Detroit Lions schedule analysis

Breakdown: After going 2-30 the past two seasons, the Lions won’t get a sniff of a primetime game despite a number of marketable young players -- most notably quarterback Matthew Stafford. The nation will see the Lions once: in their annual Thanksgiving Day affair, this year against New England. At this point, all 16 of their games are scheduled for early kickoffs (12:30 p.m. ET or 1 p.m. ET).

I think the Lions will be an improved team in 2010, but it might not show during a brutal six-game stretch before their bye week. Before the middle of October, the Lions will have played at all three NFC North rivals. Their two home games in that stretch are Philadelphia and St. Louis. Despite their improvement, the Lions could be 2-4 (or worse) heading into their bye.

That said, I’ll be interested to see what kind of team the Lions have entering the Thanksgiving game, one of three consecutive dates at Ford Field. In succession, the Lions will take on the Patriots, Chicago and Green Bay. Let’s measure improvement during that stretch.

Complaint department: (Sarcasm alert.) The Lions play consecutive late-December games in Florida. Anyone who would rather play at Tampa Bay (Dec. 19) and at Miami (Dec. 26) should have their NFL identification cards revoked. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather spend two winter weeks in the Upper Midwest, playing inside a dome. Bah humbug.

Week 17: Will the Lions be in position to impact the NFC North division title? That was the league’s intent in scheduling them to play Minnesota in the Jan. 2 season finale. (All Week 17 games are between division rivals.) I don’t know that the Lions will be in the midst of the race, but it’s not out of the question that the Vikings will need a victory to secure a playoff or seeding tiebreaker. What might normally be a schedule throwaway will certainly be more interesting from a Lions perspective.

Lions Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, at Chicago, 1:00 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, Philadelphia, 1:00 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, at Minnesota, 1:00 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, at Green Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, St. Louis, 1:00 PM

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, at NY Giants, 1:00 PM

Week 7: BYE

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, Washington, 1:00 PM

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, NY Jets, 1:00 PM

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, at Buffalo, 1:00 PM

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, at Dallas, 1:00 PM

Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 25, New England, 12:30 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, Chicago, 1:00 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, Green Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, at Miami, 1:00 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, Minnesota, 1:00 PM