Detroit Lions 2013 Schedule: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game

Jeff RisdonContributor IAugust 18, 2013

Detroit Lions 2013 Schedule: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game

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    The Detroit Lions enter 2013 with a revamped roster looking to recapture the magic of the 2011 playoff season while burying the disappointment of last year's 4-12 campaign. 

    Even with Calvin Johnson shattering the single-season receiving yards record and Matt Stafford blowing away the mark for most attempts, the Lions struggled to produce meaningful touchdowns. Meanwhile, the porous defense and dreadful special teams gaffes conspired to fritter away several fourth-quarter leads.

    A promising 4-4 start collapsed into eight straight losses to end the season. 

    Detroit is hoping that the addition of impact players like Reggie Bush and first-round pick Ziggy Ansah, along with the healthy return of several key players, rekindles the successful fire of 2011. Right now the fire is under head coach Jim Schwartz to restore the roar. 

    Here is the Lions 2013 schedule:


    Here is an early prediction for each of the Detroit Lions 16 regular-season games. 

Week 1 vs. Minnesota Vikings

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    Detroit draws a formidable foe in the opener, as the division rival Vikings are coming off a wild card berth in last year's playoffs.

    Adrian Peterson narrowly missed setting the single-season rushing yardage record a year ago and posted 283 yards and a touchdown in the two games versus Detroit. Minnesota added three first-round draft picks as well as veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings to bolster their roster.

    The Lions are focused on opening strong and announcing their presence with authority. The Vikings still don't have an answer for Calvin Johnson, who caught 17 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown against them last year.

    These teams have a history of playing close games. The winning margin has topped 10 points just once in the last five seasons. Minnesota swept the Lions a year ago, returning the favor on the 2011 sweep by Detroit.

    Opening at home and having the more dynamic and balanced offense carries Detroit to a pleasant start to the 2013 campaign


    PREDICTION: Lions 30, Vikings 26 (1-0)

Week 2 at Arizona Cardinals

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    The low point of the 2012 season came in this very stadium, a 38-10 Week 15 thrashing at the hands of the Cardinals.

    It was Arizona's only win over the final 12 games of the season and represented the Lions' first loss by more than 10 points. In that game, Arizona returned two interceptions for touchdowns and capitalized on a decided field-position advantage. The Lions defense allowed under 200 yards but still gave up three short TD runs by Beanie Wells. 

    The Cardinals offense will look much different with Carson Palmer at the controls of new head coach Bruce Arians' vertically oriented offense. Larry Fitzgerald remains an elite talent at wide receiver, and the Cardinals added veteran Eric Winston to help shore up their abysmal offensive line.

    This contest figures to be decided by pass rush and turnovers. The Cardinals will still be breaking in new coordinators and systems on both offense and defense, which makes this an opportunity for Detroit to secure an elusive road win.

    The Lions should have a significant advantage with their defensive line matching up against Arizona's offensive line. As long as Matthew Stafford avoids the egregious errors he made in last year's game, Detroit prevails. 


    PREDICTION: Lions 24, Cardinals 16 (2-0)

Week 3 at Washington Redskins

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    The Lions travel to FedExField for a date with Robert Griffin III, Brian Orakpo and the Redskins.

    Griffin presents the Lions' first look at a legit dual-threat quarterback, but Washington has more than just RG3. Their strong offensive line can pave the way for Alfred Morris, who was a pleasant surprise as a rookie runner. Washington sports a solid defensive front that can get after the quarterback with outside backers Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, presenting a real challenge to the Lions' overhauled offensive line.

    Detroit faces a host of issues in this game. They have to travel across the country from a late Sunday game in Arizona the week before. They must figure out how to contain MVP candidate RG3 a week after facing the statue-like Carson Palmer and a completely different offensive system. Factor in that the Lions have never won in Washington, carrying an 0-21 mark into this game, and it's hard to see the young Lions finding much success. 


    PREDCITION: Redskins 31, Lions 21 (2-1)

Week 4 vs. Chicago Bears

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    The Lions return home from the two weeks on the road to resume battle with the NFC North.

    Chicago is a perennial thorn in the Lions paw; the Bears have won 13 of the last 16 meetings, including six of the last eight at Ford Field.

    Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall make a dangerous pitch-and-catch combination, and running back Matt Forte is one of the most versatile weapons in the league. The Bears defense thrived on creating turnovers a year ago, as they victimized Detroit with eight takeaways in the two meetings, both victories for Chicago. 

    The Bears overhauled their coaching staff after another late-season collapse under Lovie Smith. Marc Trestman is an offensive guru but an unknown quantity as an NFL head coach. It's better to catch the Bears early as they adjust to the new systems.

