Detroit Lions 2013 Schedule: Brutal Opening Stretch Will Define Season

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Detroit Lions 2013 Schedule: Brutal Opening Stretch Will Define Season
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This is the reward we get for going 4-12 last year?

The Detroit Lions are in danger of getting off to a horrible start to the 2013 NFL season. 

The league released its full schedule Thursday, April 18 at 8:00 p.m., and one quick glance at Detroit's slate of games reveals a brutal opening stretch to start the season. 

Lions lead writer Tim Twentyman sent out a link to the team's full schedule, via his Twitter account:

Detroit will have its bye week in Week 9, and there are no gimmes in the team's first eight games:

Week Opponent
1 Minnesota Vikings
2 @ Arizona Cardinals
3 @ Washington Redskins
4 Chicago Bears
5 @ Green Bay Packers
6 @ Cleveland Browns
7 Cincinnati Bengals
8 Dallas Cowboys

For a team that lost 12 games last year, this opening salvo of opponents will surely test its mettle in 2013. Four of its first six games will be on the road, which is never easy, and all four of its first home games are against tough teams. 

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Adrian Peterson and the Vikings had Detroit's number last year.

Minnesota defeated Detroit both times the two teams faced off last year, as Adrian Peterson rushed for 273 yards to keep Detroit's offense off the field. 

The road trip to Arizona is a contest Detroit should win, but the Cardinals feature a defense capable of shutting the Lions offense down and could come up with a surprise victory.

The Redskins won 10 games last year, and Robert Griffin III should be back in action by that time. 

Chicago, like Minnesota, also won both contests last year, and the Bears offense could be much improved under new head coach Marc Trestman.

Green Bay is a formidable opponent every week, and the Lions lost both games last year.

The game in Cleveland is one that Detroit could win, but road games are never easy.

Cincinnati features one of the top defenses in the league, and Dallas is always a team capable of exploding for big point totals. 

In order for Detroit to stay afloat during the first half of the season, a few things must happen.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Matthew Stafford must play lights-out football for the Lions to avoid melting down in the first half of the season.

Matthew Stafford must be careful with the football, his receivers must not drop balls like they did last year and Reggie Bush must give the team better production on the ground than it got from its running backs last year.

That's a lot of "musts," and we haven't even gotten into the difficulties facing the team's defense. 

Cliff Avril is gone, the team still hasn't addressed its need for more secondary help and the Lions gave up 118.1 yards per game and 4.5 yards per attempt to opponents' running backs. 

How many games will Detroit win in the first half of the 2013 season?

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Detroit's defense must improve against the run, it must find a way to generate pressure up front and the team's secondary must clamp down on its propensity to allow big plays. 

Coach Jim Schwartz and his staff have their work cut out for them to get their players ready for a brutal opening stretch to start the 2013 season. 

This team is facing an uphill battle to win four of its first eight games.

Simply put, the Lions' 2013 season could be over before the halfway mark unless the team brings its "A" game week in and week out. 

How the Lions handle this rough schedule will define their season. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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