Detroit Lions schedule release: Dave Birkett’s game-by-game prediction

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions have made no secret about their goal of winning a Super Bowl this year, but I don’t see it happening in my first glance at this year’s schedule.

The Lions have one of the league’s weakest strength of schedules and seem poised to have their best record since 2017, but they still have a young roster that will go through some growing pains.

They play three of their final four games on the road, two in cold-weather sites, get arguably the NFL’s best team on Thanksgiving and open with one of the few returning playoff teams on this year’s docket.

Here’s my way-too-early game-by-game prediction for the Lions in 2022.

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Week 1: vs. Philadelphia Eagles

1 p.m., Fox: The Lions are a better team than the one that got steamrolled by the Eagles, 44-6, last October. But Philadelphia’s multi-faceted running game still will be problematic for Detroit’s young defense. Pick: Eagles 27, Lions 24.

Week 2: vs. Washington Commanders

1 p.m., Fox: This game feels like a toss-up. Washington should have a good defense, but losing back-to-back home games against NFC East teams would make for a brutal start. Pick: Lions 23, Commanders 20.

Week 3: at Minnesota Vikings

1 p.m., Fox: The Lions came a whisker away from winning at Minnesota last year, then beat the Vikings as time expired at Ford Field. Expect another nail-bitter however this one plays out. Pick: Vikings 24, Lions 21.

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Week 4: Seattle Seahawks

1 p.m., Fox; The Seahawks are a bad team, maybe the worst in the NFC. But they should be able to keep games close with Kenneth Walker III and Rashaad Penny in the backfield. Pick: Lions 24, Seahawks 17.

Week 5: at New England Patriots

1 p.m., Fox: The more hands-on Bill Belichick lets Matt Patricia be with the game plan this week, the better the Lions’ chances are of winning. Pick: Patriots 28, Lions 20.

Week 7: at Dallas Cowboys

1 p.m., CBS: How did Micah Parsons fall to 12th in last year’s draft? Pick: Cowboys 30, Lions 21.

Week 8: Miami Dolphins

1 p.m., CBS: Big season ahead for Jeff Okudah, and this looks like a barometer game covering the likes of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Pick: Dolphins 23, Lions 21.

Week 9: Green Bay Packers

1 p.m., Fox: The gap is closing, but Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are still the class of the NFC North. Pick: Packers 27, Lions 23.

Week 10: at Chicago Bears

1 p.m., Fox: The Bears, on the other hand, are my pick to finish in last place in the division this fall. Pick: Lions 31, Bears 20.

Week 11: at New York Giants

1 p.m. Fox: The Giants are a team the Lions should beat, but back-to-back road trips can be tough to navigate. Pick: Giants 19, Lions 17.

Week 12: vs. Buffalo Bills

12:30 p.m., CBS: Eating turducken on Thanksgiving trumps carrying your defensive coordinator off the field, which is how the Bills celebrated their last win in Detroit. Pick: Bills 34, Lions 24.

Week 13: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

1 p.m., Fox: As far as homecomings go, the Marvin Jones-Jamal Agnew one does not move the needle much. Pick: Lions 27, Jaguars 20.

Week 14: vs. Minnesota Vikings

1 p.m., Fox: This could be the first of many times Jameson Williams makes the Vikings regret their draft day trade with the LionsPick: Lions 28, Vikings 17.

Week 15: at New York Jets

1 p.m., Fox: Amon-Ra St. Brown wanted the Lions’ cold-weather games early in the season. The schedule makers gave the Lions five outdoor games (four in northern climates) after Halloween. Pick: Jets 21, Lions 17.

Week 16: at Carolina Panthers

1 p.m., Fox: In an alternate universe, Matthew Stafford would be quarterbacking the Panthers this season and Matt Rhule’s job as coach would be safe. Pick: Lions 28, Panthers 21.

Week 17: vs. Chicago Bears

1 p.m., Fox: I’m not sure how good Justin Fields will be in the NFL, but the Bears have done him a disservice with the talent they’ve put around him. Pick: Lions 34, Bears 20.

Week 18: at Green Bay Packers

TBD: As always seems to be the case, this will come down to whether the Packers are playing their starters with anything on the line. Pick: Packers 27, Lions 24.

Final record: 7-10.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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