Quote to note: "On Monday night, we don't have to be the best team in the NFL. We just need to be better than the team we're playing. The NFL is all about making strides – getting hot at the right time." – Lions wide receiver Golden Tate, on opening night and a season's progression.
Monday Night Lights: It's the second time in five seasons that the Lions have started the season at home on Monday Night TV with a new head coach facing a team from New York.
This year it's Matt Patricia's debut against the New York Jets.
In 2014, Jim Caldwell's reign started with a one-sided 35-14 victory over the Giants. Matthew Stafford threw two TD passes, both to Calvin Johnson, and the defense held the Giants to 197 yards while sacking QB Eli Manning twice and intercepting two passes.
Stafford remembers the electric atmosphere created by the fans in 2014 .
"Monday night ... they were awesome," Stafford said. "They were rocking, and hopefully we'll get the same on Monday night."
The Lions went on to finish 11-5 and make the playoffs as a Wild Card.
Series history: The Lions lead, 7-6, with a 24-17 win in the last meeting on the road in 2014.
Lions' D, Ziggy's rush: Jets rookie Sam Darnold has a bright future, but he's still a rookie whose inexperience can be exploited.
A pass rush rattles rookie QBs, and Lions' safety Quandre Diggs thinks defensive end Ziggy Ansah is healthy and primed for a big year. Ansah had 12 sacks last year, second only to his career high of 14.5 in his 2015 Pro Bowl season.
"Ziggy is one of the best pass rushers in the league," Diggs said. "He commands double teams, and still gets sacks. That takes a lot of pressure off the secondary. We love that.
"You guys are going to be in for a good treat this year. This is probably the healthiest I've seen him. I want to see him grind."
Jets' O, RB balance: Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell are solid, productive running backs who can take pressure off Darnold. In the last two seasons, Crowell had 2,306 yards from scrimmage, running and receiving, playing for the Browns. Powell had 2,052 for the Jets. Powell has a 4.4-yard average per carry for his seven pro seasons, all with the Jets. Crowell averaged 4.2 in four seasons with the Browns.
The Lions' run defense gave up 4.2-yards per carry last year. Stopping the run puts the defense in favorable down-and-distance situations that don't let Darnold get the ball out quickly to sustain possessions with short passes.
Lions' O, running start: The matchup favors the Lions to show significant improvement in a running game that ranked last in 2017.
There were signs in the preseason of a payoff from key additions: Veteran power back LeGarrette Blount and the top two draft picks – guard Frank Ragnow and running back Kerryon Johnson.
The Jets were 24th last year in rushing yards allowed per game. The opportunity is there to hit the ground running.
Jets' D, secondary strength: There's talent on the back end, with some questions up front.
Safety Jamal Adams, drafted sixth overall last year, is a young leader. Two starting cornerbacks were added in free agency the last two years – former Cowboys first-round pick Morris Claiborne last year and Trumaine Johnson this year.
The Jets gave up 30 TD passes last year, second most in the league. There's room for Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay and Theo Riddick to make plays.
Prediction: The Lions must regain home-field advantage. Going 4-4 at Ford Field last year kept them out of the playoffs. The Lions and Jets both were an uninspiring 1-3 in the preseason. This is the real thing, and the offense leads the way for the Lions. Again.
Lions 27, Jets 16.