NFL schedule 2018: Each team’s biggest game

Mandatory Credit: Rich Graessle-Getty Images
Mandatory Credit: Rich Graessle-Getty Images /
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Detroit Lions: vs. Green Bay Packers

The Lions swept the season series from the Packers last season for the first time since 1991, which is also the last year they won a playoff game.That streak with nothing better than a regular season split spanned the entire Brett Favre era and all of Aaron Rodgers’ tenure as Green Bay’s starter, though Rodgers did miss both games last year with a broken collarbone. But winning never requires an apology or sympathy when an opponent’s best player is missing, so Detroit can absolutely hang their hat on sweeping the Packers heading into a new season.

Detroit was swept by Green Bay in 2016, but prior to that the last time they were swept in the season series was 201. So recently, at least, the rivalry has been more competitive than you might think given the general trajectory of the Lions and Packers’ franchises.

Head coach Jim Caldwell’s flimsy “contract extension” is reportedly only fully guaranteed through the 2018 season. So he’s heading into another season of hot seat talk, with playoffs or bust the likely mandate internally. A second straight season sweep of the Packers, however improbably as long as Rodgers is healthy, might earn Caldwell a lifetime contract. A win at home against a generally insurmountable rival would go a long way toward assuring a trip back to the playoffs, and Caldwell’s job security would naturally increase.