Detroit Lions 2021 schedule: 5 games to mark on the calendar

Lions kick off season against 49ers

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 15: D'Andre Swift #32 of the Detroit Lions attempts to carry the ball against Kendall Fuller #29 of the Washington Football Team during their game at Ford Field on November 15, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) (Rey Del Rio, 2020 Rey Del Rio)

Hey, Lions fans! The 2021 schedule was released last week. While we look forward to every game, a few catch the eye right away.

Here are 5 games to circle for the 2021 season!

Week 1 vs San Francisco

Game 1 of the Dan Campbell era will be at home vs the San Francisco 49ers. It’s unclear who the 49ers will start at QB, as they traded up to pick Trey Lance in this year’s draft and have experienced starter Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco also has a new defensive coordinator, after Dearborn native Robert Saleh left to become the head coach of the New York Jets.

For the Lions, Jared Goff will be making his first start after coming to Detroit in the Matthew Stafford trade. First round pick Penei Sewell will be starting on the offensive line. TJ Hockenson will be the main receiving target. And the Lions defense gets a fresh start after some recent tough seasons.

This will be a highly anticipated kickoff to what we all hope will be good things to come for the Lions under Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes.

Week 2 at Green Bay

The Lions will be shoved into the national spotlight in Week 2 with an appearance on Monday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers.

Of course, everyone is waiting to see what will happen with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Right now, he’s still Green Bay’s QB - and beating him has been tough for the Lions.

This is the first divisional game of the year for the Lions and the first road game under Dan Campbell. In the future, these will be the games that collectively define seasons. This one won’t be make or break, though. But it will be interesting to see how the Lions look after their first game - and under the bright lights of MNF.

Week 7 at Los Angeles Rams

In Week 7 the Lions will find out how it is playing against Matthew Stafford. Are you going to be watching with one hand over your face, or really rooting against Stafford and the Rams?

It’s a revenge game for Jared Goff, who sounded a bit slighted after being traded to the Lions. If there was one can’t miss game for Lions fans this year, this would be it.

Week 8 vs Philadelphia

There are some more familiar faces in this game. The Eagles picked up Kerryon Johnson after the Lions cut him. Then there’s former Lions CB Darius Slay (wearing jersey #2 this year).

The Eagles have a new head coach and Jalen Hurts will be the full-time starting QB for the first time in his NFL career.

But I’m more interested to see how the Lions respond to what will be an emotional game the week before against LA, and a long flight to LAX and back.

By this time in the season, we should know what this Lions team is capable of. Most believe this will be a difficult season, which will be a big test for Dan Campbell.

Week 12 vs Chicago (Thanksgiving)

You gotta circle the Thanksgiving game, it’s tradition! And as boring as playing the Bears on turkey day is (it’s the 3rd time in the last 4 years) at least the Bears will have a new QB! The Bears signed Andy Dalton this offseason and they also drafted Justin Fields, who the Lions and a few other teams passed on in this year’s draft.

A win might not do much for the Lions in the standings, but it’s always nice for the players and fans to get a win on Thanksgiving.

Looking a bit deeper – could a Lions win mean the Bears will be looking for a new coach and/or general manager? Depending on how the Bears are playing, it’s certainly possible.

Bonus! Week 14 at Denver

A bonus game to keep an eye on is against the Broncos! It seems random, but right now the Broncos have surprising Super Bowl odds. It’s because people believe Packers QB Aaron Rodgers could be traded to Denver.

Wouldn’t that be something for the Lions to finally avoid seeing Rodgers twice a year, only to have to play him again in Week 14?

This game is late in the season, so fans will be able to judge what kind of progress the new coaching staff will have made. It could be a rough season, but will the team be more competitive? Is Jared Goff going to work out here? Will there be other bright spots to be excited about? Fans will know by this game.

Plus, it could snow in Denver for this game, and that’s fun.

ALSO SEE: Way-too-early 2021 Detroit Lions game-by-game predictions: How many wins?

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