No games in the NFL are easy. Even the best teams invariably have a weird slip-up or two, and bottom-feeders rise up and pull off surprises almost weekly across the league.
Having said that, some games do appear easier than others. That is certainly true for the nine remaining games on the Detroit Lions regular season schedule. The playoff push is real for Detroit, and the relatively manageable schedule from Week 10 on out is part of the reason why the 6-2 Lions have a legit chance for a postseason bye in the NFC.
They’ll need to take care of business, of course. Let’s look at the remaining nine games for Detroit, ranked from the easiest to the most difficult as they appear from Week 10.
Week 11 – Chicago Bears
The Bears are currently 2-7 and are dealing with an injured QB in Justin Fields. Chicago has a bottom-five scoring defense, the fewest sacks (10 in nine games) and the worst turnover margin in the league. Ford Field figures to be rocking for the first NFC North home date of the season, too.
Week 12 – Green Bay Packers
Thanksgiving in Detroit means the Lions host the 3-5 Packers. The Packers are getting worse the more they play in 2023, and their only reprieve was playing the hapless, Stafford-less Rams in Week 9. The first meeting wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate in Detroit’s 34-20 win in Lambeau Field back in Week 4.
Week 15 – Denver Broncos
No team allows more points per game, yards per game or yards per carry than the Broncos through Week 9. While they’ve been better of late, Sean Payton’s first year in Denver has sputtered to a 3-5 start. Denver hasn’t played indoors yet all season, so the raucous Ford Field energy and Detroit team speed could be huge advantages for the Lions.
Week 18 – Minnesota Vikings
The regular season finale brings the NFC North’s second-place team to Ford Field. Even after losing QB Kirk Cousins, Minnesota has remained dangerous enough to currently hold a winning record and the final playoff spot in the NFC. If this game carries postseason implications for both teams–and it may–it’s unchartered waters for Dan Campbell’s young Lions.
Week 14 – at Chicago Bears
The only outdoor, cold-weather game left on the Lions’ schedule comes with Detroit being on the road the week before, too. Chicago will be coming off the bye week, so this is no gimmie game, even if the disparity in team records looks huge.
Week 10 – at Los Angeles Chargers
Detroit visits SoFi Stadium on Sunday. Coming out of the bye week and facing a Chargers team that wasn’t all that impressive in victory on Monday night in New York is less formidable than it could be, but the 4-4 Chargers are dangerous. The L.A. offense can do the same things that the Seahawks and Ravens did in beating Detroit this year, though they’re less reliable about it.
Week 16 – At Minnesota Vikings
If the Lions hold serve from here to this Christmas Eve date in Minnesota, Detroit could wrap up the division title with a win here. Division road games are never easy, and the Vikings offense at home is one of the NFL’s best. Any team with NFL sack leader Danielle Hunter and the WR tandem of All-Pro Justin Jefferson and impressive rookie Jordan Addison can make trouble for Detroit.
Week 13 – at New Orleans Saints
Although they’re a bit under the national radar, New Orleans is 5-4 and in first place in the NFC South. The Saints’ top-10 defense is adept at taking the ball away and creating pressure. This might be the next game where the Lions are underdogs and could be more important to the Saints in the playoff picture than Detroit.
Week 17 – at Dallas Cowboys
Dallas is not an easy place to play; Detroit has lost four in a row in Jerry World. This year’s Cowboys team is 5-3 and unbeaten at home, but they’ve lost both games to teams with current winning records. They’re good enough–on paper–to beat anyone, but their high-variance defense is tough to predict. It might be a major challenge for the Lions, though it might also be a lot easier than it looks, depending on the Dallas team that shows up on December 30th.