Yeah, so, uh … the 2021 season for the Detroit Lions is not going to be easy. Maybe the best course of action for fans will be to scout out quarterbacks like Spencer Rattler of Oklahoma, or maybe Sam Howell of North Carolina. Or maybe Malik Willis of Liberty or Kedon Slovis of USC. Why scout ‘em? Because one of them is going to be on the Lions next year. For sure.
Bottom line? Yes, sure, “any given Sunday” and all that, but the Lions sure are shaping up to have a tough go of it in the upcoming NFL season, especially after taking a gander at the schedule.
They kick off at home against the San Francisco 49ers, a much more talented team.
It doesn’t get easier.
At Green Bay is next, followed by a home game against the Baltimore Ravens.
We’d like to say a respite is coming, but … then it’s off to Chicago and Minnesota for back-to-back away division games. Then it’s home against the sure-to-be high-powered Cincinnati Bengals. Then it’s off to see their old pal Matthew Stafford as they play the Rams in Los Angeles before a home game against the beatable Philadelphia Eagles.
From there, a bye week.
Pausing for a moment, if this schedule seems tough, it’s because it is. In fact, according to Warren Sharp at Sharp Football Analysis, the Lions have the fourth-toughest schedule in the NFL this year.
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toughest start to the season (PHI)
easiest start (JAX)
toughest end (PIT)
easiest end (IND) pic.twitter.com/Q9RYfLxYQY
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) May 13, 2021
Bye, then back
So after the bye, it’s a visit to Pittsburgh and then Cleveland. Home games against the Bears and Vikings. A trip to Mile High. Home against the Cardinals, on the road against the Falcons, on the road against the Seahawks, and they close things out at home against the Packers.
This is a brutal schedule. The AFC North is their inter-division opponent, their “extra” game has them going to Denver, their division-mates are no pushovers, they have to play in Seattle … tough, tough, tough.
Right now, the Lions over/under on wins is set at 5 across the sportsbook landscape, with the best bet on the “under” over at DraftKings at +107 and the best bet on the over at +100 at FanDuel. (Which is actually a not-terrible arbitrage opportunity.)
Meanwhile, they have been installed as 7.5-point home dogs against the 49ers on that opening weekend of action.
Things looking up?
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom in LionsLand. The team has a profound talent in running back DeAndre Swift, and it just drafted Penei Sewell, who many analysts see as a true generational talent on the offensive line.
They have two first round picks (their own and the Rams) in both the 2022 and 2023 NFL drafts, and new head coach Dan Campbell is a teeth-kicking, knee-biting maniac. He’s a perfect fit for the city.
Of course, there’s the issue of Jared Goff at quarterback, a wide receiver corps that is probably the worst in the league, and a defense coming off a horrendous year in which it finished last in yards allowed per game.
This is almost certainly not going to be the year the Lions make it back to the playoffs. Expect that drought to tick into a fifth year (and let’s not even talk about winning a playoff game, which hasn’t happened since 1992).
Photo: Tim Fuller/USA Today