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TWENTYMAN: Breaking down the Lions' 2017 schedule

Week 1, Sept. 10, vs. Arizona, 1 p.m., FOX

The Detroit Lions' 2017 campaign begins at home in the friendly confines of Ford Field for the first time since the 2014 season. The Lions have won their last three season openers at home. The Cardinals will be looking to get off to a good start in what they hope is a bounce-back season after a disappointing 7-8-1 campaign in 2016.

Week 2, Sept. 18, at New York Giants, 8:30 p.m., ESPN (Monday Night Football)

Detroit had to wait until Week 16 last year to make their first appearance on prime-time television (in Dallas). This year they play in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football Week 2 in New York. This is also the first of six outdoor contests for the Lions this season. They played outdoors just three times last season (lost all three). Detroit lost, 17-6, at MetLife Stadium last season in Week 15. This also marks the first of five games the Lions play this season against opponents who qualified for last year's playoffs.

Week 3, Sept. 24, vs. Atlanta, 1 p.m., FOX

The third week of the season sees the defending NFC Champions come to town. It also gives the Lions two home games in their first three contests. The Lions have had just one home game in their first four contests the previous two seasons. It appears the NFL listened to team president Rod Wood's request for a more balanced home/away schedule to begin the season. Reigning NFL MVP Matt Ryan led the league's highest scoring offense in the NFL last season (33.8 ppg), which means Detroit's defense will be put to the test early in the season.

Week 4, Oct. 1, at Minnesota, 1 p.m., FOX

The Lions had a number of improbable come-from-behind victories last season, but none bigger than last year's Week 9 OT win in Minnesota. The Lions swept the season series from the Vikings (8-8), which is a big reason why Minnesota missed the playoffs. Who will be running the ball for the Vikings in this one now that Minnesota has moved on from the face of the franchise for the last decade, Adrian Peterson? 

Week 5, Oct. 8, vs. Carolina, 1 p.m., FOX

Two of the best players on either side of the ball – quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly – make the trip north to Detroit in an attempt to get the 6-10 Panthers back into the NFC playoff picture in 2017.

Week 6, Oct. 15, at New Orleans, 1 p.m., FOX

It almost seems like New Orleans is in the same division as Detroit with how frequently the two have played in recent years. The Lions make a third consecutive trip down to play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and will be looking for their third-straight victory there and a fourth overall against Drew Brees and the Saints. The only game last year the Lions didn't have to come from behind to win in the fourth quarter was their 28-13 victory over the Saints in New Orleans.

Week 7, BYE

Relax and get healthy.

Week 8, Oct. 29, vs. Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m., NBC (Sunday Night Football)

The Lions come off their bye week fresh and rested to host the Steelers in Detroit's second prime-time game of the season. The Steelers boast one of the league's top triple threats in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell. Their fan base is also one of the best traveled in all of football.

Week 9, Nov. 6, at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m., ESPN (Monday Night Football)

Back-to-back prime-time contests for the Lions as they come off their Sunday Night Football game at Ford Field vs. the Steelers right into their second Monday Night Football game of the season in Green Bay. The defending NFC North champions are 25-1 vs. the Lions in the state of Wisconsin dating back to 1991.

Week 10, Nov. 12, vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m., CBS

The Cleveland Browns were on the winning end of just one contest last season. The Browns had the league's 30th-ranked offense and ranked 31st on defense. The Lions have defeated the Browns 15 times in 19 tries in the regular season. Will this be the first look the Lions get at projected No. 1 pick Myles Garrett?

Week 11, Nov. 19, at Chicago, 1 p.m., FOX

By giving the Lions equal home games and road games in both the first and last quarters of the season, the schedule had to fall the other way at least once. Typically, the Lions are at home on the Sunday ahead of their Thanksgiving Day Game, but this year they have to travel to Chicago ahead of their short week. At least Chicago is a short trip. The Bears won just three games last season, but one of those was at home against Detroit. 

**Week 12, Nov. 23, vs. Minnesota, 12:30 p.m., FOX (Thanksgiving Day)


Detroit will be looking for its fifth-straight win on Thanksgiving and its second-straight against the Vikings, who the Lions defeated in come-from-behind fashion  (of course), 16-13, on Thanksgiving last season. This will be just the fifth time in the 78-year history of the Lions playing on Thanksgiving that Minnesota will be their opponent.

Week 13, Dec. 3, at Baltimore, 1 p.m., FOX

The Lions continue their AFC North swing with a trip to Baltimore. The Ravens lost three of their last four contests last season to miss the playoffs at 8-8, but they were 6-2 a season ago at M&T Bank Stadium.

Week 14, Dec. 10, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m., FOX

This week marks the first and only back-to-back road contests for the Lions in 2017. Florida in December isn't bad from a weather standpoint. The 9-7 Bucs are one of the up-and-coming young teams in the NFC, and this could be a crucial late-season inter-conference game for two teams jockeying for playoff position.

Week 15, Dec. 16, vs. Chicago, 4:30 p.m., NFL Network (Saturday)

The Lions and Bears finish up their regular-season series with a rare Saturday contest at Ford Field. Though technically not a Thursday night game, this is an NFL Network televised game, so could we see the Lions' new Color Rush uniforms this week?

Week 16, Dec. 24, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m., FOX

Detroit will be spending Christmas Eve in Cincinnati this year. The Lions last played in Cincinnati in 2009 when they dropped a 23-13 contest. The Midwest in late December has the potential to be snowy and cold. The Lions want to be an indoor team with an outdoor mentality. By this point in the season, we'll know if that's a reality or not in their final outdoors contest of the regular season.

Week 17, Dec. 31, vs. Green Bay, 1 p.m., FOX

For the second consecutive season the Lions will host the Green Bay Packers in a game that could very well decide the NFC North title, like it did a season ago. The Lions have lost three straight to the Packers and both of the last two contests at Ford Field. Could the Lions finally break through and win their first division title since 1993 with a win in the season finale? The Lions beat the Packers in the final game of the 1993 season to win that title.

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