It’s one of those games, when the schedule is released, you mark with a “W.”
The Bears at Ford Field.
Although a loss in Sunday's opener wouldn’t end the Lions’ season right then and there, it would present fair warning the more things have changed, the more they will likely remain the same.
Enormous pressure would be on the Lions during Week 2 at Green Bay.
Remember Jets’ rookie quarterback Sam Darnold lighting up the Lions’ defense on Monday Night Football? It set the pace for Matt Patricia’s first season as head coach.
Recall rookie Kyler Murray doing the same during the fourth quarter as the Lions blew a big lead and settled for a tie in 2019’s opener at Arizona? The Lions never recovered.
Patricia has revamped his coaching staff, and the roster has been cast in the mold of general manager Bob Quinn.
The Lions are expected to start five former Patriots Sunday - defensive end Trey Flowers, safety Duron Harmon, linebacker Jamie Collins, defensive tackle Danny Shelton (a third of the defense) and slot receiver Danny Amendola.
Matthew Stafford is, by all accounts, “dialed in.” The Lions’ made a classic win-now move by signing future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson.
Conversely, the Bears present an element of NFL dysfunction. Their NFC North title in 2018 seems like a distant memory and an outlier.
The Bears made a big splash during the off season by acquiring quarterback Nick Foles, yet holdover Mitch Trubisky was named starter by head coach Matt Nagy.
Chicago’s feature back David Montgomery has been hindered by a groin injury, and there isn’t much depth beyond Tarik Cohen, an ideal third-down back, but not an inside runner.
The task is simple. Stop the run. Put the ball in Trubisky’s hands. He is more than capable of losing the game.
The quarterback matchup appears extremely slanted toward the Lions. Stafford was outstanding last season until injured. He appears on the cusp of perhaps his best season.
Yet, the Lions’ QB edge seemed even more pronounced the previous two openers - and disaster nonetheless ensued.
Sure, it’s normally ridiculous to suggest an opener is a must-win. Until you lose it and a 13-3 team from last season is next on the road.
Winning Sunday won’t make the Lions’ season, but could possibly break it before it even gets started.