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Ranking the Detroit Lions' 2017 games from easiest to toughest

August 12,2017 12:13

Like every slate, this year's has some games the Lions will have a really hard time winning, some they can't afford to lose and a whole lot more in that toss-up category. Earlier this summer, MLive detailed the reasons why the Lions can win and why ...and more »


Posted August 12, 2017 at 05:00 AM | Updated August 12, 2017 at 05:02 AM

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By NATE ATKINS -- natkins@mlive.com

The Detroit Lions' 2017 season is approaching, and if it's anything like last season, it'll be a week-to-week proposition for this team. Last year's group set an NFL record with eight fourth-quarter comeback wins on the way to a 9-7 record and a wildcard appearance in the NFC playoffs.
Like every slate, this year's has some games the Lions will have a really hard time winning, some they can't afford to lose and a whole lot more in that toss-up category. Earlier this summer, MLive detailed the reasons why the Lions can win and why they might not for each game on it.
Here's a ranking of all 16 games on the docket, ordered from easiest to toughest to win:

AP Photo

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Week 10 vs. Browns

The 2017 schedule doesn't have many games that look like gimmes for a Lions team that hasn't won a playoff game in decades. This home matchup with the NFL's longest rebuild is about the closest thing you'll find. In their second season under Hue Jackson, the Browns should take a decent step forward from last year's 1-15 mark, as the roster is more experienced and added some really good players in No. 1 pick Myles Garrett and free-agent guard Kevin Zeitler. But it's still at least a full year away from being competitive with established rosters, and the quarterback mismatch in this one will be monstrous.
Coming off a road game against the Packers, this is the kind of loss that would be absolutely crippling to the Lions and the future of Jim Caldwell.

AP Photo

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Week 15 vs. Bears

The Lions have started to own the Bears in recent years as winners of seven of the past eight meetings. The Bears are developing a better defense and running game, but the passing game will be a total mismatch in a Ford Field environment that will totally favor Stafford and the Lions. Heck, this late in the season, Chicago might have turned to rookie Mitch Trubisky.
Sandwiched between three road games, this is the type game Detroit has to take care of late in the year if it wants a shot at the playoffs.

Mike Mulholland | MLive.com

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Week 11 at Bears

The Bears are a little more challenging in their building and showed that last year by knocking off the Lions, 17-14. Soldier Field at 1 p.m. can offer a sleepy feel to the road team. But as long as the Lions offense shows up against a vulnerable secondary like it didn't in this matchup last year, this game shouldn't be all that difficult to win. It'll come one week after that Browns game, and it should be the time to get a little momentum building against some of the only bad rosters on the schedule.

Mike Mulholland | MLive.com

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Week 12 vs. Vikings

The Vikings went 8-8 last season despite some of the worst offensive line injuries any team has had in recent years. They should bounce back to challenging for a playoff spot, but this game is on Thanksgiving at Ford Field, and the Lions have been dynamite in this spot in recent years. They've won four straight in this setting, including last year's 16-13 thriller over Minnesota. If the Lions are able to take care of business against the Browns and Bears in back-to-back weeks, they should really be hitting their stride when Minnesota comes to town for the feast.

Mike Mulholland | MLive.com

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