The Lions’ 2018 schedule features a tour of the AFC East and NFC South in Matt Patricia’s first season as head coach in Detroit. The Lions have enjoyed winning seasons in three of the last four years, and the franchise hasn’t finished last in the NFC North since 2012. This season is another chance for Matthew Stafford to lead the franchise into the postseason.
Below is a breakdown of the Lions’ schedule in 2018.
Lions schedule 2018
|Date||Opponent||Kickoff time||TV network|
|Sept. 10||vs. New York Jets (Mon)||7:10 p.m.||(ESPN)|
|Sept. 16||at San Francisco 49ers||4:05 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Sept. 23||vs. New England Patriots||8:20 p.m.||(NBC)|
|Sept. 30||at Dallas Cowboys||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 7||vs. Green Bay Packers||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 21||at Miami Dolphins||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 28||vs. Seattle Seahawks||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Nov. 4||at Minnesota Vikings||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Nov. 11||at Chicago Bears||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Nov. 18||vs. Carolina Panthers||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Nov. 22||vs. Chicago Bears (Thanksgiving)||12:30 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Dec. 2||vs. Los Angeles Rams||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 9||at Arizona Cardinals||4:05 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 16||at Buffalo Bills||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 23||vs. Minnesota Vikings||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 30||at Green Bay Packers||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
Following back-to-back 9-7 performances, Detroit will have its work cut out for itself in Matt Patricia’s first season as coach.
Getting off to a good start has been the key the past two years. The Lions dug themselves a hole in 2015 by starting 1-7, but they have won each of their openers the past two seasons, entering their bye week with a record no worse than .500 both times. And each time, they won three out of four games coming out of the bye.
Signing running back LeGarrette Blount could prove to be huge. Not only has he run for 1,927 yards the past two seasons, but his teams—the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles—have won the Super Bowl the last two years. Lions fans are hoping the 6’0, 250-pound back can help a third team in three seasons hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Having Matthew Stafford under center gives Detroit a chance to compete every week.
It will be interesting to see how the Lions play under Patricia’s command, but with Jim Bob Cooter remaining on the staff as offensive coordinator, No. 9 and the offense should not skip a beat.
The Lions missed the playoffs last year despite going 5-1 in the NFC North. Repeating that divisional success this season will be no easy feat.
For starters, the Minnesota Vikings were just one game away from the Super Bowl last year—and then they went out and signed Pro Bowl quarterback Kirk Cousins. In the same breath, the Green Bay Packers should bounce back in 2018 with a healthy Aaron Rodgers and the newly signed Jimmy Graham.
Of course, there will be plenty of intrigue when Detroit hosts the New England Patriots in prime time in Week 3. It will mark the first time that Patricia will face Bill Belichick since leaving his role as the Patriots defensive coordinator to take over in the Motor City. It also provides a gauge for Stafford and Co. to see just how close they are to the game’s elite.
The Lions surprisingly only went 4-4 at home last season. Along with the Patriots and the usual NFC foes, the Carolina Panthers, the Los Angeles Rams, the Seattle Seahawks and the New York Jets will visit Ford Field as well.
In total, Detroit will play six games against teams that made the playoffs a season ago. That doesn’t include Green Bay—which was without Rodgers for nine games in 2017—or Dallas, who played six games without star running back Ezekiel Elliott last year.
Toughest tests: Get out the frequent-flier miles. Detroit has West Coast trips to Arizona and San Francisco, plus visits to Dallas and Miami. Buffalo could be a cold-weather challenge. The good news: Minnesota is Detroit’s only road game against a NFC playoff team from last season.
Biggest breaks: The Lions haven’t had a losing record at home since 2012, and that should help against tough opponents such as the Patriots, Panthers, Rams and Seahawks. Detroit also has won four of its last five Thanksgiving games despite last year’s loss to Minnesota.
Bottom line: Detroit will have to be better in one-score games against an improved NFC North across the board. The Lions were 3-4 in one-score games last season — albeit with one loss coming on a controversial finish in a 30-26 loss to Atlanta. This record could go either way a game or two, but it is best to start in the middle given the tough road patches. Record prediction: 8-8