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Lions want it both ways on Thanksgiving, early-season home games

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The Lions have talked to the NFL about getting themselves a more favorable early-season schedule after playing three of their first four games on the road the last two years. But given that the NFL’s schedule-makers already give the Lions a home game on Thanksgiving every year, there’s only so much flexibility the Lions can get.

Laying out the NFL schedule is an enormous task that requires some give and take from every club. The Florida teams prefer not to play in the early Sunday afternoon time slot in September because of the heat. The New York teams prefer not to play at night on Jewish holidays. Every team prefers not to have road trips during short weeks.

The issue with short weeks is part of the problem facing the schedule-makers for accommodating the Lions: In five of the last six seasons, the Lions have played at home on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, in addition to playing on Thanksgiving. That’s an accommodation the NFL tries to give to all the teams playing on Thanksgiving so they won’t have too much travel during a short work week.

But there’s a problem with blocking out two straight home games in late November when putting together a team’s schedule: That leaves just six home games for the other 15 weeks of the season. Obviously, that means there are going to be some stretches earlier in the season when that team is going to be on the road more than at home.

Taken by itself, it wouldn’t seem that hard for the NFL to accommodate the Lions’ request not to play three road games in the first four weeks of the season this year. But the NFL needs to consider the scheduling requests of 31 other teams, and not all of those teams are automatically given a prime home game on a national holiday like the Lions are. So by asking the league to accommodate them both on Thanksgiving and early in the season, the Lions may be asking more than it’s fair for the schedule makers to grant any one team.

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44 Responses to “Lions want it both ways on Thanksgiving, early-season home games”
  1. cosmicredneck81 says: Mar 29, 2017 5:11 PM

    The only reason a team like the lions plays on Thanksgiving is so everybody can catch up with family and eat with a lil background noise b4 the real team plays at 4

  2. jonwill57 says: Mar 29, 2017 5:13 PM

    OK, swap an early road game and make the Lions play on the road for Thanksgiving! Who says they have to always play at home on Thanksgiving.

  3. weepingjebus says: Mar 29, 2017 5:14 PM

    In fairness, they need to stay home more so that people don’t strip the copper wiring out of their stadium.

  4. nathanp2013 says: Mar 29, 2017 5:16 PM

    1 playoff victory in 50+ years and and the only 0-16 season in the history of the NFL… they need all the help they can get.

  5. walker1191 says: Mar 29, 2017 5:20 PM

    Having Detroit and Dallas host Thanksgiving games every year is nostalgic and all that, but it is long overdue to eliminate this special schedule and let any random two (or now three) teams host these games annually.

  6. samadams14 says: Mar 29, 2017 5:31 PM

    If I only had a nickel for every time the NFL ended the Ravens season over the last 10 years in Cincy, I’d have like $.45.

  7. jimmylikesthat says: Mar 29, 2017 5:34 PM

    Also we would like the Patriots to be punished and thus hamstrung with some kind of bogus charge to even the competition

  8. glac1 says: Mar 29, 2017 5:47 PM

    Go back to Sunday afternoon football and scrap the rest.

  9. deadcoach says: Mar 29, 2017 5:56 PM

    The Thanksgiving excuse doesn’t hold water. Dallas always plays on Thanksgiving too, and the last time they started with 3 of their first 4 games on the road was 2006, but they had a week 3 bye to break it up (which probably didn’t make them much happier).

  10. suicidalionsfan says: Mar 29, 2017 5:57 PM

    ‘ doesn’t hurt to ask

  11. finnymcphin says: Mar 29, 2017 6:02 PM

    They haven’t thought this one through. They need to concentrate on having their team more prepared out of the gate instead. As a long time Miami fan I’m more than happy to get 3 of 4 on the road to start the season. Even better, since the league now likes to schedule division games early/late in the season make all 3 of them division games. Then send NY, Buffalo and NE down here in December when they are no longer acclimated to playing in the heat. Being acclimated to your climate is part of home field advantage. Not sure what Detroit’s complaint is, do they really want to take their indoor team to GB and Chicago in December??

  12. upnorthvikesfan says: Mar 29, 2017 6:12 PM

    A lot of this could be taken care of by giving all teams the same bye week. After week eight, the league should just take a mid season break and give every team the same bye week off. Then teams would an equal break and a chance to reset themselves. But, the NFL is greedy and would never think to do this because it would be a week without the NFL on TV and that translates to a loss of money.

