Detroit Lions schedule 2023: Takeaways, predictions

Aidan Hutchinson and the Lions are ready for primetime in 2023. Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT -- The Detroit Lions’ 2023 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Thursday.

The Lions will be tested right away, as they head to Arrowhead Stadium for the Thursday night kickoff game versus the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Detroit fans will get their first glimpse of the home team in Week 2 versus Seattle at Ford Field on Sunday, Sept. 17.

Of course, the Lions will host their annual Thanksgiving Day game on Nov. 23, but this year it’s against the Green Bay Packers, which will mark the teams' second matchup of the season following their "Thursday Night Football" clash at Lambeau Field for Week 5 on Sept. 28. Detroit's bye comes on Nov. 5.

In all, the Lions are scheduled for four prime-time games in 2023. Over the past five seasons, the Lions have played in just five prime-time games, the fewest in the NFL. And over the past 10 NFL seasons, the Lions have played the second-fewest prime-time games (16) in the NFL.

If you go back to when the NFL expanded to 32 teams (2002), the Lions' 23 prime-time games are the fewest in the NFL. Detroit posted a 7-16 record in those games, becoming the only team without double-digit prime-time wins.

Here's what's in store for the Lions this season:


Sept. 7: at Kansas City (TNF)

Sept. 17: vs. Seattle

Sept. 24: vs. Atlanta

Sept. 28: at Green Bay (TNF)

Oct. 8: vs. Carolina

Oct. 15: at Tampa Bay

Oct. 22: at Baltimore

Oct. 30: vs. Las Vegas (MNF)

Nov. 5: BYE

Nov. 12: at Los Angeles Chargers

Nov. 19: vs. Chicago

Nov. 23: vs. Green Bay (Thanksgiving Game)

Dec. 3: at New Orleans

Dec. 10: at Chicago

Week 15: vs. Denver

Dec. 24: at Minnesota

Dec. 30: at Dallas (Saturday night on ESPN/ABC)

Week 18: vs. Minnesota

Strength of schedule: 0.495 (20th toughest)

Over/Under: 9.5

Biggest takeaway

When the schedule was announced last year, the Lions were the only NFL team without a prime-time game on the schedule. Now, what a difference a year makes as they’ve generated enough interest to play in not one, but two Thursday night games. Detroit will also host the Raiders for "Monday Night Football" in Week 8 and will travel to Dallas for a Saturday night game in Week 17 on ESPN against the Cowboys.

Former No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson says he’s ready for the Lions to be in the spotlight and has already started preparing for the moment.

“I feel like when the stakes are the highest, and the more cameras are on and the more people are watching, that’s what gets me fired up,” Hutchinson told ESPN.

Revenge game(s)

When the Lions travel to New Orleans to go against former Lions running back Jamaal Williams on Dec. 3, it’ll be a big deal. Williams enjoyed a record-breaking season last year in Detroit, breaking Lions great Barry Sanders’ mark for the most rushing touchdowns in franchise history with 17, but left to sign a three-year, $12 million deal with the Saints. During his introductory news conference, Williams called the Lions’ offer “disrespectful,” saying he felt as if “they really didn't want me to be there like that.”

Williams’ replacement, David Montgomery, will also head back to Chicago the following week to face the Bears. Montgomery spent the first four seasons of his career in Chicago, ranking sixth in franchise history in rushing yards (3,609), so it’ll be an emotional return.

Additionally, former Lions running backs coach Duce Staley will return to Ford Field on the sidelines as a coach for the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 8. Staley was a fan favorite after starring in HBO’s "Hard Knocks" during training camp.

Bold prediction

The Lions will win their first NFC North division title. Although the Lions have won their division before, most recently in 1993, that was when it was called the NFC Central and had five teams. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers had ruled the division as of late, winning three of the past four titles, but Rodgers is gone to the New York Jets and after closing out the year with a win at Lambeau Field over the Packers for the regular-season finale, the division is up for grabs for some new blood. The Lions are coming off a year in which they posted their first winning record since 2017, after winning eight of their final 10 games in 2022 to finish at 9-8, and will look to go even further under head coach Dan Campbell.