Lions should get a couple prime time games in 2012

Posted Apr 6, 2012

The Lions are playing for a national television audience for the second-consecutive preseason when they face the Ravens in Baltimore on Aug. 17.

The Lions defeated the Patriots 34-10 in a nationally televised preseason game at Ford Field last year.

The NFL’s regular-season schedule won’t be out for another week or two, but I'd expect the Lions to be awarded a couple prime-time games based off last year's 10-6 season and some of the bright young stars on their roster.

The Lions were awarded a Monday Night game for the first time since 2001 last season. The atmosphere at Ford Field was so electric, and so loud, it forced the Bears into nine false-start penalties as the Lions won 24-13. That didn’t go unnoticed by the league or the networks.

"Don't underestimate the impact you (fans) have on the TV networks," Lions president Tom Lewand said at a town hall meeting for season ticketholders last month. "I had more than a few people at the NFL and NBC say, 'We heard about that Monday Night game in Detroit. We want some of that.'"

I’m guessing the networks will get some of that in 2012.

The Lions were on primetime an additional two times against the Saints (once in the playoffs) last season.

There are a few matchups that scream national television for the Lions this season.

Lions at 49ers:

The game in San Francisco against the 49ers has Monday Night football written all over it. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz probably won’t like the buildup to that game after the post-game handshake between him and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh made national news after last year’s game.

But Schwartz and Harbaugh aside, the matchup will feature one of the top offenses in the league last year (Lions) against the one of the league’s best defenses.

There are just too many storylines in this game to deprive the national audience of.

Lions vs. Packers:

The first matchup between the Lions and Packers became national news when Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was ejected and later suspended two games for stomping on Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith.

The second game, Week 17 at Lambeau Field, featured 1,000 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and 86 points. Packers MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn’t even play in the game.

There will be playoff implications in both matchups between the first- and second-place teams in the division from a year ago. I could see either a Sunday or Monday night game for at least one of these matchups.

Lions at Bears:

We’ve already mentioned how crazy the atmosphere was during the Monday Night game against the Bears a season ago.

The Bears have added some nice pieces in free agency this offseason and would have likely been in the hunt for the final playoff spot with the Lions last year if quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte hadn’t gone down with injury.

A Sunday night game at Soldier Field between two division opponents who are playoff-caliber teams could be attractive to NBC.

Lions at Eagles:

This one is a bit of a wild card. The Eagles are coming off a disappointing 2011 season and if they get off to a hot start they’ll be a hot-ticket item for the networks.

Who doesn’t want to watch Eagles quarterback Michael Vick being chased around by Cliff Avril and Ndamukong Suh? I’d watch that on Sunday night, even if I didn’t have to.