  13. liquidzoo says: Mar 29, 2017 6:16 PM

    Have them play an away game in Ohio vs one of the AFC teams, or at Green Bay or Chicago in their own division that Sunday before…not much travel and it eliminates the 2 home games in a row that week…

  14. billsfan102 says: Mar 29, 2017 6:16 PM

    They play in a dome. If they want early home games fine but they can finish up December @GB and @Chi. Lets see how well they like that every year.

  15. footballfan420 says: Mar 29, 2017 6:18 PM

    So the obvious question then . . . since they also host a Thanksgiving game every season do the Cowboys get 3 of their first 4 games scheduled on the road?

  16. ttothaj says: Mar 29, 2017 6:21 PM

    Copper wiring comment was rich..

  17. firejerry says: Mar 29, 2017 6:31 PM

    How about if they only schedule the losers like Cleveland, Chicago, San Fran the NY Jets all at home , so the Lions can get to the playoffs. LOL

  18. cowboy2016 says: Mar 29, 2017 6:34 PM

    I hope the NFL goes out of business.

  19. bencoates57 says: Mar 29, 2017 6:53 PM

    If the Lions hosted the Jets on Thanksgiving, does the game make a sound?

  20. ocdn says: Mar 29, 2017 7:27 PM

    The Lions on Thanksgiving is as American as apple pie.

  21. jag2210 says: Mar 29, 2017 7:42 PM

    @weeping bus

    Before you disparage our great city of Detroit, ask your self what city has the fastest growing luxury housing market? I’ll give you and hint. It’s the Motor City. Obtain knowledge prior to speaking. That is what intelligent people do.

  22. senatorblutarsky says: Mar 29, 2017 7:43 PM

    jonwill57 says:
    Mar 29, 2017 5:13 PM

    OK, swap an early road game and make the Lions play on the road for Thanksgiving! Who says they have to always play at home on Thanksgiving.
    __________________

    Traditionally they were always the home team to play the ONLY game televised on Thanksgiving.

  23. nfl1818 says: Mar 29, 2017 7:52 PM

    Is it that diffcult for them to play AT Chicago the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

    Detriot to Chicago is how many miles?

  24. pappageorgio says: Mar 29, 2017 7:57 PM

    If Dallas asked the same thing (which they don’t have to because the NFL rarely ever asked them to play 2 out of the first 3 away) PFT would write a puff piece about how smart they were….and it was a totally legit ask.

  25. edukator4 says: Mar 29, 2017 8:00 PM

    detroit started the thanksgiving tradition. let them carry it on

  26. FinFan68 says: Mar 29, 2017 8:08 PM

    upnorthvikesfan says:
    Mar 29, 2017 6:12 PM
    A lot of this could be taken care of by giving all teams the same bye week. After week eight, the league should just take a mid season break and give every team the same bye week off. Then teams would an equal break and a chance to reset themselves. But, the NFL is greedy and would never think to do this because it would be a week without the NFL on TV and that translates to a loss of money.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Week 8 all AFC teams have a bye, week 9 all NFC teams have a bye. Alternate every year.

  27. criscosandwichesforeveryone says: Mar 29, 2017 8:14 PM

    billsfan102 says:
    Mar 29, 2017 6:16 PM
    They play in a dome. If they want early home games fine but they can finish up December @GB and @Chi. Lets see how well they like that every year.
    —————————
    That’s pretty much what happens every year. Maybe you could look things up….

  28. thegreatgabbert says: Mar 29, 2017 8:17 PM

    They want to have their turkey and eat it too. Should call it Ungrateful Day.

  29. dregonspengler says: Mar 29, 2017 8:18 PM

    upnorthvikesfan says:
    . . . After week eight, the league should just take a mid season break and give every team the same bye week off. . . . the NFL would never think to do this because it would be a week without the NFL on TV and that translates to a loss of money.

    FinFan68 says:
    Week 8 all AFC teams have a bye, week 9 all NFC teams have a bye. Alternate every year.

    —-
    upnorthvikesfan came up with a halfway decent idea. FinFan68 ran with it and made it better, while addressing the former’s concern about money — although to be fair, the NFL is a business that exists to make money, and taking a week off with no source of revenue isn’t smart business.

  30. 6jaws9 says: Mar 29, 2017 8:19 PM

    The Ford family is guaranteed a home game on thanksgiving or will pull their sponsorship from the NFL. That’s a fact

  31. demonimp says: Mar 29, 2017 8:58 PM

    We invented Thanksgiving day games. Of course we get one at home every year. Asking for away games to be split more evenly is not asking much. Same BS as playing GB at the end of the year in GB for a decade….

  32. jaxcliff says: Mar 29, 2017 9:12 PM

    Where did you get the idea that Florida teams don’t like to play 1pm games in Sept because of the heat? They love it, they train in it, they see it as a competitive advantage.

