TWENTYMAN: Breaking down the Lions’ 2019 schedule

The NFL has released the 2019 regular season schedule, and the Lions will begin the year on the road out west in Arizona.

Detroit’s schedule includes two nationally televised games – one on Monday Night Football (Packers, Week 6) and one for their annual Thanksgiving Day Game (Bears, Week 13).

Here’s a breakdown of the entire schedule:

Week 1, Sept. 8, at Arizona, 4:25 p.m., FOX

Detroit kicks off the season on the road out west in the desert. Last season, Detroit broke their streak of eight straight losses in Arizona dating back to 1993 with a 17-3 victory in Week 14. The Cardinals currently hold the No. 1 pick in the draft. If they keep the selection, the top pick in next week’s draft could make his NFL debut against the Lions.

“I always like to see what the first game is,” linebacker Devon Kennard said earlier this week, when asked about the schedule release. “Just who we’re starting this thing out with. That’s the first thing I look forward to. Week 1 is kind of something you put at the top of your mind and that’s something you have to prepare for.”

Week 2, Sept. 15, vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m., CBS

The Lions’ home opener is the first of four scheduled contests against AFC West opponents. The Chargers were 12-4 last year and beat Baltimore in the Wild Card before losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in the Divisional Round. Los Angeles quarterback Phillip Rivers is entering his 16th season and has thrown for at least 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns in each of his last six seasons.

View photos from the Lions’ last games against each of their 2019 opponents.

Week 3, Sept. 22, at Philadelphia, 1 p.m., FOX

Gino’s or Pat’s? Hit the road with the team Week 3 and decide for yourself which iconic Philadelphia cheesesteak joint is the best. It’s back to the road for the Lions this week to take on quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles. Detroit’s won their last two contests vs. the Eagles, but both of those came at Ford Field in 2015 and 2016. The Lions lost their last game in Philadelphia in 2013 in that memorable snow game. Interesting note: Whichever team wins this contest will take the overall series lead, which is currently tied at 15-15-2.

Week 4, Sept. 29, vs. Kansas City, 1 p.m., FOX

The reigning NFL MVP – Patrick Mahomes – and his high-flying Chiefs’ offense come to town in a matchup that pits the NFL’s No. 1 offense from a year ago against Detroit’s 10th ranked defense. This game marks the end of the first quarter of Detroit’s season and the last game before their bye week. Kansas City was 12-4 last year and made it to the AFC Championship Game.

Week 5, BYE

It’s an early bye for the Lions. Players typically like their bye to come somewhere in the middle of the schedule to break the season up.

Week 6, Oct. 14, at Green Bay, 8:15 p.m., ESPN (Monday Night Football)

Rested and fresh off their bye, Detroit squares off against the Packers on Monday Night Football in Green Bay for the second time in three years. The Lions have swept the season series from the Packers in both of the last two years (four straight games), and will be going for a fifth straight in front of a national audience at Lambeau Field.

Week 7, Oct. 20, vs. Minnesota, 1 p.m., FOX

The Lions get a division foe for a second straight week. Detroit will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak to the Vikings dating back to the second half of the 2017 season. The Vikings have been able to get to quarterback Matthew Stafford – 16 sacks and 34 QB hits – in the three recent victories over Detroit. The Lions will have to be better in that regard against a Vikings’ defense that ranked fourth overall and third against the pass last season.

Week 8, Oct. 27, vs. New York Giants, 1 p.m., FOX

Detroit gets a date with the Giants and star running back Saquon Barkley, who was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year a season ago after rushing for more than 1,300 yards and amassing over 2,000 scrimmage yards. The Lions and Giants last played in 2017, with Detroit winning that contest in New York, 24-10.

Week 9, Nov. 3, at Oakland, 4:05 p.m., FOX

Detroit has only one slate of back-to-back road games in the entire 16-game schedule and it kicks off this week in Oakland. Detroit has won four straight vs. Oakland and will look for a fifth on their second west coast road trip of the season. This is the last season the Raiders will play in Oakland before their scheduled move to Las Vegas in 2020.

Week 10, Nov. 10, at Chicago, 1 p.m., CBS

The Lions have to wait until November to get their first crack at the defending NFC North champion Bears. Chicago swept both games against the Lions last season, including a 34-22 victory at Soldier Field. As defending champs, the division crown goes through Chicago.

Week 11, Nov. 17, vs. Dallas, 1 p.m., FOX

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Co. will travel to Detroit as the Lions get back into the friendly confines of Ford Field after consecutive road games the two weeks prior. It’s the second straight season the Lions and Cowboys will square off. The Cowboys won last season’s game in Dallas, 26-24, on a late field goal.

Week 12, Nov. 24, at Washington, 1 p.m., FOX

The Lions have turned the tables on the Redskins, who once were an iron-fisted nemesis. Detroit’s won the last four games – 2009, 2010 and 2016 at Ford Field, 2013 on the road (27-10) – and six of the last nine dating back to a 33-17 win in 1999 at Ford Field. Before the 1999 game the Lions had lost 18 straight, 16 in the regular season and two playoff losses – 1982 and 1991 seasons.

Week 13, Nov. 28, vs. Chicago, 12:30 p.m., FOX (Thanksgiving)

The Lions and Bears began the Thanksgiving Day tradition in Detroit back in 1934 and will square off once again on the annual holiday game. Chicago was the opponent for Detroit’s first five Thanksgiving Day contests, and this year will be the 18th meeting between the two on Turkey Day, including last year’s 23-16 Bears’ victory.

Week 14, Dec. 8, at Minnesota, 1 p.m., FOX

This contest in Minnesota opens the final quarter of the season for the Lions. Coaches typically split the season into four quarters. Head coach Matt Patricia and the Lions kick off their fourth quarter of the season with a tough division road game. Detroit lost in Minnesota last season, but they were the only team in the NFL to beat the Vikings at U.S. Bank stadium in 2017, so they’ve had some recent success there.

Week 15, Dec. 15, vs. Tampa Bay, 1 p.m., FOX

These former division foes until the division realignment in 2002 will square off in Detroit in mid-December. Detroit’s won the last two vs. Tampa Bay, including the last game at Ford Field in 2014. Tampa Bay has a new head coach in Bruce Arians, who took last year off of coaching. He was the head coach of the Cardinals from 2013-17.

Week 16, Dec. 21 or Dec. 22, at Denver, TBD, TBD

This will either be a Saturday game or a Sunday game. The league will determine that at a later date. A late December game in the Mile High City means the potential for cold and snow. It’s the first time since 2011 the Lions make a trip to Denver. They beat the Broncos 45-10. It will be the 13th time these two franchises have met. They are separated by just a single point, 260-259, in Denver’s favor in total points scored in the series.

Week 17, Dec. 29, vs. Green Bay, 1 p.m., FOX

Detroit will finish the 2019 regular season at home against the Packers. The Lions finished last season on the road in Green Bay and finished strong with a 31-0 shutout of the Packers. Late season games like this can have playoff implications, and it’s always nice when those games take place at home in front of the Ford Field faithful.

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