2021 Detroit Lions, NFL schedule release live updates: The schedule is out!

Detroit Free Press

The 2021 NFL schedule dropped at 8 tonight (NFL Network).

The Detroit Lions, in the first year of the league’s new 17-game schedule will face the league’s sixth-toughest schedule, including three pairs of back-to-back road games.

The Freep’s Dave Birkett made his 2021 predictions already, right here.

He also took a deeper look at some more interesting tidbits on the schedule. You can check those out right here.

Here are live updates and observations from Wednesday morning before the full schedule release:

BIRKETT: Lions’ 2021 predictions: Will they top 6 wins in 17-game season?

The Detroit Lions won’t be shut out of prime time after their disappointing 2020 season.

The Lions will visit the Green Bay Packers in Week 2 for a Monday night game, according to WDUZ radio in Green Bay.

This marks the second time in three years the Lions and Packers will play an early-season Monday night game. In 2019, the Packers beat the Lions on Monday Night Football, 23-22.

Aaron Rodgers threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns in that game. As of now, Rodgers remains Green Bay’s starting quarterback. The other Packers star in that game? Running back Jamaal Williams, who had 149 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown.

More: How Detroit Lions RB Jamaal Williams has an epic way to honor the women in his life

Williams was one of the Lions’ top free agent signings this spring.

The Lions will have at least one cold-weather game this year: They travel to Denver to face the Broncos for a Week 14 game Dec. 12.

The Broncos are the Lions’ “17th” opponent, a team they would not otherwise have played if not for the expanded regular season schedule. And the big question is, who will be the Broncos quarterback?

Current Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has hinted that he wants out of Green Bay, and his rumored preferred destination is Denver. Rodgers, of course, has given the Lions plenty of winter heartache over the years, and if the Broncos are able to swing a trade he might just do it again. If not, the Lions likely will be facing Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater.

Either way, Dan Campbell’s team will have to contend with the elements and altitude while playing what could be a snow game at Empower Field.

The Detroit Lions will host the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving, according to Bleacher Report, making it the third time in four seasons the country will have to stomach that matchup before eating its Thanksgiving meal.

The Lions have lost four straight Thanksgiving games, including 2018-19 games against the Bears (23-16 and 24-20).

In 2018, with Chase Daniel starting in place of an injured Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears scored the game-winning touchdown on a fourth-quarter interception return. A year later, with David Blough starting in place of an injured Matthew Stafford for the Lions, Trubisky led the Bears on a game-winning 90-yard touchdown drive.

Daniel, Trubisky and Stafford are all on different teams, so this year’s matchup could feature Jared Goff (or possibly Blough) against Justin Fields, the quarterback the Lions passed on with the No. 7 pick in this year’s draft.

A few thoughts on the NFL’s Week 1 schedule of games:

-The Detroit Lions got a tough but not impossible draw in their opener, hosting a San Francisco 49ers team that I think will be one of the bounce-back teams in the NFL this season. The 49ers are better than their 6-10 record from a season ago and likely will have a motivated Jimmy Garoppolo starting at quarterback. Coach Kyle Shanahan is the game’s best offensive play-caller, and the Lions aren’t exactly brimming with talent on the defensive side of the ball. I’m pretty sure I’ll have the 49ers winning this one when I do my game-by-game predictions later today, but at least the Lions are home to start the Dan Campbell era so good vibes should be flowing that day.

-The NFL went with the obvious Thursday night opener, the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Dallas Cowboys. It’s a good matchup, and one that should draw plenty of eyeballs as Tom Brady kicks off his drive for an eighth ring against the nation’s most popular (and most hated) team. A healthy Dak Prescott makes the Cowboys a division contender, but the Bucs, with every starter back, are the better team.

-Outside of Bucs-Cowboys, the Cleveland Browns-Kansas City Chiefs game is the highlight of Week 1. The Chiefs, I believe, are the best team in football, but the Browns have one of the NFL’s most well-rounded rosters and gave Kansas City a scare in the playoffs last season.

-Matthew Stafford gets a familiar Week 1 foe in his former NFC North rival, the Chicago Bears. Stafford has more wins (11) but also more interceptions (23) against the Bears than any other team. He opened the season against Chicago last year, too, when he led what would have been a game-winning drive in the final minute if not for a dropped D’Andre Swift touchdown. If nothing else, Lions fans can cap their day by watching their old quarterback in the Sunday night game.

More: 5 Lions games to watch on NFL schedule release day: Matthew Stafford reunion looms large

-Doubt it’ll be of much interest locally, but I did get a kick out of the NFL sending the New York Jets to Carolina for their opener. Dearborn native Robert Saleh’s first game as Jets coach will come against the quarterback he traded away this offseason, Sam Darnold. Gives me hope the Lions-Rams game (where Jared Goff and Stafford will face their former teams) will get a plum spot on the schedule.

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