Detroit Lions schedule analysis

Breakdown: The Detroit Lions' 4-12 season last year apparently has reduced their national appeal. Their schedule includes only one prime-time game, a home date on "Monday Night Football" in Week 15 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Frankly, with the number of nationally known playmakers on this team -- from quarterback Matthew Stafford to receiver Calvin Johnson to running back Reggie Bush -- I thought the Lions would get more than one night game. And it's a bit surprising that it would come so far into the season.

If the schedule makers are convinced the Lions won't be a team with high national interest in 2013, why wait until almost the end of the season -- when they presumably would be out of the playoff chase -- to showcase them? Who knows.

The Lions will see a familiar sight on Thanksgiving Day. They will host the Green Bay Packers in that game for the fourth time in seven years and the sixth time in 13. The Packers have won the past three matchups and four of the past five.

Complaint department: The Lions will play four of their first six games on the road -- traveling to Arizona, Washington, Green Bay and Cleveland over that stretch -- and won't play their third game at Ford Field until Oct. 20. That will make it tough to effect the kind of fast start that propelled them to the playoffs two years ago. On the plus side, of course, the Lions will play a stretch of four home games in five weeks between Weeks 12 and 16.

Schedule oddity: The Lions will open and close the season against the Minnesota Vikings. The teams will play at Ford Field in Week 1 and at the Metrodome, for what will be the last regular-season game ever in the facility, in Week 17. Somebody out there, or some computer, likes symmetry if nothing else. It will be only the second time in franchise history that the Lions have hosted the Vikings in their season opener. The other came in 1971.

Lions Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, at Arizona, 4:05 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, at Washington, 1 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, Chicago, 1 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, at Green Bay, 1 p.m.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, Dallas, 1 p.m.

Week 9: BYE

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, at Chicago, 1 p.m.

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 28, Green Bay, 12:30 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

Week 15: Monday, Dec. 16, Baltimore, 8:30 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, N.Y. Giants, 4:05 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, at Minnesota, 1:00 p.m.