The big waves of free agency are over. The draft is complete. Now, all eyes are on the upcoming NFL season. In Detroit, it's anyone's guess as to what kind of leap the Lions can take in 2022. After showing fight in a technically lowly debut under Dan Campbell, the NFC North squad added big names on the trenches (Aidan Hutchinson) and out wide (D.J. Chark, Jameson Williams) this offseason. The most optimistic fans could at least foresee Detroit playing spoiler this fall.
First, they'll have to make it through their 2022 opponents. Below, find a complete look at the teams set to square off with Detroit this year, as well as a rundown of their 18-week regular-season schedule.
Bears: Coming off a 6-11 season, Chicago is still in rebuild mode, with new coach Matt Eberflus looking to keep young QB Justin Fields and a stripped-down roster afloat. Barring an MVP-level breakout from Fields, they don't look all too threatening.
Bills: If they're not AFC favorites, they're close. Josh Allen and Co. are fresh off an AFC Championship bid, and now they've got added reinforcements at pass rusher (Von Miller) and cornerback (Kaiir Elam). They should be a consistently tough out.
Commanders: They've been scrappy at times, and Carson Wentz and Jahan Dotson should give them more offensive upside. Still, this is a volatile organization with question marks at key spots. They shouldn't be pushovers, but they look beatable, too.
Cowboys: A year after squandering a division title with a one-and-done playoff bid, Mike McCarthy may or may not be on the hot seat. Even without Amari Cooper, they've got a lot of playmakers. But can their line hold up to help Dak Prescott make a leap?
Dolphins: Quietly one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL after their hire of Mike McDaniel and splashy play for Tyreek Hill, their threat level boils down to Tua Tagovailoa's development under center. They could easily be challengers.
Eagles: While QB Jalen Hurts must still improve as a passer, they added plenty of pieces to build off their wild-card run. They can run, play physical and now have added reinforcements on defense after the draft. They should be scrappy at the very least.
Giants: Onto the next regime after the Joe Judge era came to a screeching halt, they're banking on Brian Daboll turning Daniel Jones into a reliable QB. The talent has certainly improved, largely through the draft, but they remain in transition.
Jaguars: It's easy to write them off because of the organizational turnover, but Doug Pederson (and a shuffled supporting cast) should help Trevor Lawrence take a step. The question is, can they be competitive on a week-to-week basis?
Jets: The draft alone (Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson II) could enable them to take a big leap from their 4-13 finish a year ago. QB Zach Wilson remains a question mark, but his supporting cast on both sides of the ball is much improved.
Packers: They lost a huge playmaker in Davante Adams, but as long as Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur are in town, they'll remain easy NFC North favorites. Their defense also got an injection of youth through the draft, keeping them formidable.
Panthers: On paper, they've improved, adding a top left tackle (Ikem Ekwonu) to an offense that sorely needed help up front. A healthy Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore gives them weapons, but the QB situation remains a big question mark.
Patriots: If you can count on one thing, it's Bill Belichick guiding a feisty defensive team. No one's sure what their ceiling is, with Mac Jones still growing at QB, but they're never not a tough opponent out of the AFC East.
Seahawks: Who's playing QB? If Pete Carroll is truly rolling with Geno Smith or Drew Lock, their ceiling is limited. But if they double down on the run-first attack, they could still be a tough out, especially with Charles Cross entering at left tackle and a defense that can't be much worse than last year.
Vikings: Most of the key pieces are still in place (QB Kirk Cousins, RB Dalvin Cook, WR Justin Jefferson), and their defense is restocked. It remains to be seen what kind of strategy new coach Kevin O'Connell has up his sleeve.
Full 2022 schedule
vs. Bills (Thursday)