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Detroit Lions’ 2021 opponents and strength of schedule

Who do the Detroit Lions play in 2021, and how do their opponents stack up in terms of the Lions’ strength of schedule next season?

Detroit Lions' 2021 opponents and strength of schedule
Running back D'Andre Swift (32) of the Detroit Lions carries the ball during the first half of an NFL football game between the Washington Football Team and the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, November 15, 2020. (Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Who are the Detroit Lions’ 2021 NFL opponents as they look to bounce back from a poor performance in the 2020 season? Let’s look at who the Lions will play in 2021, and what that means in terms of their strength of schedule ranking compared to their rivals.

Who do the Lions play in 2021?

The Lions’ list of 2021 opponents will see them play the regular six games against the NFC North: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings. As is customary, the Lions will face each of those three teams both at home and on the road during the 2021 season.

Related | Detroit Lions’ salary cap situation heading into 2021

The 2021 season will also see the NFC North compete against the NFC West and AFC North for another eight games. Finally, the remaining two games on the traditional 16-game schedule will see the Lions face the two teams that finished in last place of the NFC East (Philadelphia Eagles) and NFC South (Atlanta Falcons).

What about the Lions’ 17th game in 2021?

The 2021 season is expected to introduce a 17th regular season game for all NFL teams. Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport reported on that plans are in place to expand the regular season, although their report has yet to be officially confirmed by the NFL. Therefore, who would be the opponent for the Lions’ 17th game in the 2021 season?

Reports suggest that a decision has been made on how the 17th game opponent will be decided. The matchup will be an interconference matchup based on standings on a rotational basis.

Albert Breer reports that the divisional alignments for the 2021 season had already been set. According to Breer, the NFC North will face the AFC West for the 17th game. Therefore, the Lions’ opponent for their 17th game in 2020 would be the Denver Broncos.

The Detroit Lions’ 2021 opponents

Here are the teams that the Detroit Lions will play against in the 2021 NFL season:

Home: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles

Road: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons

17th game (location TBD): Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions’ strength of schedule for 2021

As we look ahead towards the 2021 NFL season, how does the Lions’ strength of schedule for 2021 shape up? The strength of schedule rankings are based on the 2020 records of the Lions’ 2021 opponents.

The Lions have one of the toughest schedules in 2021

The Lions’ 2021 strength of schedule ranks as the eighth-toughest in the league. They have the fourth-toughest schedule in the NFC but the easiest schedule in the NFC North. On average, the Lions’ 2021 opponents won 8.5 games in the 2020 season.

Related | Top Detroit Lions’ pending free agents in 2021

The presence of the AFC North on the Lions’ schedule is a big part of why their schedule ranks so tough. The Ravens, Browns, and Steelers combined to win 34 of their 48 games. Additionally, the four teams in the NFC West averaged nine wins per team.

In total, the Lions will play nine games against teams who made the playoffs in 2020. However, the remaining eight games in 2021 will see the Lions play games against opponents who averaged five wins in 2020.

How does their schedule at home compare to their schedule on the road?

The Lions’ 2021 schedule sees a wide split in their opponents in terms of home and road. Six of the Lions’ road games in 2021 see them facing opponents who made the playoffs in 2020. Therefore, their road schedule ranks as the fourth-toughest in the entire league. In contrast, at home, the Lions will face just three teams who made the playoffs last season.

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