Detroit Lions’ 2022 NFL schedule brings good news and bad news

Detroit Free Press

Now that the 2022 NFL schedule has been released, the league’s other teams know exactly on which days they will lose to the Detroit Lions, who have promised us they’re planning to win the Super Bowl this season.

I’ll pause here while you facepalm yourself so hard that NFL rules require you to enter concussion protocol.

OK, all good? Great. Where was I? Oh, yes, the Lions … are going to win … the Super Bowl. My computer’s auto-correct program required me to type that three times before it allowed me to override the assumed error.

But there’ll be more on the Lions’ Super Bowl rampage another day. For now, let’s get back to reality, the regular-season schedule and what we can expect from the team that had the league’s second-worst record last season at 3-13-1.

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First, let’s start with the good news. Last year’s callout of NFL schedule-makers for being so mean to our Lions with three sets of back-to-back road games clearly worked. They’ve atoned for their misdeeds; the Lions only have two back-to-back road games. Detroit vs. Everybody, amiright?

Besides, we already knew the Lions were going to have the fifth-easiest schedule, based on their opponents’ 2021 win percentage of .467.

As a bonus, even if they’re going to get their butts kicked this season, they won’t have to go too far to have their tushies tromped. Their 8,348 miles of travel this season for eight road games are the fewest behind only Pittsburgh. They only travel more than 1,000 miles once: After the bye, when they visit the Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, on Oct. 23.

The only people who aren’t happy about the Lions’ lack of travel are Detroit sportswriters, who can already feel their Double Platinum Titanium Elite airline status slipping away faster than the Tigers’ playoff hopes.

Unfortunately, the Lions still have to play the whole slate of 17 games. And even with weaker opponents and less travel, it’s not going to be pretty. Here are my game-by-game predictions.

Week 1: Philadelphia Eagles

This is a tough start against one of the NFL’s rising teams. QB Jalen Hurts led the Eagles’ top-ranked rushing offense and adding receiver A.J. Brown just made the Birds all the more dangerous. If nothing else, this will be an early barometer by which to judge the Lions by the size and manner of their defeat. Prediction: Loss.

Week 2: Washington Commanders

Remember when the Lions used to have a great run defense under general manager Martin Mayhew? Well, Mayhew returns and brings another great run defense with him. Also, remember how Mayhew couldn’t draft receivers to save his life? Last year, Washington third-rounder Dyami Brown had 165 yards. This year, Mayhew drafted Penn State speedster Jahan Dotson at No. 16 overall to help Carson Wentz, who’s on his third team in three years. Prediction: Win.

Week 3: at Minnesota Vikings

New Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell used to be the Rams’ offensive coordinator, a job roughly as instrumental to L.A.’s Super Bowl title as the guy who pushed Rich Strike’s butt into the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby. How bad was the Vikes’ defense last year? They used five of their first six draft picks last month on defenders. Yes, the Lions should have beaten the Vikings twice last year, but Dalvin Cook also missed both those games. Prediction: Loss.

Week 4: Seattle Seahawks

Sure, the Seahawks no longer have Russell Wilson. So what chance do they have now with Drew Lock or Geno Smith? Well, you can bet in Seattle they’re wondering the same about the Lions and Jared Goff. Don’t forget that even in a down year with an unhappy (and injured) Wilson, Seattle almost made the playoffs out of the NFL’s toughest division. Payback for last year’s 51-29 loss would be nice, but it ain’t happening. Quandre Diggs gets a pick and a forced fumble just to rub it in. Prediction: Loss.

Week 5: at New England Patriots

The revenge game against mean, old Matt Patricia is here. Unfortunately, so is quarterback Mac Jones, who’s coming off an impressive first season, when he helped the Pats to the playoffs, made the Pro Bowl and was the runner-up to Ja’Marr Chase as offensive rookie of the year. Seven of the Patriots’ 10 draft picks went to the offense, including three to beef up Patricia’s O-line. Prediction: Loss.

