The 2021 Detroit Lions schedule is released, and we have a breakdown of what their NFL season will look like.
The 17-game schedule isn’t lacking in interesting storylines. Here are the notable games at stretches coming up for Detroit in 2021.
Opening with San Francisco 49ers
The 2021 Lions schedule kicks off from Ford Field on Sunday, Sept. 12, when they host the San Francisco 49ers at 1 p.m.
Both teams have made a lot of changes in the offseason. The Lions’ changes are pretty well documented, but Jared Goff will make his first start with the team at quarterback.
San Francisco selected QB Trey Lance with the No. 3 selection in the NFL Draft. In fact, the 49ers traded away quite a bit to move up to take him. Will the Lions see any of Lance?
The likely scenario is that San Francisco continues to ride Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback. He is coming off a season filled with ankle injuries that limited his time on the field.
Regardless of the question marks for both teams, oddsmakers clearly see San Francisco as the favorite.
The Lions open as the biggest underdog in Week 1, as oddsmakers are putting Detroit at +7.5 at home against the 49ers.
Traveling the NFC North
The Lions weren’t given much time to take a tour of the NFC North.
Detroit will face the Green Bay Packers (Week 2), the Chicago Bears (Week 4) and the Minnesota Vikings (Week 5) all on the road in the first five weeks of play.
The Week 2 contest in Green Bay will be Detroit’s lone appearance on Monday Night Football.
Certainly, Green Bay could look like a very different team depend on how things play out with longtime quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Chicago Bears also may be inserting rookie quarterback Justin Fields by the time Oct. 3 comes around.
Despite those questions, NFL schedule-makers didn’t do Detroit any favors in the division by putting them on the road for their first three games with a new coaching staff.
Matthew Stafford returns to Lions’ TV sets with Rams in Week 7
Detroit will make three road trips out West this season, but the first will be the most noteworthy.
In Week 7, on Oct. 24, Detroit travels to face the Los Angeles Rams at 4:05 p.m.
Lions fans will be forced to watch Matthew Stafford play against their team for the first time.
The Stafford-for-Goff-and-three-draft-picks trade will certainly be a spotlight in this game.
Los Angeles remains a top Super Bowl contender, with PointsBet Sportsbook listing the Rams at +1200 to win it all this season. The Lions are listed at +15000, only better than the Houston Texans (+17500).
Thanksgiving Day with Chicago
The Lions will start Thanksgiving Day play once again, hosting the Chicago Bears at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 25 on FOX.
This will be the 19th time the Bears and Lions have met on Thanksgiving. They did so in 2018 and 2019, as well.
The Bears own a 10-8 advantage over the Lions on Thanksgiving, dating to 1934.
Detroit has faced an opponent from the NFC North 44 times on Thanksgiving Day. Only the Packers have more meetings (21) with the Lions on this date than Chicago.
Tough second-half schedule
The Lions will take their bye week in Week 9 after eight games. The final 9-game stretch certainly looks pretty difficult for Detroit.
It opens with road games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. The Lions will also have to make road trips to face the Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.
Home games will include the Arizona Cardinals and all three NFC North foes.
The regular season ends with the Packers at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 9.
All of those teams have an over/under of 7.5 wins or greater by oddsmakers, except for Green Bay, which is not currently listed.
Can Detroit hit the over?
Following the release of the 2021 Lions schedule, Detroit remains with an over/under of 5 wins for the season.
DraftKings Sportsbook is listing the over at -130, while the under sits at +107.
Based on this schedule, it’s a little surprising to see oddsmakers trending with the over.
With a new coaching staff and few breakout stars at positions such as wide receiver, linebacker and defensive back, it’s hard to see Detroit flourishing early.
The Lions won’t be afforded much time to get on track with the 49ers, Packers and Ravens all viewing themselves as deep playoff contenders next season.
By the time Detroit is able to jell, the second half of the season presents a lot of difficult opponents, most of which are on the road.
Although the NFL provides upsets each week, the bottom teams in the league have tended to struggle to get to just four wins in a 16-game environment. A 17-game slate this year doesn’t change the narrative much.
Make no mistake: Most view the Lions as one of the worst in the league for 2021.