Lions release 2013 football schedule
Monday Night Football will be coming to town for only the second time in the 12-year history of Ford Field when the Detroit Lions face the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on December 16.
It's the Lions' lone prime-time appearance in 2013 in a NFL schedule that was released Thursday night.
The last time the Lions played at home on Monday Night was in 2011 when they defeated the Chicago Bears before an electrifying crowd to open the season with a 5-0 record en route to a playoff bid.
The Lions have another marquee match-up at Ford Field set for November 28 against Green Bay in a Thanksgiving Day game that will be televised by FOX.
This has become an odd-numbered year tradition. The Lions and Packers also played on Turkey Day in 2011, 2009 and 2007.
This time, the Lions will be trying to end a nine-game Thanksgiving Day losing streak.
Detroit will open the season at home for the second straight year. The Lions play Minnesota on September 8 before going on the road for four of their next five games. Detroit finishes the season with four of its last six at home.
A year ago, the Lions received the maximum five marquee TV appearances — one on Monday Night, two on Sunday Night, one on Saturday Night, plus the annual Thanksgiving game.
It's a little different this year.
The Lions went from 10-6 and the playoffs in 2011 to 4-12 and last place in the NFC North in 2012. They lost their final eight games, including five at home.
They're not as attractive as they were a year ago at this time, but still good enough to land on Monday Night for the third straight season.
Besides the annual home-and-home series with each of their division foes, the Lions will play four games against the NFC East (New York Giants and Dallas at home, Philadelphia and Washington on the road); four against the AFC North (Baltimore and Cincinnati at home, Cleveland and Pittsburgh on the road); one against the NFC South last-place team (Tampa Bay at home); and one against the NFC West last-place team (Arizona on the road).
Here's a game-by-game breakdown (opponent's 2012 record in parenthesis) with a prediction that is subject to change following training camp:
September 8: vs. Minnesota (10-6)
Coming off a surprising playoff run, the Vikings are the type of team that could take a big step backward, similar to what the Lions did a year ago.
September 15: at Arizona (5-11)
A quirk in the schedule sends the Lions back to Arizona, where they were humiliated 38-10 by the Cardinals late last season.
September 22: at Washington (10-6)
One of seven games the Lions play against teams that went to the playoffs last season. The question is will Robert Griffin III be back from knee surgery?
September 29: vs. Chicago (10-6)
The Bears have won nine of the last 10 games in the series with Detroit's only victory coming on that Monday Night two years ago.
October 6: at Green Bay (11-5)
The Lions, on a 22-game road losing streak to the Packers, are going to win there one of these centuries, aren't they?
October 13: at Cleveland (5-11)
The Lions will be making their second trip to Cleveland in less than two months. They also play there on August 15 in the second preseason game.
October 20: vs. Cincinnati (10-6)
The Bengals have made the playoffs both of quarterback Andy Dalton's two years but then got knocked out in the first round.
October 27: vs. Dallas (8-8)
Both of these coaches — Detroit's Jim Schwartz and Dallas' Jason Garrett — will be on the hot seat if they fail to make the playoffs again.
November 10: at Chicago (10-6)
Detroit will try to break a five-game losing streak at Soldier Field. This could be one of those swing games when it comes to the Lions' playoff hopes.
November 17: at Pittsburgh (8-8)
The Lions make their first visit to Heinz Field since 2006 against a motivated club that's not used to missing the playoffs the year before.
November 24: vs. Tampa Bay (7-9)
The Bucs won 10 games in 2010, four in 2011 and seven in 2012. The Lions won 10 in 2011, four in 2012 and ... perhaps seven this year?
November 28: vs. Green Bay (11-5)
The last time the Lions won on Thanksgiving was in 2003 against the Packers. The Lions have been swept by the Pack six of the last seven years.
December 8: at Philadelphia (4-12)
The Eagles, who lost at home to the Lions last season, will try be trying to make a turnaround under former college coach Chip Kelly.
December 16: vs. Baltimore (10-6)
The Ravens will do just what the Giants did last year - fail to make the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl - because of losses like this one.
December 22: vs. New York Giants (9-7)
Look for a bounce-back year for the Giants, but the Lions will use the momentum generated by their Monday Night victory to find a way to win another.
December 29: at Minnesota (10-6)
Another historically tough place to win for the Lions, who have dropped 14 of their last 15 trips to the Metrodome.
FINAL RECORD: 9-7