Week 7: at Dallas Cowboys

You want the definition of complementary football? Dallas is it. The Cowboys tied the Colts for net differential in takeaways and giveaways. All you have to do is have a really good quarterback you find in the fourth round, a great running back and an excellent defense that led the league in takeaways. Easy, eh? Prediction: Loss.

Week 8: Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins traded five draft picks to the Chiefs for six-time Pro Bowl receiver Tyreek Hill. Now the question is how often will Tua Tagovailoa underthrow Hill? Get ready, Lions defensive backs, it’s duck season at Ford Field! The Fins had nine wins last year, but only three were against good teams. Prediction: Win.

Week 9: Green Bay Packers

Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers can’t win in the playoffs, but he rules the regular season and feasts on division weaklings such as the Lions. Expect more of the same this season, thanks to 11 draft picks, including two first-round defenders and three receivers to make A-Aron happy. Prediction: Loss.

Week 10: at Chicago Bears

The Bears were awful last year on their way to six wins and getting their coach and GM fired. And they still swept the Lions, including an ignominious loss on Thanksgiving. Will Justin Fields take the next step under defensive-minded head coach Matt Eberflus and new coordinator Luke Getsy? Probably not, if 70 years of history is any indication, but the Bears will still be good enough to beat the Lions on guaranteed terrible turf at Soldier Field in November. Prediction: Loss.

Week 11: at New York Giants

Here we go: The Kayvon Thibodeaux vs. Aidan Hutchinson matchup we’ve been waiting seven months to see! OK, nobody will care at this point, but it’ll be fun to see which player is doing better in their rookie seasons. Prediction: Win.

Week 12 (Thanksgiving): Buffalo Bills

If you want to know how much players actually dislike playing on Thanksgiving, check out the Seahawks’ own prank video of Diggs thinking he would be playing on this day, in which he says, “I can’t escape Detroit Thanksgiving!” This is the one cruelty the schedule-makers inflicted on the Lions. If Josh Allen doesn’t throw for four touchdowns and the Bills’ defense doesn’t pick off Goff three times, call it a moral victory. Somewhere, Ralph Wilson will be smiling. Prediction: Loss.

Week 13: Jacksonville Jaguars

Here we go: The Travon Walker vs. Aidan Hutchinson matchup we’ve been waiting seven months to see! OK, nobody will care at this point. Unfortunately, this game could have No. 1 pick ramifications. But if the Jaguars win this game handily and appear farther ahead in their rebuild even after firing Urban Meyer, that’s not a good look for the Lions’ regime. Prediction: Loss.

Week 14: Minnesota Vikings

At this point of the season, it’s all about health and depth. So it’s a coin toss. But my guess is the Vikings will have already tuned out O’Connell, who’s so boring he makes a life-insurance salesman look like Sebastian ManiscalcoPrediction: Win.

Week 15: at New York Jets

The Jets finished 4-13 under Dearborn’s Robert Saleh. The Lions finished 3-13-1 under Dan Campbell. Did both teams hire the wrong guy? We’ll find out as the season’s winding down. Prediction: Loss.

Week 16: at Carolina Panthers

From playing the Jets to playing a former Jet in quarterback Sam Darnold, who struggled in his first season with the Panthers. Matt Rhule enters the season on the hot seat, so who knows where this team is headed on Christmas Eve? Weird fact: The Lions have lost their last five games at Carolina. Bad history and playing on a holiday aren’t a good mix. Prediction: Loss.

Week 17: Chicago Bears

I don’t know what’s going to be happening this late in the season. But I can almost certainly guarantee there will be some kind of weird drama coming out of Halas Hall. Prediction: Win.

Week 18: at Green Bay Packers

The Packers will roll again through one of the NFL’s weakest divisions. That means the NFC North crown should be locked up at this point. And if their seeding is unchangeable, look for a repeat of last season, when the Pack pulled their starters after halftime. Time to shine, Jordan Love! Prediction: Win.

The final count: 6-11, for the Lions’ fifth consecutive season with double-digit losses.

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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