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Early road games offer risk and reward for Lions

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How the Lions handle the first six games of the 2013 season will be telling.

Four of Detroit’s first six games are on the road, with two road matchups against 2012 playoff teams (Washington, Green Bay). Also, the two home games are against NFC North foes Minnesota (another 2012 postseason entrant) and Chicago. The Lions didn’t win a single division game last season.

Yes, this is a potentially treacherous stretch for Detroit. But it is also one loaded with opportunity.

The Lions open at Ford Field against the Vikings. Then comes that quartet of road games in five weeks — visits to Arizona (Week Two), Washington (Week Three), Green Bay (Week Five) and Cleveland (Week Six).

The Lions’ trip to Green Bay looms as perhaps their toughest away game of the season. Green Bay has won 21 consecutive regular-season home games against Detroit, an NFL record. A victory would rate as a significant upset assuming Green Bay is in reasonably good form. The Lions’ game at Washington also could be quite tough for Detroit to win if Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is in the lineup.

Still, the Lions can compete with Washington. A victory isn’t out of the realm of possibility if the Lions play well. The Lions can also give the Cardinals a stern test; Detroit outgained Arizona when the teams met a season ago, but turnovers doomed the fading Lions. The Browns are also an opponent Detroit can beat.

Four road games in five weeks. It’s not ideal, and it’s a sequence that could hurt Lions’ playoff chances right out of the gate. However, if the Lions emerge with a couple of road wins and hold serve at home against the Vikings and Bears, they will be on solid footing in mid-October with the bulk of their home games left to play.

That said, there are numerous hurdles the Lions face in those final 10 games, with meetings with Green Bay (Week 13) and Baltimore (Week 15) at home and  trips to Chicago and Pittsburgh in Weeks 10 and 11 among the challenges. And there are many.

That’s why a reasonably good start could be very valuable to Detroit.

In fact, it may be essential.

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15 Responses to “Early road games offer risk and reward for Lions”
  1. dirtybird28 says: Apr 20, 2013 9:02 PM

    The Redskins also made the playoffs

  2. thestrategyexpert says: Apr 20, 2013 9:03 PM

    Great post and analysis about the first chunk of the Lions’ schedule. For me I don’t place much stock in the post Week 6 analysis as I think the Lions can be appropriately judged based upon what they enter the season with in terms of a roster design. They have a consistent group of coaches so it’s not much of a leap to forecast what type of scheme they will use and what the pros/cons are of that.

    All that is left to figure out is how strong they are built for this season and future seasons and that shape is the #1 thing that I care about, how well is our foundation built just prior to that very first game. That’s the key analysis that will shed light on our short-term fate and give more clues about the long-term. Although we automatically will be shortchanged after losing a lot of players the last few seasons that we could have traded away to get a head start on this year, but it is what it is at this point. All we can do is move forward and continue to demand greater accountability from the Managers and Coaches of this team.

  3. trinityeagle says: Apr 20, 2013 9:07 PM

    I didn’t realize that Washington didn’t in fact make the playoffs last year. I could have sworn that there was something with RG3 playing Seattle and getting injured. You know, the injury that PFT talks about constantly.

  4. Mike Wilkening says: Apr 20, 2013 9:11 PM

    Apologies on leaving out Washington as a 2012 playoff team. It’s fixed. Thank you for mentioning it.

  5. lks311 says: Apr 20, 2013 9:12 PM

    The Lions will have to perform, but, the good news about their early schedule is that it will likely NOT be impacted by the elements. For a team that’s built for fast tracks (at least on the Offensive side of the ball) the timing of the early outdoor road games couldn’t be better.

  6. larryboodry says: Apr 20, 2013 9:26 PM

    I can see Detroit beating MN at home, and Arizona and Cleveland on the road, and losing to Washington, Chicago, and Green Bay…3-3 after six games, with 6 0f their last 10 games at home…Not bad if it falls that way, although I don’t see them winning their road games vs. MN and the Bears, nor holding off GB at home. 8-8 or 9-7 should be very attainable.

  7. whatjusthapped says: Apr 20, 2013 9:48 PM

    Most importantly, the Lions will win their home opener against the Vikings. There is no way they will lose three in a row to a team that is just as talent derived as they are.

    After that, all bets are off.

  8. irishgary says: Apr 20, 2013 9:53 PM

    The Lions have an idiot for a head coach. Stafford is overrated, no QB no secondary. last place again in the north

  9. holahey123 says: Apr 20, 2013 10:14 PM

    With the first overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft, the Detroit Lions select …

  10. EJ says: Apr 20, 2013 11:06 PM

    To me, this seems like a good thing…

    Think about the fact that Detroit gets the outdoor games while the weather is still decent, and mainly indoors when the weather(Snow) is bad.
    This is their biggest advantage with the schedule.

  11. spedman24 says: Apr 21, 2013 12:47 AM

    I always root for the lions till thanksgiving so that game means something, usually that doesn’t work out

  12. leoskoolaid says: Apr 21, 2013 2:09 AM

    Anything is possible as far as their record injuries play a big part in every season, so predicting their record at this stage of the off season is meaningless. But for laughs lets say all teams are completely healthy, depending on how effectively the lions use this years draft I believe with the core of good young players they have assembled and a few additions in key areas I.E. interior offensive line, and defensive end the lions will be more than a match for most teams in the nfl.The mismatches that will be caused on both sides of the football by these key core players,(Suh,Johnson,Fairly and Bush) will help to elevate the production of other players on the team.Also the return of high level play from qb Matthew Stafford will further our 2013 playoff push. 10-6 will be our regular season record. And 2-1 in the playoffs ( loss in nfc title game to San Fran)

  13. paintan8 says: Apr 21, 2013 8:16 AM

    You also forgot to mention the Lions have NEVER beaten the Redskins in Washington and won’t this year either.

  14. niallofthenine says: Apr 21, 2013 9:10 AM

    If I’m right, I believe I heard the Lions had the toughest ranked schedule last year and the 2nd ranked toughest schedule this year. That is tough for a 4-12 team. Although last year I believe they lost 7 games by 7 points or less.
    Regardless, the parity in the league gives everybody a tough schedule.

  15. northfootball89 says: Apr 21, 2013 10:59 AM

    In this divison they are going to lose the 6 games they play against their division rivals anyways

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