The Green Bay Packers are no strangers to playing in prime time. In the team’s first 16 games of the 2022 regular season, they played in night games on five different occasions, with three of those coming on Sunday, one on Thursday, and one on Monday.
Given the frequency with which the Packers play in the evening, the NFL’s decision to move the Packers’ week 18 game against the Detroit Lions to Sunday Night Football should therefore be nothing new for the green and gold. However, the same cannot be said for the Lions, who will play in their first night game of the entire season.
The NFL generally tries to put elite matchups on Sunday Night Football, and with the Lions’ preseason expectations being low, it is little surprise that they did not end up in the premier time slot at any point this season. However, more surprising is the fact that the Lions were somehow not assigned a single game on either Thursday or Monday nights. Even more absurd is the fact that Detroit has played every single one of their games in the early time slot, with none of the Lions’ first 16 games this season kicking off after 1:00 PM Eastern. The only contest that did not begin at 1:00 PM came on Thanksgiving Day, when their game against the Buffalo Bills began just a bit earlier, at 12:30 PM.
This is a bizarre quirk of scheduling, one that results in part because the Lions have not played a game outside of the Eastern or Central time zones. Games played in the other two time zones would at least guarantee a late afternoon start. However, this year’s schedule rotation matched up the NFC North division against the NFC East and AFC East divisions, and the only NFC West team on Detroit’s schedule — the Seattle Seahawks — came to Ford Field. Still, the fact that the Lions did not end up with a single prime time game is bizarre and fascinating, as nearly every NFL team ends up with at least one Thursday or Monday night game on the schedule.
Meanwhile, the Packers’ 2022 games have been almost evenly split across the three main time slots. They have played five games that kicked off in the early afternoon, five in the late afternoon, and the aforementioned six in prime time, in addition to one game in London that was a mid-afternoon kickoff locally but started at 9:30 PM in the Eastern Time Zone.
Coincidentally, the last prime time kickoff for the Lions before this weekend also came at Lambeau Field, when they played the Packers in week two of the 2021 season. That contest was a Monday Night Football game, which the Packers won 35-17.
It is impossible to predict whether the Lions’ inexperience in prime time will have any meaningful effect on the result of Sunday’s game. But unlike Detroit, the Packers have had plenty of experience adjusting to different start times this season, both at home and on the road.
Editor’s note: We at Acme Packing Company send our best wishes to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin and his family after the cardiac event he suffered during Monday night’s game in Cincinnati. Although we will continue to post about the Green Bay Packers in the coming days, we agree that Hamlin’s health should be the NFL’s highest priority at this time and that the remainder of the season should be secondary.
Those looking for a way to support Hamlin can click here to find the GoFundMe page for his charitable foundation.