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Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez dropped the latest additions to the Free Lions Line, and debated what else they needed, March 14, 2019 at Allen Park.
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press

The NFL is set to release its 2019 schedule at 8 p.m. Wednesday, though certain games will leak early when team staff get it in their hands. Right now, here's what we know:

Detroit The opponents of 2019 Lions' have been set

NFL has a scheduling format that follows it every year that makes it easy to identify opponents. The Lions are playing at home and away from each other in their rivals division, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, and facing the AFC West and NFC East this season. Since they finished their division last year, the Lions also played on the last team at NFC West (Arizona Cardinals) and NFC South (Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Lions's entire home schedule includes games Packers, Vikings, Bears, Bucs, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers.

On the road, they faced Packers, Vikings, Bears, Cardinals, Broncos, Raiders, Eagles and Washington.

Kerryon Johnson runs lions against the Patriots in the second half of the Lions' win 26-10 on Sunday, September 23, 2018, in Ford Field. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, TNS)

Thanksgiving rematch of works

Dates and time for the full schedule will be announced Wednesday, though a matchup appears to be set. In February, the Sports Business Daily reported that the Lions would receive the Bears in their annual Thanksgiving game.

Last year, the Bears released the Lions at Thanksgiving, 23-16. Chicago won at NFC North in 2018 and should be a favorite playoff going into the season again.

Night moves

For fans, one of the biggest shows on the release day schedule is what games are played in the prime of time. [19659006] Last year, Lions had two main game hours in the first three weeks of the season, home games against the New York Jets on a Monday and at the New England Patriots on a Sunday night, and beyond .

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates the crowd after winning the Oakland Raiders at the Arrowhead Stadium. ] (Photo: Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports)

Lions are not a big television. They do not have star-caliber players in their roster, do not play in a major media market and come in six seasons. But they have some games against attractive teams. Packers and Bears, with the possibility of big TV draws for different reasons, Chiefs, Cowboys and Giants should be network favorites this year due to their teams or hometowns, and the Eagles and Raiders, in their last season at The Oakland, must also create interest.

From the perspective of the Lions, fans must gather to see Chiefs (because of Patrick Mahomes) and Cowboys (because they are Cowboys) regardless of the day and the time they play the game, so the organization can benefit more from playing Bucs or Chargers in prime time.

What else do we know?

Packers and Bears open the 100th NFL season in September, and the Oakland A host is the Tigers at the Oakland -Alameda Coliseum on the first weekend of the season, so games start from the list for in the opener of the Lions.

The Super Bowl champion of the New England Patriots is rumored to be playing either Chiefs or Cowboys in their opener on Sunday night well, so the Lions' The best bet for Week 1 is a game against Vikings, Bucs, Giants, Chargers, Cardinals, Broncos, Eagles or Washington.

The NFL usually schedules Sundays of 17 games (and often Sundays 16 games) against division opponents, so the Lions are expected to close the year against their NFC North foes.

reported three games on Saturday before Christmas this year, December 21, and the Lions did not play Thursday's game out of Thanksgiving from 2015, so it could be time for one of those that's it.

Ranking of openers [19659005] So who do you want to see Lions play in their opener? After the rough season of last year, the game at home would be a great start (though NFL's gift was wrapped up in the Lions game last year, and they immediately humiliated themselves on national TV).

Here is my rank of potential Week 1 game, with the understanding that Chiefs or Cowboys would be a wonderful draw if they did not open against the Patriots:

Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, in 2018. (Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)

1. Giants : The Lions can not do it against another New York team last year, but the Giants were terrible. Plus, Saquon Barkley will be happy to watch.

2. Bucs : Bucs can be worse than the Giants, and the Lions can use a win to start the year.

3. Cardinals : Kyler Murray in his first game, anyone?

4. Washington : A game of the road, and one that does not make any buzz, but still a winnable game.

5. Vikings home or away: The two teams know one, and division games are always fun. One problem: Common Vikings put pounding on Matthew Stafford, and could start the season on the wrong note.

6. Chargers : The Chargers must be one of the best NFL teams this year, but better to start the season at the Ford Field.

7. Broncos : Going west and playing at altitude can be a challenge after what must be another training camp, but the Broncos are not playoff players.

8. Eagles : I expect the Eagles to have a bounce-back season with a wholesome Carson Wentz. It's a great team, and if the Lions travel to Philadelphia on Sunday 1, their chances of getting home are not good.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Read more on Detroit Lions and sign up for our Lions newsletter.