Game-by-game predictions for the 2023 Detroit Lions schedule
The 2023 Detroit Lions are offseason favorites to win the NFC North division. Coming off a strong 8-2 finish that vaulted Detroit into second place a year ago, the returning core and augmented talent via free agency and the draft is expected to compete for a playoff berth. Maybe even a postseason home game…or two!
For that to happen, the Lions have to take care of business. The recently released season schedule is an interesting one, with some peculiarities that could slow down the franchise’s momentum. Can they prevail and get back into the postseason for the first time since 2016?
Here’s an early prediction, going game by game through the 2023 Lions schedule and picking wins and losses. It’s an early guess at the outcomes for Dan Campbell’s team this coming season.
Full disclosure: In last year’s edition of this “schedule game,” I projected the Lions to finish 7-10. Here’s hoping I lowballed them again…
Week 1: at Chiefs
Tough draw for the Lions to open the season. Prime-time kickoff at the home of the defending Super Bowl champs, all the while the Lions mix in as many as five new starters on defense. The Lions can absolutely pull it off, but expecting them to win games like this is a step they haven’t taken yet.
Projected record: 0-1
Week 2: Seahawks
Last season, this matchup featured a shootout between two resurgent veteran quarterbacks. The Lions have done a better job in bolstering the defense to win these types of games than the Seahawks did. I also like the bonus days of rest and the allure of the home opener in Ford Field.
Projected record: 1-1
Week 3 :Falcons
This isn’t exactly a “trap” game, but the Falcons are eminently capable of ruining the early buzz. Any offense with Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts and an underappreciated line is dangerous. Detroit can — and might need to — outscore Atlanta. I think they will.
Projected record: 2-1
Week 4: at Packers
The second Thursday night road game in four weeks for Detroit sees the Lions head to Lambeau Field. No Aaron Rodgers means the Lions figure to be favored, especially if they’re 2-1 (as predicted) at this point.
Divisional road games are never easy. The depth of the Lions talent should carry them to the NFC North road victory.
Projected record: 3-1
Week 5: Panthers
When last these two teams met, the Panthers ran wild over the Lions. It’s the biggest blemish on the otherwise impressive 2022 finish for Detroit.
Revenge time. Much of the cast of characters that clawed up Detroit is gone. Good time to exorcise a big demon that kept the Lions out of the postseason a year ago.
Projected record: 3-1
Week 6: at Buccaneers
The Buccaneers enter life without Tom Brady, but don’t underestimate this Tampa Bay team. They still have playmakers on both sides of the ball, and it’s a road game for Detroit off a stretch of three home dates in four weeks.
Projected record: 4-2
Week 7: at Ravens
Baltimore is never easy, even in years like this where the Ravens aren’t expected to fly high. Lamar Jackson’s running ability figures to be a problem for the revamped Detroit defense.
As it sits now, I think the Lions offense is an even bigger problem for Baltimore’s defense. They’re filled with some promising youngsters but don’t have proven cohesion yet. The Lions lines are both better, too.
Projected record: 5-2
Week 8: Raiders
Monday Night Football returns to Detroit! It’s been too long. A convincing win here over a tough-to-peg Raiders team would go a long way toward making it an annual occurrence.
Worth noting: the Raiders come to Detroit a week after playing in Chicago. That’s a lot of travel for odd start times. Advantage to the Lions.
Projected record: 6-2
Week 9: Bye
Insert your unfunny joke here about “the Lions can’t lose this week”…
Week 10: at Chargers
The Lions come off the bye and head to Los Angeles to play the Chargers. Check the Chargers’ schedule heading into this matchup:
Week 6 – Cowboys
Week 7 – at Chiefs
Week 8 – Bears
Week 9 – at Jets on Monday night
That’s a rough stretch to prep for a rested Lions team. It changed my prediction for the outcome.
Projected record: 7-2
Week 11: Bears
Taking care of business in the division is paramount. This home date against what looks like a nicely improved Chicago team is where the stretch run starts.
It’s not going to be easy. The Bears come in rested, playing on Thursday night in Week 10. The Lions have to come home from a roadie and also peek ahead to Thanksgiving.
Projected record: 7-3
Week 12: Packers
Thanksgiving. National audience. Divisional rival.
Time to prove this team is for real. Mission accomplished.
Projected record: 8-3
Week 13: at Saints
The Saints are one of the toughest teams to gauge for 2023. Injecting Derek Carr at quarterback to an underappreciated group of skill position players and a physical line makes them dangerous. The New Orleans defense is thin but capable, too. Coin flipper.
Projected record: 8-4
Week 14: at Bears
This is perhaps the only cold weather game the Lions will face, the only real chance for snow. Chicago catches this game coming off its bye week, a distinct advantage at this time of the season.
Detroit’s strength on the defensive line will likely decide this game. Containing the Justin Fields dual-threat experience while not dedicating extra assets (read: a QB spy) to doing so is critical.
Projected record: 8-5
Week 15: Broncos
Dan Campbell vs. Sean Payton is a very easy storyline here. Campbell faces his coaching mentor, who is charged with both salvaging QB Russell Wilson and keeping a defense in transition sharp.
This is the third straight road game for the Broncos, all three in different time zones. It’s a potential trap game for Detroit, playing a strong secondary and a powerful Denver offensive line.
Projected record: 9-5
Week 16: at Vikings
The first of two games in three weeks against the Vikings is a matchup the Lions could need to sew up the division.
Minnesota is built to outscore the opponent, and they’re eminently capable. This is a matchup where the Lions need to find offensive balance and come up with a few key plays on defense. Tough to expect a road win here.
Projected record: 9-6
Week 17: at Cowboys
Prime time in Dallas is a fantastic, perilous journey for the young Lions. The Cowboys are a very talented team that figures to be playing for its own playoff fate. Dallas’ experience figure to be tough to overcome here.
Projected record: 9-7
Week 18: Vikings
With nine wins entering the final week, the Lions should (should!) be firmly in the playoff pool. But is it a toe, a bellyflop or a deep dive? Winning this finale at home against the Vikings should earn the Lions the NFC North title and a home playoff game. I don’t think the moment will be too big for Detroit.
Projected record: 10-7