The Detroit Lions are not going to be featured in prime spots on the NFL schedule this year, and head coach Dan Campbell has spun it the only way he can.
Even last year, albeit early on their way to a 0-10-1 start and a 3-13-1 finish, the Detroit Lions had a primetime game (Week 2 Monday night against the Green Bay Packers). Thanksgiving Day early window is always a prime spot, as one of the roughly five most-watched NFL games every year. This year the Lions will welcome the Buffalo Bills, a projected Super Bowl contender, to Ford Field on the holiday.
The Lions are the only NFL team with zero scheduled primetime games this season. That could change as games potentially get flexed into Sunday night, but it doesn’t appear all that likely glancing at the Lions’ later schedule in particular.
Going further, outside of the Bills on Thanksgiving and the Packers in Week 18, which is to be determined, the Lions’ other 15 games are scheduled for 1 p.m ET kickoffs. The people who put together the schedule have leaned into Thanksgiving being a prime spot for the Lions, while also citing having to “play your way into primetime.”
Dan Campbell said only thing he can say about litany of early starts
The schedule lined up to where the Lions don’t travel further west than Dallas this season, compared to last year’s trips to Los Angeles, Denver and Seattle. With that reduced travel mileage comes games in the Central and Eastern time zones, which outside of marquee matchups mostly aren’t late Sunday afternoon starts in the eastern-most parts of the country. So then, you get a bunch of 1.p.m ET (noon CT) starts.
It’s awesome,” Campbell excitedly said during his rookie minicamp press conference. “One-o’clock games. It’s awesome. One o’clock. You knock them out, you go home, you get ready for the next opponent. You’re not waiting all day in the hotel, all night. Then you’re on a short week—it feels like. So, I’ve got no problem.”
Campbell was sure to note the window for games to be flexed into Sunday night.
You can get flexed (Week) 5 to (Week) 15,” Campbell pointed out. “So who says we can’t get flexed.”
If the Lions are like 4-1 going into their Week 6 bye, Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys would have some chance to be moved to Sunday night. That would mostly be on the gravitational pull the Cowboys are for television, but if both teams have good records the Lions will garner some curiosity and interest too.
Campbell ultimately said all he could say about 15 scheduled early kickoffs (14 Sundays, and Christmas Eve), spinning it as an overall positive for the Lions (and those that cover the team?). The schedule hand has been dealt, so teams have to deal with what they’ve been given and for Detroit that’s a whole bunch of early starts on Sunday afternoons.