After 10 straight losing seasons, the Detroit Lions made the big jump to 10-6 last season. That was good enough for a trip to the playoffs, but they were not good enough to advance past the Saints in the first round.
Detroit fans have plenty of reason to feel that this upward trend will continue. They have young talent all over the field, and the combo of Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson alone is good enough to keep them competitive.
If they are going to improve on that 10-6 record from a year ago, it will not be easy. Check out their schedule.
Week 2 9/16: Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
Week 3 9/23: Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox
Week 4 9/30: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox
Week 5: BYE
Week 6 10/14: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox
Week 7 10/22: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Week 8 10/28: Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox
Week 9 11/4: Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox
Week 10 11/11: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox
Week 11 11/18: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox
Week 12 11/22: Houston Texans at Detroit Lions 12:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 13 12/2: Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 14 12/9: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
Week 15 12/16: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
Week 16 12/22: Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Week 17: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox
The Lions are in a tough spot to begin with because the NFC North features two other teams that figure to be serious playoff contenders in the Packers and Bears.
They also draw a tough matchup with the much improved NFC West. This not only allows Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh a chance to get reacquainted, but it also means that the Lions must face Cardinals and Seahawks teams that were playing great football at the end of last season.
For the AFC side of things, the Lions find themselves matched against the South. They catch a nice break here as they get the class of that division, the Texans, at home. They also get the Colts at home, which will likely provide Lions fans a chance to see Andrew Luck.
Overall, the Lions have the 19th hardest schedule in the league (based on opponents' record last year). However, that is slightly misleading as their two games against the Vikings (3-13) and one against the Colts (2-14) drastically lowers that percentage.
Most Pivotal Matchup
Week 11: Green Bay Packers
If the Lions want to rule the NFC North they must take down the current kings, the Green Bay Packers.
They were 0-2 against the Packers last season, including a 27-15 defeat at home. The Lions cannot allow the Packers to escape Detroit with another victory.