Detroit Lions schedule and 2021 season predictions

The Detroit Lions are in a huge rebuild, but how many games on their 2021 schedule are realistically winnable? Check out our projected record for the Lions.

Detroit Lions schedule takeaways:

  • The Lions host the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving in Week 12.
  • Week 9 bye is set between matchups against the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers (Nov. 28 and Dec. 12).
  • Sportsnaut predicts the Lions will end the season with a 3-14 record.

The Detroit Lions’ schedule for the 2021 NFL season doesn’t do them any favors, and for a team that was already in for a long year, it’ll probably be tough sledding under first-year coach Dan Campbell.

Despite Campbell’s fiery leadership style and publicly professed desire to bite off kneecaps, Detroit can only expect so much with Jared Goff at quarterback and a lackluster roster to support him.

Below we’ll look at how the Lions’ 2021 schedule is bound to shake out, and what to expect as their 17-game slate unfolds.

Detroit Lions schedule predictions, roster outlook

Let’s take a look at the team’s complete 2021 schedule and make predictions for each game.

Detroit Lions schedule predictions
Nov 15, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift (32) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Washington Football Team at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Lions roster outlook

All our predictions are based on the Lions keeping and starting these key players:

  • QB – Jared Goff
  • RB – D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams
  • WR – Breshad Perriman, Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond, Amon-Ra St. Brown (rookie)
  • TE – T.J. Hockenson, Darren Fells
  • DefenseLions not ranked in top 20 this week

There’s a decent offensive line in front of Goff to protect him, but he’ll need to rely on a dubious cast of receivers and get a lot out of second-year tailback D’Andre Swift to have any hope for success. Breshad Perriman and Kalif Raymond can both stretch the field deep, and T.J. Hockenson needs to have a monster year to elevate this Lions offense.

Detroit has been in on former All-Pro running back Todd Gurley, who remains a free agent. While he has struggled with injuries in recent seasons, adding him to the mix with Swift and Williams would only benefit Goff as he transitions from the Rams. The two were teammates with Los Angeles from 2016-19.

Detroit Lions 2021 preseason schedule

DateOpponentTime (ET)TV
Friday, Aug. 13vs. Buffalo Bills7:00 PMWXMI-TV
Saturday, Aug. 21@ Pittsburgh Steelers7:30 PMWXMI-TV
Friday, Aug. 27vs. Indianapolis Colts7:00 PMWXMI-TV

This season the NFL is lowering the amount of preseason games to three per team, and instead expanding the regular season to 17 games, rather than the traditional 16 games.

Week 1 — vs. San Francisco 49ers

Sunday, Sept. 121:00 PMFOX
  • Spread: 49ers -7.5
  • Moneyline: Lions +300; 49ers -400
  • Over/under: 46

I am honestly not too sure how the Lions are going to rack up points without a ton of talent at the skill positions. That includes wide receiver. It also fits into the strength of San Francisco’s defense in the middle of the field. Without much of a threat outside, the likes of Fred Warner and Jimmie Ward can do damage in coverage. Add in Jared Goff’s struggles against this 49ers defense over the years, and it’s hard to envision a close game. 

  • Week 1 prediction: 49ers 31, Lions 17

Week 2 — @ Green Bay Packers (MNF)

Monday, Sept. 208:15 PMESPN

Outside of a meaningless Week 17 win over the Packers in Green Bay back in 2018, these Lions have struggled big time playing in Wisconsin. Regardless of whether Aaron Rodgers is under center in this one, we expect this to be the case again. Primarily, the Packers’ swarming defense will cause issues for Jared Goff in this climate.

  • Week 2 prediction: Packers 28, Lions 17

Week 3 — vs. Baltimore Ravens

Sunday, Sept. 261:00 PMCBS

It just won’t be close. Detroit lacks the receivers to even make an honest entity out of the Ravens’ defense. Meanwhile, Jared Goff struggled against top-end defenses during the latter years of his Los Angeles Rams tenure. Add in Baltimore’s suddenly improved skill-position group with Sammy Watkins and rookie Rashod Bateman, and this should be a blowout.

  • Week 3 prediction: Ravens 35, Lions 13

Week 4 — @ Chicago Bears

Sunday, Oct. 31:00 PMFOX

Yet another road game the Lions should at least be competitive in, their issues at the skill positions could very well hamper them against a good Bears defense. I am also not too sure how well D’Andre Swift will do going up against a solid Chicago defensive front. He must have a huge season against defenses playing out against the run. I just don’t see it in this one.

  • Week 4 prediction: Bears 27, Lions 23

Week 5 — @ Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, Oct. 101:00 PMFOX

It’s probably going to be a roller-coaster season for Vikings fans, so squaring off with the lowly Lions at home should serve as a high point. Minnesota will be able to roll up points on Detroit at relative will.

  • Week 5 prediction: Vikings 31, Lions 14

Week 6 — vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday, Oct. 171:00 PMFOX

Despite how much of a rebuild Detroit is in right now, this is a very winnable game for the Lions. They drafted Penei Sewell to shore up their offensive line, and got two interior defenders in Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill capable of manhandling the front protecting Burrow. That should at least keep things close.

