Detroit Lions Schedule 2014: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game
Last season's devastating collapse down the stretch caused sweeping changes for the Detroit Lions.
After firing fiery head coach Jim Schwartz, the Lions hired the calm and collected Jim Caldwell, who once led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl.
Detroit's new staff now knows exactly what they'll be up against next season, as the NFL officially released the 2014 schedule on Wednesday.
The Lions started 6-3 a year ago but stumbled horridly over the final seven games, finishing 7-9 and missing the postseason. With different leadership and a couple smart offseason additions, the Lions are again looking at an opportunity to break through and cash-in with a division title. But it won't be easy, especially late in the year.
In the following slides, we'll provide way-too-early predictions for all 16 games on Detroit's 2014 schedule.
Week 1 : Vs. New York Giants
A home loss to the Giants was one of many gut punches Detroit suffered late in 2013. A Matthew Stafford pick-six helped set up overtime, where the Lions promptly lost on a field goal. If 2014 is to be a redemption season, Detroit needs to win these kinds of games at home. An opening victory in a nationally televised contest would be a good start.
Prediction: Lions 24, Giants 20 (1-0)
Week 2: At Carolina Panthers
Carolina went 7-1 at home in 2013, with a winning margin of almost two touchdowns per game and impressive victories over the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. Only two teams—the Patriots and New York Jets—scored 20 or more points against the Panthers defense in Carolina. This is a dominant unit when playing at home. The Lions would need a big-time effort from their own defense to leave with a win.
Prediction: Panthers 27, Lions 17 (1-1)
Week 3 : Vs Green Bay Packers
The Lions aren't likely to get the benefit from playing a shell-shocked Matt Flynn this time around. And beating the Packers with Aaron Rodgers by 30 probably isn't in the cards. But a dominant defensive line and ascending offense make the Lions a good match for the Packers, especially at home. Detroit wins a shootout.
Prediction: Lions 35, Packers 31 (2-1)
Week 4: At New York Jets
A few big factors favor the Lions in this contest. To start, Detroit proved plenty capable of stopping the run in 2013. New York was 1-4 when it rushed for less than 100 yards last season. Also, the Jets don't have the quarterback or receivers to hurt Detroit's biggest weakness (its secondary). All signs point to a Lions' road win.
Prediction: Lions 20, Jets 10 (3-1)
Week 5: Vs. Buffalo Bills
These two teams feature similar defenses. Both rely on stopping the run and causing turnovers from disruption up front. The difference between the Bills and the Lions comes on offense, where Detroit has a cast of playmakers and a talented quarterback at the helm. The Bills are getting there, but the Lions are the more talented team.
Prediction: Lions 20, Bills 13 (4-1)
Week 6: At Minnesota Vikings
Amazingly, the Lions had nothing to play for in last season's finale, which ended in a loss to the Vikings during the Metrodome's final game. A year later, the Lions need to win these kinds of games to ensure their 2014 finale means something. Winning division games on the road can be difficult, but the playoff teams generally pull it off year-in and year-out. Can the Lions do it?
Prediction: Vikings 24, Lions 21 (4-2)
Week 7 : Vs. New Orleans Saints
Love the shootout potential of this matchup, with two really good offenses going at it on a fast track. Playing at Ford Field over the Superdome gives Detroit a fighting chance, but Drew Brees is mostly a sure thing, and there's still a cloud of concern hovering over Matthew Stafford. Quarterbacks decide shootouts. Brees over Stafford, but only by a pinch. It'll be fun either way.
Prediction: Saints 34, Lions 31 (4-3)
Week 8: At Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons mostly forgot their defense when playing at home last season. Of the eight games played in Atlanta, five saw the Falcons allow 24 or more points. And not surprisingly, Atlanta won just three home games. Maybe it will be beneficial that this game is to be played in London. The Falcons defense still looks too vulnerable, and the Lions will take advantage.
Prediction: Lions 31, Falcons 27 (5-3)
Week 10: Vs. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are slowly rebuilding their offensive line, which was a complete mess in 2013. It's still unlikely to be good enough to handle the Lions, especially up the middle. Games are mostly won and lost in the trenches, and Detroit is a heavy favorite over Miami in that area. A fresh line coming off the bye will eat up the Dolphins up front.
Prediction: Lions 24, Dolphins 13 (6-3)
Week 11: At Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have had Detroit's number of late, winning games between the two in back-to-back years. Matthew Stafford has struggled against the Arizona defense, throwing three picks with a passer rating of just 67.2 over two meetings. The Cardinals also went 6-2 at home last season, with losses only to Seattle and San Francisco. This figures to be another tough road test for Stafford and the Lions.
Prediction: Cardinals 27, Lions 21 (6-4)
Week 12: At New England Patriots
Detroit has manhandled the Patriots in recent preseasons, but there's probably nothing you can take away from those performances. Going into New England and beating Tom Brady when it counts is a far cry from beating up on reserves in an otherwise meaningless exhibition game. While this would be a signature win in year one of the Jim Caldwell era, the Lions can't yet be expected to win on the road against Bill Belichick and the annually dominant Patriots.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Lions 17 (6-5)
Week 13: Vs. Chicago Bears
Detroit's sweep of the Bears last season included a 40-point performance at home that saw the Lions force four Jay Cutler turnovers. There's a lot to like about the Chicago offense, but Cutler is always due for one of his patented stinkers. What better defense and stage (on Thanksgiving) to provide one for him than Detroit's? Lions defend their annual holiday with a big division win.
Prediction: Lions 30, Bears 20 (7-5)
Week 14: Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Five turnovers, including a fluky interception late in the game, cost the Lions a winnable game against the Bucs last November. Can Detroit avenge another 2013 loss? If the dumb mistakes are limited, a win should follow. Remember, the Lions held the Bucs to 10 first downs and 22 rushing yards in the last meeting.
Prediction: Lions 31, Buccaneers 17 (8-5)
Week 15: Vs. Minnesota Vikings
Way back in Week 1 of last season, the Lions racked up 469 yards and forced four turnovers to beat the Vikings at home by double digits. The presence of Mike Zimmer might help Minnesota reduce the yardage, and it seems unlikely Christian Ponder will be starting again at quarterback. Yet the result for Detroit should remain mostly the same.
Prediction: Lions 31, Vikings 21 (9-5)
Week 16: At Chicago Bears
Finishing at Chicago and Green Bay is brutal for the Lions, who have struggled down the stretch in recent seasons. Maybe Caldwell will bring better luck in the month of December. The Lions haven't won during the regular season's final month since 2011. Detroit will need this one, but winning in cold, windy Chicago isn't easy.
Prediction: Bears 30, Lions 24 (9-6)
Week 17: At Green Bay Packers
History doesn't write the future in the NFL, but it's difficult to look past Green Bay's dominance over the Lions in the state of Wisconsin. The streak will eventually come to an end, and it's certainly possible 2014 is the year it happens. After all, the Lions have been close in recent seasons. But predicting it to finally happen is much more difficult than just claiming it's possible.
Prediction: Packers 27, Lions 20 (9-7)