schedule, and cannot afford a slow start. After their season opener at Ford Field against the Chicago Bears, they travel to Lambeau Field to face another division rival in the Green Bay Packers in Week 2. However, it will be a much different experience than in previous years.

Could having no fans in attendance help solve their problems away from Ford Field?

One of the NFL’s most loyal and boisterous fanbases will be conspicuously absent as the Packers recently announced that no fans will be in attendance for their first two games, as confirmed by the Green Bay Press-Gazette. It will be a jarring sight for the Packers, who currently have an incredible six-decade-long home sellout streak, according to Yahoo! Finance.

To their credit, the Lions have won two out of their last three games in Green Bay and came within a few controversial calls of another victory last season.

An empty Lambeau Field. It’s hard to imagine.

Week 3 could offer a unique experience as well when the Lions visit the Arizona Cardinals. State Farm Stadium is a familiar place to the Lions; they have played in Glendale in five of the past eight seasons, winning just once. They will have to contend with 2019’s first overall draft selection, quarterback Kyler Murray, a popular pick to be 2020’s breakout star.

However, it’s unclear if they will have to contend with a sea of raucous red-clad fans. The Cardinals recently sent a general letter to fans, outlining a potential reduction in permitted attendance this season, as per, including this telling excerpt:

"“Based on the latest available information, the likelihood that we will be able to play all of our games in front of a full-capacity crowd is very low.”"

Some of the Lions’ later road opponents this year have also made adjustments to their home attendance plans in hopes of reducing the spread of the virus, as per USA Today. The Atlanta Falcons, whom the Lions visit in Week 7, will have a maximum attendance of 20,000.

The Washington Football Team, whom the Lions will play in Week 10, will not have any fans at home games to start the season. Both teams also stated that these policies could be revisited later in the year, depending on the trajectory of the pandemic.

The Lions got off to a promising 2-1-1 start last year, including a 1-1 mark on the road, before the wheels came off. However, it will take more sustained, consistent performances away from Ford Field in 2020 if they want to be a threat; the six NFC playoff squads from 2019 averaged just under six road wins in the regular season. No easy feat, fans, or no fans.

Detroit Lions - 5 best individual defensive seasons since 2010. dark. Next

Will stadiums devoid of deafening crowd noise help the Lions fix their road woes? Can they take advantage of less hostile opposing environments? We’ll get a good idea of how much it will assist them after the first quarter of the season.