    Oh PFT, you say the silliest things …

  33. zepp007 says: Mar 29, 2017 9:33 PM

    Schedule the Lions as a road team the Thursday before Thanksgiving… problem solved.

    What do I win?

  34. Pocari Sweat says: Mar 29, 2017 11:56 PM

    Lions fan here—I am not onboard with our VP’s comment at all.

    I like starting on the road. You get a few wins, and you are set up for the season.

    I agree with the fans that pointed out it means playing in GB and Chicago in Dec, which is a bad bad deal.

    And I agree that we do get special consideration playing home before Thanksgiving.

    Give us 3 out of 4 on the road again, plus the BYE in Week #8 like last year. It’s up to us to at least split Sept. at 2—2.

  35. calaway1234 says: Mar 30, 2017 12:38 AM

    People forget how the NFL franchises despised the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving Day. Detroit was the only one to step up with the caveat that they be able to play the game at home every year. Sorry other 30 NFL franchises, but your teams did not want to be in that spotlight each season. No need to strip the Lions of a tradition now that the spot on the schedule is in high demand.

  36. lionsvseb says: Mar 30, 2017 1:21 AM

    History lesson for all of the haters that don’t know. The NFL was going under financially until Henry Ford give the NFL the money to stay in business. That’s how we got this great game that we have today. So Hell Yeah we earned the right for the early Thanksgiving day game. So hate hate hate! Now look at the Dallas Cowboys schedule they get a Great schedule every year. Keep doing your job as a hater you are amazing. We get mess over all the time with calls, schedule, and everything else. I would rather be a LION for a day then a sheep for 100 years! Go Lions!

  37. txtuff says: Mar 30, 2017 1:51 AM

    2015 Cowboys first 5 weeks.
    H-R-H-R-H

    2016 Cowboys first 5 weeks.
    H-R-H-R-H

    Yeah you are right it can’t be done.

  38. twoteamsforlosangeles says: Mar 30, 2017 2:36 AM

    Well, at least, travel shouldn’t be an issue regardless. If anyone should complain, it’s the Giants who should have beef with trips to Arizona, Denver and the Bay area twice, but you don’t see them making any special requests…just sayin’

  39. billfchew says: Mar 30, 2017 4:28 AM

    I heard the same story about the Ford family threatening to pull their Ford sponsorship from the league if the Thanksgiving game was taken away

  40. tralfaz1127 says: Mar 30, 2017 5:16 AM

    It would be nice for once if the Bengals played just they’re opener at home. Almost never happens.

  41. gtodriver says: Mar 30, 2017 6:31 AM

    “But there’s a problem with blocking out two straight home games in late November when putting together a team’s schedule: That leaves just six home games for the other 15 weeks of the season.”

    There are only 16 games in a season that lasts 17 weeks because every team has a bye week.

    So it’s 6 home games for the other 14 games of the season.

  42. nflazcardsfan says: Mar 30, 2017 8:46 AM

    FinFan68 says:
    Mar 29, 2017 8:08 PM
    upnorthvikesfan says:
    Mar 29, 2017 6:12 PM
    A lot of this could be taken care of by giving all teams the same bye week. After week eight, the league should just take a mid season break and give every team the same bye week off. Then teams would an equal break and a chance to reset themselves. But, the NFL is greedy and would never think to do this because it would be a week without the NFL on TV and that translates to a loss of money.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Week 8 all AFC teams have a bye, week 9 all NFC teams have a bye. Alternate every year.
    ——————————————————-
    I’ve been (privately) saying this for years … to keep the TV people happy, schedule rivalry, high-demand (divisional?) games during weeks 8 & 9 each year, with half the teams playing in each of those weeks.

    Maybe the fantasy players could have a combined week 8/9, and that would eliminate a lot of the complication for having to get fill in players during each player’s bye week.

    While I imagine the scheduling is a beast of a job, I think it should/could be somewhat more balanced than it is now, in terms of home/away games not being bunched together.

  43. RegisHawk says: Mar 30, 2017 11:21 AM

    The networks wouldn’t go for that. It leaves only 8 games for one given Week.

    1 – Thursday Night
    1 – Sunday Night
    1 – Monday Night

    You now have only 5 games for the regular Sunday package and the odds that at least 2 of them will be worth viewing are too slim.

    Also, as above, Florida teams *love* home games in September. The home team picks their uniforms, so they go with their light/away unis and force the visiting team to die while wearing darks.

  44. co19lo99 says: Mar 30, 2017 4:13 PM

    Move the Lions to the CFL (Canadian Football League). Then maybe they can win a game on Thanksgiving Day.

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