There will be many new faces for the Detroit Lions in 2021 with new coach Dan Campbell and former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff now under center. It won’t be an easy transition for the new duo as the Lions are tied with the sixth-toughest strength of schedule in 2021. If Detroit returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, no one will say that they didn’t earn it. Today we look at the Detroit Lions 2021 schedule. Matchups are ranked by difficulty, 1 being the most difficult, 17 being the least difficult.
Detroit Lions 2021 Schedule Breakdown
at Green Bay Packers (Week 2, Monday Night Football)
This really depends on if reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers returns to Green Bay in 2021. We’ll assume at this time that he comes back, and if that’s the case, a road trip to Lambeau in Week 2 is immediately the toughest game on the Lions’ schedule. Although Detroit has won there three times in the last six seasons, only one of those wins came while Rodgers was starting. And between 1992 and 2014, the Lions had zero wins at Lambeau.
2. at Baltimore Ravens (Week 3)
The schedule makers do the Lions no favors here as they travel to the East Coast on a short week to face off against the most electric run game in the league. Lamar Jackson and Co. will look to feast on a Lions defense that gave up more rushing touchdowns than anyone in 2020.
3. at Cleveland Browns (Week 11)
Many are expecting the Browns to improve and become contenders in the AFC in 2021. It doesn’t help that Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski is as familiar with the Lions as anyone after serving on the Minnesota Vikings staff from 2006 through 2019. This is a tough matchup after traveling to Pittsburgh a week earlier.
4. Green Bay Packers (Week 18)
Again, this depends on the immediate future of Aaron Rodgers. It also depends on if the Packers have anything to play for in the final week of the season. Still, the Packers have had the Lions number for decades, and against a new regime, that shouldn’t end in 2021.
5. at Minnesota Vikings (Week 5)
Outside of the Jim Caldwell days, the Lions haven’t had much success at Minnesota. They haven’t won there since 2017, and they got routed by a below-average Vikings team there last season.
6. at Seattle Seahawks (Week 17)
In the season’s penultimate game, the Lions get to travel to the West Coast to face the Seahawks. Detroit hasn’t won in Seattle since 1999, going 0-3 since then. Everyone knows how loud Lumen Field (formerly known as CenturyLink Field) can be, and as long as Russell Wilson is at quarterback, the Seahawks are a tough road draw.
7. at Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 10)
The league office did the Lions a solid by giving them a Week 9 bye week. While traveling to Pittsburgh is no easy task, the week off should help, and the Steelers weren’t overly impressive in 2020 despite their hot 11-0 start. This is where the Lions schedule starts easing up a little bit as far as tiers go.
8. at Chicago Bears (Week 4)
The Lions blew a 23-3 lead in last year’s season opener at Chicago. Although there is a regime change, players in the locker room will remember, and there is a chance Andy Dalton could still be starting at this point in the season for the Bears.
9. San Fransisco 49ers (Week 1)
San Fransisco should bounce back in 2021 as they return many starters from injuries. Still, this is a home game in front of what should be a raucous crowd after a full season of playing in front of no fans. Throw in Jimmy Garapollo still starting for the 49ers, and the Lions will have a chance to start the season on the right foot.
10. Minnesota Vikings (Week 13)
The Lions haven’t beaten the Vikings at home since 2016, but hopefully, by this point, Dan Campbell’s culture and philosophy have gelled. The Lions will also come into this game off of their Thanksgiving matchup against the Bears, and the added rest should help. Speaking of that Thanksgiving matchup…
11. Chicago Bears (Week 12, Thanksgiving)
Fans get to pack Ford Field on Thanksgiving for the first time in two seasons, so once again the crowd should be more raucous than normal for their traditional game. The Bears’ prospects in 2021 are suspect, so the Lions could celebrate Turkey Day with their first victory since 2016.
12. at Los Angeles Rams (Week 7)
The Rams and Lions swapped quarterbacks, of course, this off-season. Matthew Stafford will look to show up his old team after breaking virtually every franchise passing record. The West Coast trip doesn’t help, either.
13. Arizona Cardinals (Week 15)
For the fifth straight year, the Lions and Cardinals face off. Detroit beat the Cardinals 26-23 in Week 3 of 2020. They intercepted Kyler Murray three times and held him to 29 rushing yards. If they can keep the dynamic but streaky Murray in check, Detroit has a chance to defeat Murray a second consecutive year. The Lions are 3-0-1 in their last four games against Arizona.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (Week 8)
The Eagles have a new regime as well, and their organization seems to be on the brink of being a full-blown disaster. The last time they played, their former coach Doug Pederson threw the game on national television. Detroit gets a favorable matchup heading into their bye week, which, of course, could set up a trap game (if that is possible for the Lions).
15. at Atlanta Falcons (Week 16)
Another team facing a regime change, and with a late-season matchup, the Falcons could be looking just to close their season out. The Lions pulled off a miracle victory against the Falcons last season, so hopefully, Atlanta doesn’t use that as motivation for revenge.
16. at Denver Broncos (Week 14)
This is another matchup that could potentially be more intriguing if Aaron Rodgers gets traded there. But the Broncos are in a tough division and could potentially be eliminated from the playoffs by Week 14 with Drew Lock at the helm.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (Week 6)
This, too, could change as we don’t know how Joe Burrow will return from injury. But the Bengals still are one of the weakest teams in the league, and if they can’t field a 100 percent Joe Burrow, this would be the least difficult game of the Detroit Lions 2021 schedule.
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