Lions' losing streak could top 20 games
Coming off the first ever 0-16 season and with 17 straight losses overall, the Lions open on the road for the third straight year and don't look to have a game they'll be favored to win until after their Oct. 25 bye.
They open Sept. 13 at New Orleans, when their league-worst pass defense (in terms of quarterback efficiency rating) faces Drew Brees and last year's top-ranked offense. After that, the Lions return home for games against Minnesota and Washington, where new coach Jim Schwartz will see his former pupil (and big-money free agent) Albert Haynesworth.
They face the Bears and Jay Cutler, the quarterback they failed to trade for, in Chicago Oct. 4, host the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers Oct. 11, and play at Green Bay, where they haven't won in 18 years, on Oct. 18.
Despite the tough start, I don't see the Lions threatening Tampa Bay's record losing streak of 26 games (set in its first two seasons of 1976-77). Their schedule gets considerably easier after the bye, beginning with a Nov. 1 home date against St. Louis. The Lions pick first in next week's draft; the Rams, who finished 2-14 last year, choose second.
Also in the second half of the season, Detroit travels to Seattle and Cincinnati, hosts Cleveland, and plays Green Bay in its annual Thanksgiving game. The Seahawks, Bengals and Browns each won four games last year.
If you're looking for an early prediction - subject to revision, of course - I'll pick the Lions to go 5-11 with wins over Washington, St. Louis, Cleveland, Green Bay and, in Matt Stafford's starting debut, Arizona.