    The Lions are also well constituted to exploit the Bears weaknesses. Ndamukong Suh and his defensive line mates have a major advantage over the chronically weak Bears offensive line, while a healthy dosage of tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler can expose the questionable Chicago safeties. It also helps that defensive end Israel Idonije is now a Lion, instead of a tormenting Detroit's right tackle.

    Barring a special teams debacle, this is a home game the Lions should win.


    PREDICTION: Lions 27, Bears 14 (3-1)


Week 5 at Green Bay Packers

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    A trip across Lake Michigan to Green Bay is never an easy task for the Lions. Detroit hasn't won in Wisconsin since Erik Kramer and Mel Gray led the Lions to a win over Mike Tomczak's Packers in 1991. The fates of the franchises have changed quite a bit since that victory.

    Aaron Rodgers is in the midst of playing quarterback as well as anyone in the history of the NFL. His mastery of Mike McCarthy's complex offense allows Green Bay to utilize several strong weapons to torment opposing defenses.

    On the other side of the ball, linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive tackle B.J. Raji present real threats to Stafford and the running game. The Packers have some offensive-line issues and depth woes all over the defense, which leaves them vulnerable if the Lions are clicking.

    As with Washington, however, it's hard to fight such an overwhelming and inglorious history.


    PREDICTION: Packers 36, Lions 30 (3-2)

Week 6 at Cleveland Browns

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    The battle for Lake Erie doesn't happen very often, but the Lions probably wish Cleveland was on the schedule every year. With a cumulative 14-4 record against Cleveland, Detroit owns a better winning percentage against the Browns than they do versus any other team.

    That includes wins in five of the last six meetings dating back to 1989. 

    These Browns are in the first year of yet another massive regime overhaul. Rookie head coach Rob Chudzinski hired two excellent coordinators in Norv Turner and Ray Horton, and the team has strong talent along both lines. Detroit has superior firepower, but Cleveland looks to be one of the most improved teams in the league.

    Were this game in Ford Field I would forecast a sunny day for the Lions, but FirstEnergy Stadium won't be so friendly.


    PREDICTION: Browns 20, Lions 17 (3-3)

Week 7 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

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    The defending AFC North champions travel up I-75 to try and tame the Lions. This cat fight features two of the best defensive lines and also two of the top receivers in the league in Calvin Johnson and Cincinnati's A.J. Green

    It is imperative for the Lions to not fall behind and have to play catch up against Cincinnati. Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and the Bengals racked up 51 sacks last year, and the DL has added intriguing rookie Margus Hunt as well as hammering James Harrison.

    If Detroit wants to win, the special teams and defense are going to have to play mistake-free ball. Lions fans know that is a tall order.


    PREDICTION: Bengals 20, Lions 16 (3-4)

Week 8 vs. Dallas Cowboys

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    America's Team comes to Ford Field the weekend before Halloween, hoping to ignite Devil's Night a little early in Detroit. This is the final game before the bye week for the Lions.

    Dallas is in similar straits to Detroit: The Cowboys have a lot of talent but don't always play to that talent. That makes forecasting this game a real challenge. Tony Romo is eminently capable of lighting up a defense, but he can throw a game away too.

    Dallas' new-look 4-3 defensive front is a radical change from its old 3-4, but the Cowboys have a lot of talent at defensive end with DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, as well as a very strong linebacking corps.

    The quarterback that performs better here wins. I like Stafford at home heading into a bye week more than I like Romo on the road after two tough divisional contests. 


    PREDICTION: Lions 30, Cowboys 24 (4-4)

Week 10 at Chicago Bears

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    The first divisional rematch comes in Chicago as the Lions exit their bye week with a short jaunt down I-94. The extra time off should prove beneficial for Detroit. Meanwhile the Bears return home a week after playing bitter rival Green Bay. 

    Sweeping the Bears is a very formidable task. Formidable, yes, but not unprecedented: Detroit pulled it off in both 2004 and 2007, perhaps the shining moment of the Matt Millen era.

    This is the part of the season in which recent Bears teams that sure look superior to the 2013 one have initiated collapse sequence. Still, the Bears defense has a lot of proven performers who are adept at creating turnovers. Early November can be wet and windy at Soldier Field, excellent conditions for the home team to produce game-changing defensive plays. 


    PREDICTION: Bears 22, Lions 20 (4-5)

Week 11 at Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The road takes Detroit to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, another locale where the Lions have not had success in a long time. How long? The last Lions quarterback to win in Pittsburgh was Bobby Layne way back in 1955. 

    Pittsburgh is not an easy place to play for any team, and the Lions figure to struggle here as well. Ben Roethlisberger is a load for would-be sackers, and his ability to prolong plays and rifle strikes deep down the field are a nightmare for the Lions secondary.

