NFL Schedule 2023: Detroit Lions (yes, them) get season opener as spotlight continues to surge

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The Detroit Lions have not reached the playoffs six seasons. They haven't won a post-season game in 31. Most years, they only enter the national consciousness when they blow up on Thanksgiving Day and fans across the country complain that they strangle a legacy on the early holiday television window.

Detroit started 1-6 last season. And sure, they finished the season on a winning tear, but they didn't reach the playoffs and boasted almost no star players. Ask the average fan to name a lion. Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson? Legendary QB Jared Goff? Coach Dan Campbell?

It's not the New York Jets that are adding Aaron Rodgers in the offseason.

And yet, as the NFL schedule is set to be released on Thursday, there are already plenty of signs that Detroit television is an unlikely, or at least non-traditional, darling.

The league has already announced that the Lions will appear in the opening night game on Thursday, September 7 in Kansas , the defending Super Bowl champions.

This is about as high-profile as a regular season game gets. The concept of Opening Night was established in 2002. Not surprisingly, lions never appeared in it.

of this comes a year after Detroit had zero regular season games scheduled for prime time. (The Week 17 clash at Green Bay was flexed to Sunday night because of playoff implications.) Essentially, you couldn't play a more unknown schedule.

As the NFL schedule continues, we learn that Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions are playing in their first game of the season. , that lion. (Photo by Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

It was par for the course. It is the least accomplished franchise in the NFL, with only one playoff win in the past 65 years.

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For the Lions, these are fun days, exciting days and days that they have earned with the 8-2 Heaters and the team completing the 2022 season. The disastrous start was too much to overcome in the playoff chase, but by the end Detroit was one of the better teams in the NFC.

Beating Green Bay in Lambeau and keeping the hated Packers out of the playoffs in what proved to be Rodgers' last game was enough. Now with Rodgers gone, the focus is really on winning the NFC North for the first time in three decades.

So how many nationally televised games will Detroit get this season? How long is Sunday afternoon? how many mondays

The NFL schedule release is typically a tricked-up promotional event that represents nothing. Everyone already knows who each team will play and where they will play them. The rest are just correcting the system.

Perhaps the only drama is figuring out whether a new team jumps into the heavy promotion rotation typically reserved for Super Bowl contenders or insurance professional-level star players. There is always an ups and downs in things.

It's because, for example, you'll see more Jacksonville than New this year. That, not long ago, would have been laughable.

The Jaguars, however, actually won a playoff game last year and boast a young, big-name quarterback in Trevor Lawrence.

And while the New York Jets are also expected to be everywhere next season, a big part of that is Rodgers' addition, not just a non-playoff team rising.

Detroit hasn't proven anything and they haven't added notes to anyone. All of this is projection for a team that general manager Brad Holmes has built like a team, not just one or two elite players.

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There's no doubt that Hutchinson looked great as a rookie. And Goff is a name, but much of it stems from his time with the Los Angeles Rams. He's probably most famous for turning down Detroit two seasons ago so LA could acquire Matthew Stafford and win the Super Bowl.

Plus, it's not exactly a name-brand roaster. Which is fine with Holmes and Campbell. Nothing else has worked in Detroit for years. The franchise boasts generational talent (Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson). Perhaps building a complete and balanced team will do the job.

Besides, winning makes a name, not the other way around.

Of course, now comes the challenge that has always bothered the Lions – winning. Welcome to Spotlight. There is no one to dash the hopes. The team and fan base are active. Can they finally prove they're worth the attention?

“Look, we don't want to take a step back,” Holmes said this offseason. “We don't want to stand still. We appreciate the success we had last year and are extremely proud of it, but we didn't make the playoffs.”

The goal is set: division title, playoffs and maybe more.

And no matter what history, both recent and ancient, once that schedule is released, it's likely America will have plenty of opportunities to try and see if it can be achieved.