2017 Detroit Lions game-by-game predictions

Bob Quinn said he felt people would be “pleasantly surprised” by the Detroit Lions' schedule. And they should be. Only one stretch of back-to-back road games -- and that comes in a manageable portion of the schedule in December. Detroit is on national television four times (three prime-time games plus Thanksgiving) and have a late-afternoon window against the Bears in December, too. This is a manageable schedule for Detroit to have a successful season on paper – at least a better stretch than some of the Lions' schedules the past few seasons.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m. ET

The last time Arizona came to Detroit, it was one of the low points in the tenures of both Jim Caldwell and Matthew Stafford. Stafford was benched and the Lions were blown out. This Lions team is better than that. Record: 1-0

Week 2: Monday, Sept. 18 at New York Giants, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Lions struggled with the Giants' defense last year. While Johnathan Hankins is gone, many of the same players return. A healthy Stafford, though, could make a difference. Record: 1-1

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24 vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m. ET

A short week and then having to face the defending NFC champions is not something boding well for a win. This is a tough game no matter where it fell on the schedule. In this slot, it’s almost unwinnable. Record: 1-2

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1 at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. ET

The Lions won a thriller there last year in overtime. But Minnesota’s defense remains one of the best units in the league and there are just some places where being lucky – and the Lions were that against the Vikings last year – just won’t happen two years in a row. Record: 1-3

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8 vs. Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. ET

Cam Newton comes to Detroit but the Panthers are a questionable team other than their quarterback. Detroit has the more talented overall offense – and likely the better team in general – and a run after a sluggish start begins again for the Lions in Week 5. Record: 2-3

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15 at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. ET

The Lions have a good amount of comfort playing in New Orleans, having won in the Superdome the past two seasons. That type of familiarity – and success – on the road can help. This is a good matchup again for the Lions with a good offense against a mediocre defense. Record: 3-3

Week 7: Bye

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m. ET

Pittsburgh is likely the more talented team, but Ford Field in night games ends up being electric and for a team not familiar with the environment, it could make a difference. This is the type of game in which Stafford could put together something special. Record: 4-3

Week 9: Monday, Nov. 6 at Green Bay Packers, 8:30 p.m. ET

Yes, the streak is over, but the Lions have still continued to struggle at Lambeau Field. Nothing should change this season with Aaron Rodgers in a prime-time game where it could end up below freezing. Detroit’s run game likely isn’t strong enough to handle that. Record: 4-4

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12 vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET

The Browns are still rebuilding and have a ton of questions on the roster. Even if there is some fatigue and injuries off a short week, the Lions should be talented enough to win anyway. Record: 5-4

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19 at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. ET

The Lions lost at Soldier Field last year – the franchise’s only bad loss of the season. There shouldn’t be any issues with in Chicago this time around facing Mike Glennon, although weather could be a concern. Record: 6-4

Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 23 vs. Minnesota Vikings, 12:30 p.m. ET

The Lions face Minnesota on Thanksgiving for the second straight year and it should be a game with legitimate playoff implications. For past Lions teams, Thanksgiving was not a favorable day. Now, it’s a place where Detroit feels comfortable after four straight wins on the holiday. Make it five. Record: 7-4

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3 at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. ET

Haloti Ngata, Caldwell and Teryl Austin’s return to Baltimore won’t go well. Games against the Vikings are typically physical and leave opponents more beat up than in prior weeks. Having to go on the road against a team that should be in the playoff hunt in the AFC won’t help, either. Plus, there’s always the concern for late-season weather. Record: 7-5

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. ET

Detroit avoids a bad-weather late-season road game here and that should bode well for Detroit. Not as good for the Lions is Tampa Bay’s high-powered offense. For a team still questionable in the front seven, Jameis Winston should have a lot of time to find Mike Evans. Record: 7-6

Week 15: Saturday, Dec. 16 vs. Chicago Bears, 4:30 ET

The Lions have done well against the Bears in Detroit in recent years and little reason to think different. Detroit has the better roster and should be in the playoff hunt at this point. It’s a game the Lions should win easily. Record: 8-6

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24 at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.

Marvin Jones goes back to Cincinnati as potentially the Lions’ No. 1 receiver. This should be a close game and might be one of the more even matchups of the season. The Lions match up well against the Bengals and A.J. Green against Darius Slay could be one of the best individual matchups of the season. Record: 9-6

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31 vs. Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.

The Lions end their 2017 with another game against the Packers. There’s a decent chance this could end up deciding the division – again – and that could place it in prime time – again. Much like the past two seasons for the Lions, there’s a decent-to-good chance it would end in heartbreak and another year without a division title. Again. Record: 9-7