Mike Tirico expects Lions to return to Sunday Night Football spotlight


The Lions entered last season without a single primetime game on their schedule. That ultimately changed when they were flexed to Sunday Night Football in the season finale, and NBC play-by-play man Mike Tirico expects the Lions -- "America's Team," he agreed -- to be back in the Sunday Night spotlight this season.

"I think it’s a good shot," Tirico said Wednesday on 97.1 The Ticket. "If we go by last year, the schedule is about a month away from coming out, and I would hope that we see a Lions game there, for a variety of reasons. One, the way they ended. Two, the build-up, obviously. And three, that last game last year, that Packers game was something."

With Green Bay needing a win to make the playoffs and, it turns out, Aaron Rodgers playing his final game with the Packers (we think), the Lions went into Lambeau Field and stole the show. Their comeback win that topped off an 8-2 run down the stretch and sealed their first winning record in five years wound up being NBC's second-largest Sunday night audience of the season and the most-watched Sunday Night Football finale in six years. It was also Detroit's first SNF appearance since 2018.

"I’m glad that game ended up on TV because even though the Lions didn’t get a chance to make the playoffs and control their destiny, they showed everybody they're a fun team and on-the-rise team. And I think the nation saw it, because it was on that stage," said Tirico, who lives in Ann Arbor. "I'm not counting on a home game (for the Lions this season), but if we get one, that would be one of the fun weekends of my year. We are very hopeful, for sure."

The Lions, who are favored to win the NFC North, do have several intriguing road matchups that could appeal to NBC. They visit the Saints, which will be a homecoming for Dan Campbell (and Aaron Glenn); the Cowboys, who are always a Sunday night draw (and a literal homecoming for Campbell); and the World champion Chiefs, along with the Chargers, Ravens, Buccaneers and their division foes.

Detroit's home slate looks less attractive, with out-of-division matchups with the Broncos, Raiders, Panthers, Falcons and Seahawks, only one of whom made the playoffs last season. Still, Tirico is holding out hope for a return to Ford Field, where he hasn't called a Lions game since a Saturday matinee against the Bears late in the 2017 season.

"It’s time," he said. "It actually might be the best TV booth in the league -- the location, the size, where you are in the building, you feel like you’re a part of the fans. It’s a great building and from a TV standpoint, I think if not No. 1, No. 1-2 in terms of the best booth to do a game from in the league. That doesn’t mean a damn thing to anybody, but we all like coming to Detroit and I would love it because I’d get back in the car and go home."

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Patrick McDermott / Contributor