    Even though the Steelers defense is in the midst of a youth makeover, they can still bring the heat on Stafford and make life miserable for opposing runners. As long as their key players are healthy, Pittsburgh should win.

    PREDICTION: Steelers 32, Lions 20 (4-6)

Week 12 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    An old NFC Central rival comes to town as Coach Greg Schiano brings his pewter pirates to the Motor City.

    Stafford's fellow 2009 first-round classmate Josh Freeman has yet to produce at a consistently high level, but Tampa Bay has surrounded him with a lot of talent. Wideout Vincent Jackson presents a major matchup challenge, while versatile running back Doug Martin can produce with both his hands and legs. 

    This is a game in which Stafford can shine. Tampa doesn't appear to have much of a pass rush, and it is also in the process of remaking its secondary. Adding Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson certainly accelerates the process, but even the best cannot cover forever.

    The Lions can take this one in a shootout.


    PREDICTION: Lions 36, Buccaneers 30 (5-6)

Week 13 vs. Green Bay Packers

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    The annual Thanksgiving tilt features a familiar opponent in the Packers. This is the fifth time in the last 12 seasons in which Green Bay has been the featured entree on Turkey Day. The visitors have won four of those five meetings, often stuffing the scoreboard with a cornucopia of points behind Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. 

    One of the keys will be whom the Lions defensive front can overpower on Green Bay's substandard offensive line. Rodgers is a legit MVP candidate in part because of his ability to handle pressure so coolly, but even his greatness has limits.

    If the Lions can come out with the intensity and hunger to get on top early, they've got a chance to carve up a one-dimensional Green Bay offense. This is a bit of a sandwich game for the Packers, wedged between physical rival Minnesota and potential playoff enemy Atlanta.

    The Lions can feast upon that and steal a home victory. 


    PREDICTION: Lions 33, Packers 28 (6-6)

Week 14 at Philadelphia Eagles

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    Philadelphia is a big unknown entering the 2013 season. An offseason regime change brought in former Oregon coach Chip Kelly, his teams notable for their frenetic pace and applying constant pressure on both sides of the ball. 

    The Eagles still have Michael Vick and talented weapons around him in LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson, as well as what looks to be a solid offensive line and tight end package. Philadelphia figures to put up some points with its ability to score from anywhere on the field.

    That field, Lincoln Financial Field, could be snowy in early December, a distinct advantage to the hometown Eagles. Detroit did win in this very stadium last season, but those were very different Eagles.


    PREDICTION: Eagles 34, Lions 29 (6-7)

Week 15 vs. Baltimore Ravens

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    The reigning Super Bowl champions make for a tough home date on Monday Night Football.

    Even though several notable players are gone, Baltimore still offers a proven clutch quarterback in Joe Flacco and an aggressive, talented defense led by Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. 

    At this point, the Lions playoff chances have been all but vanquished. Meanwhile the Ravens figure to be in the thick of the AFC playoff race and hungry for a much-needed road win.

    Baltimore's secondary is vulnerable to big plays, so Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson will have opportunities to put up some big numbers. It is incumbent upon the Lions own defense to prevent the Ravens from getting a share of their own. 


    PREDICTION: Ravens 27, Lions 24 (6-8)

Week 16 vs. New York Giants

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    Detroit wraps up the home schedule with a visit from the New York Giants. It's a short week for the home team coming off a Monday night date, though the Giants figure to be a bit weary as they play on the road for the third time in four weeks. 

    New York possesses a dynamic offense that excels at capitalizing on opponent's mistakes. Eli Manning has a bevy of weapons in Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and the emerging Rueben Randle, plus a diverse rushing attack led by David Wilson.

    The Giants defense has some questions but still features dangerous rushers up front in Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. New York has endured some late-season collapses and will be looking to avoid another one here.

    The points could fly inside Ford Field like the snowflakes outside.


    PREDICTION: Lions 38, Giants 35 (7-8)

Week 17 at Minnesota Vikings

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    The story ends where it begins as the Lions and Vikings square off in the finale. These two squads met in the opener as well.

    Some players could be chasing individual records in this contest. Adrian Peterson hopes to be in position to break the single-season rushing mark, while Jared Allen aspires to break the single-season sack mark. Calvin Johnson could be pushing his 2012 receiving-yardage mark, and Matthew Stafford might very well be gunning for another 5,000-yard season and challenging for the most prolific three years of any quarterback in NFL history.

    As with the opener, expect a close game as these two teams almost invariably wind up within a touchdown of one another. 


    PREDICTION: Vikings 24, Lions 22 (7-9)