  • Week 6 prediction: Bengals 34, Lions 30
Detroit Lions schedule, Los Angeles Rams
Dec 2, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) prepares to throw the ball during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Week 7 — @ Los Angeles Rams

Sunday, Oct. 244:05 PMFOX

Oh boy. Jared Goff going up against his former Rams team. Matthew Stafford taking on a Lions squad he starred with for a dozen seasons. This is a major storyline heading into an otherwise lopsided Week X matchup. There’s no reason to believe that Detroit will be able to stay even remotely close against the Rams on the road. Expect a big-time blowout.

  • Week 7 prediction: Rams 38, Lions 13

Week 8 — vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, Oct. 311:00 PMFOX

Jalen Hurts is the exact type of quarterback who could give the Lions a ton of trouble. This is especially true with the team’s lack of sidelined-to-sideline speed. Add in the presence of stud running back Miles Sanders and dynamic rookie receiver Devonta Smith, and this is magnified further. Expect a double-digit Eagles win here.

  • Week 8 prediction: Eagles 27, Lions 17

Week 9 BYE

Week 10 — @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday, Nov. 141:00 PMFOX

The Detroit Lions might be a very good team in a few years, but this will be a season their fans won’t want to witness. While getting pressure won’t be easy against Detroit’s offensive line, there isn’t a real threat at wide receiver. Plus, the Lions’ defense is a huge work in progress. This might be one of the Steelers’ few double-digit victories.

  • Week 10 prediction: Steelers 27, Lions 17

Week 11 — @ Cleveland Browns

Sunday, Nov. 211:00 PMFOX

Cleveland is going to be a tough out for lesser team in 2021. It just has too much talent on both sides of the ball for the Lions to match. Given that Detroit yielded north of 32 points per game a season ago and didn’t do much to upgrade that side of the ball in the offseason, I fully expect Baker Mayfield to have a field day in this one. Goff and Co. won’t be able to keep pace.

  • Week 11 prediction: Browns 35, Lions 20
Detroit Lions schedule
May 15, 2021; Lake Forest, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during the NFL football team’s rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Week 12 — vs. Chicago Bears (Thanksgiving)

Thursday, Nov. 2512:30 PMFOX

This is one game that the Lions should be able to stay competitive in, whether it’s Andy Dalton or Justin Fields under center. Even if it’s Dalton, I just don’t see Detroit’s lackluster offense being able to do anything of substance against a still-good Bears defense in what should be a close one.

  • Week 12 prediction: Bears 24, Lions 20

Week 13 — vs. Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, Dec. 51:00 PMCBS

It’s pretty well-known that the Lions have a bottom-five roster. They’d need an unfathomable amount of young players to rise to the occasion in order to have a chance at being competitive in most games, especially with Jared Goff at quarterback. The Vikings are too much for Detroit, even at Ford Field.

  • Week 13 prediction: Vikings 30, Lions 20

Week 14 — @ Denver Broncos

Sunday, Dec. 124:05 PMFOX

Yet another game that should at least be competitive for the Lions, I still have a hard time believing that their offense will be able to do much against Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons. While Detroit might keep Denver’s offense in check, this is a difficult road matchup.

  • Week 14 prediction: Broncos 28, Lions 13

Week 15 — vs. Arizona Cardinals

Sunday, Dec. 191:00 PMFOX

Detroit coming out on top against a talented Cardinals squad? Something has to be wrong with this prediction, right? That’s until we realize a lesser iteration of the Lions defeated Arizona in 2020 and played the team to a tie the year before. There’s something about the Lions playing competitive ball against Arizona. I expect that to continue in this Week 15 matchup.

  • Week 15 prediction: Lions 23, Cardinals 19

Week 16 — @ Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, Dec. 261:00 PMFOX

This is a game that the Lions should at least be competitive in. Atlanta’s lackluster secondary could be a boon for Jared Goff. That’s until we realize the new quarterback doesn’t have any real weapons to throw to. It’s going to hamper Dan Campbell’s squad throughout the entire 2021 season. New general manager Brad Holmes did not do him a solid in that regard.

  • Week 16 prediction: Falcons 31, Lions 24

Week 17 — @ Seattle Seahawks

Sunday, Jan. 21:00 PMFOX

As tough as it’ll be for Jared Goff to succeed as the Lions’ new quarterback, it’ll be doubly tough to do so against the Seahawks. Goff has faced many times before, but under far more favorable circumstances as a member of the Rams. This has blowout written all over it.

  • Week 17 prediction: Seahawks 35, Lions 14
Detroit Lions schedule, Green Bay Packers
Nov 11, 2018; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) waves after the Green Bay Packers 31-12 win against the Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Week 18 — vs. Green Bay Packers

Sunday, Jan. 91:00 PMFOX

The Lions have had their issues against Green Bay in recent years, losing each of their past four games against their division rivals. That could very well change should Aaron Rodgers’ trade request from the Packers come to fruition. Either way, the gap between these two teams suggests that Dan Campbell’s squad should be able to split with a home win, especially if Rodgers is still around and Green Bay has locked up the NFC North.

  • Week 18 prediction: Lions 23, Packers 17

Detroit Lions projected record: 2-15