Fan Take: Detroit Lions' 2012 Schedule May Lead to Another Playoff Berth

If Teams Stays Healthy, Lions Can Be Better Than They Were Last Year

Yahoo Contributor Network

The NFL's 2012 team schedules have been released, and for the Detroit Lions it means that another trip to the playoffs is a definite possibility.

The dates and times of each regular season game will become available Tuesday at 7 p.m., but each of the 32 teams' opponents are known for another year of bone-bruising NFL football.

The opponents the Lions will face at home in Ford Field are: the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts.

Obviously, the three opponents within the division (Green Bay, Chicago, Minnesota) were already known. But what stands out for me is a meeting with the Colts and projected first-overall pick Andrew Luck, as well as a rematch with the Falcons in what was a loss for Detroit last season. The game against the Texans will pit two of probably the top three wide receivers in the game in Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson.

The Lions' road opponents are: the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.

The Lions play tough games on the road against NFC West teams in the 49ers and Cardinals, and the matchup against San Francisco will be a rematch of a game the Lions lost at home last season. A fun game to watch for Lions fans will be the trip to Philadelphia to face Mike Vick and company, which could be a high-scoring affair with all the offensive talent on the field for both sides. Two additional games against AFC South opponents make it three games total against that division.

It will be interesting to see when each game is played and how it will impact the schedule for the Lions.

For example, will the team have to make separate trips out west to face the Cardinals and 49ers? Which games will feature the Lions in prime time, whether it will be Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football or playing Thursday night on NFL Network? And who will the Lions face off against in their annual Thanksgiving game?

But overall, the Lions actually have an easier road to the playoffs this season against their listed opponents than they did last season--at least by the numbers . The Lions experienced a 0.43 change in their overall schedule, going from .535 in 2011 to .492 in 2012. The Packers actually have the second-easiest schedule in the NFL, which doesn't bode well for divisional rivals Detroit and Chicago.

Another point to bring up is subtlety, in the fact that the Lions may have snuck up on some teams last season and found their way into the playoffs. Some big comeback victories also catapulted Detroit into a place they don't often visit.

With a healthy Matthew Stafford, Johnson running fly routes and an emphasis on defense going into the 2012 NFL Draft, the only question marks will continue to be the secondary and running game. Luckily for Detroit, they have some time to figure that out.

Follow Nick Mordowanec on Twitter @NickMordo

Sources:

ESPN.com

Yahoo! Sports NFL

NFL.com

CBSSports.com

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