The season-opening 53-man roster has been set, and now, it’s almost time for the regular season to begin.
The Detroit Lions made some interesting moves leading up to Tuesday’s cut deadline, and ultimately came away with a roster that general manager Brad Holmes and company believe is the best for the team.
Now, as the calendar turns to September, it’s time to lock in on Week 1. Here’s a game-by-game look at the Lions’ schedule and how everything could play out in 2021.
Detroit Lions’ 2021 Schedule
Week 1 -- Sunday, Sept. 12, vs. 49ers (H)
It looks as though San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan will mix it up, employing a two-quarterback system. This will cause all sorts of problems for a young Lions defense. Adjustments may be made late in the game, but they’ll be too little, too late. (Score: 35-14 loss, 0-1)
Week 2 -- Monday, Sept. 20, at Packers (A)
Aaron Rodgers played all sorts of mind games in the offseason, but there’s no doubt he’s ready to go. Against the rival Lions in primetime, he lights it up. With so many youngsters in the secondary, this could get ugly fast. (Score: 42-13 loss, 0-2)
Week 3 -- Sunday, Sept. 26, vs. Ravens (H)
It doesn’t get any easier for Detroit, as dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson comes to town. He’s not great with his arm, but his legs are more than enough to create problems for Detroit’s defense. Detroit’s offense struggles against Baltimore’s defense. (Score: 28-10 loss, 0-3).
Week 4 -- Sunday, Oct. 3, at Bears (A)
The Bears appear committed to Andy Dalton as their starting quarterback -- at least early -- and this is good for the Lions. However, that Bears defense will be a problem. Detroit will have a tough time blocking Khalil Mack, and Eddie Jackson in the secondary is a nightmare for Jared Goff. (Score: 24-17 loss, 0-4)
Week 5 -- Sunday, Oct. 10, at Vikings (A)
Tired of losing, Detroit head coach Dan Campbell and company square off with a Vikings team at a crossroads. Is Kirk Cousins the guy in Minnesota? In this game, Detroit makes enough big plays on offense, and wins the game on a late interception by Amani Oruwariye. (Score: 27-21 win, 1-4)
Week 6 -- Sunday, Oct. 17, vs. Bengals (H)
Cincinnati is an enigma. Are the Bengals on the verge of a breakout? Or is Zac Taylor not the right man for the job? Against Detroit, however, Joe Burrow looks like superman. Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase connect for two touchdowns in the first half, digging Detroit’s sputtering offense into a hole. (Score: 35-17 loss, 1-5)
Week 7 -- Sunday, Oct. 24, at Rams (A)
In its reunion with former franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford, Detroit remembers what it’s missing. Stafford will have the offense rolling, and Detroit is unable to complete a gutsy second-half comeback. (Score: 42-28 loss, 1-6)
Week 8 -- Sunday, Oct. 31, vs. Eagles (H)
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By this point in the season, fans will have a read on whether Jalen Hurts is the quarterback of the future for Philadelphia. In this case, he brings the Eagles into Detroit struggling. The Eagles are a prime opponent for Detroit to beat and get itself back on track. (Score: 35-24 win, 2-6)
Week 9 -- BYE
Week 10 -- Sunday, Nov. 14, at Steelers (A)
Detroit takes some momentum into its bye week, and comes out hot. Against an aging Ben Roethlisberger, Romeo and Julian Okwara each get sacks. It’s close until the final whistle, when Detroit punches in a short touchdown to shock everyone at Heinz Field. The first sign of growth for Campbell and company. (Score: 28-27 win, 3-6)
Week 11 -- Sunday, Nov. 21, at Browns (A)
The Lions’ win streak comes to an end, as the Lions are simply overwhelmed. A linebacking corps that struggles in pass coverage has no chance against the duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. (Score: 31-13 loss, 3-7)
Week 12 -- Thursday, Nov. 25, vs. Bears (H)
It’s a Thanksgiving treat for Lions fans. Ford Field is rocking from the opening kick, and Amon-Ra St. Brown has his first breakout game. Detroit steals a win from a division rival. (Score: 20-17 win, 4-7)
Week 13 -- Sunday, Dec. 5, vs. Vikings (H)
After the big win over Chicago, Detroit comes out flat. Cousins shreds the Lions' defense, much like he did last season at Ford Field, and fans head to the exits early in disappointment. (Score: 35-20 loss, 4-8)
Week 14 -- Sunday, Dec. 12, at Broncos (A)
The Broncos have too many playmakers. With Teddy Bridgewater at the helm, it’s just a matter of getting the ball out. With Detroit’s defensive line leaving much to be desired, the former Louisville Cardinals signal-caller throws three touchdowns, and the Lions' offense is unable to rally. (Score: 34-20 loss, 4-9)
Week 15 -- Sunday, Dec. 19, vs. Cardinals (H)
Arizona brings a high-powered offense with plenty of playmakers. The youth of Detroit’s secondary is exposed by DeAndre Hopkins, while the linebackers cannot contain Kyler Murray. It’s a rout. (Score: 45-14 loss, 4-10)
Week 16 -- Sunday, Dec. 26, at Falcons (A)
Detroit is in a better spot as an organization than its Week 16 opponent. Matt Ryan looks to exact revenge on the Lions after last season’s epic collapse. However, he’ll be doing so on his last leg. Campbell and company steal one on the road from the Falcons. (Score: 27-17 win, 5-10)
Week 17 -- Sunday, Jan. 2, at Seahawks (A)
Going into Seattle and leaving with a win is never an easy task. However, something about the timing of this matchup says Campbell will have the Lions ready to go. A fearless Detroit squad nearly shocks Seahawks fans, but a late field goal staves off the upset. (Score: 20-17 loss, 5-11)
Week 18 -- Sunday, Jan. 9, vs. Packers (H)
With Aaron Rodgers on the bench for the season finale, expectations are high for Lions fans. However, in the typical late-season spirit, Jordan Love lights up the defense in his first career start. Detroit keeps up with the Packers for most of the game, but Love launches a final touchdown late to win the game. (Score: 38-35 loss, 5-12)