Lions’ fans victimized by schedule

The Mining Journal's reporter Steve Brownlee receives a Good News Awards from Bishop James Garland during a lunch and awards ceremony Wednesday at the Landmark Inn in Marquette. (Journal photo by Dave Edwards)

For the first time this season, a Detroit Lions game won’t be available on local cable or broadcast television.

That’s because the Lions and Green Bay Packers are playing separate games at the same time, 1 p.m. Sunday, and both games are being carried by the same network, Fox.

Since Charter Communications was forced about a decade ago through Federal Communications Commission regulations to drop its other Fox stations, which had come out of Green Bay or downstate Cadillac, us Lions fans some years had missed close to half the team’s games on TV.

It’s improved lately with the proliferation of games outside Sunday afternoons and the Packers as a “sexy” team to be showcased at night.

But the string runs out this week.

Of course, you can get a dish or some other TV alternative for this weekend, or visit a local sports bar that has the same.

This blackout could’ve happened last week, too, since both Lions and Packers would normally have been shown on Fox based on them playing NFC teams. Even though Detroit played at 1 p.m. and Green Bay at 4:25 p.m., if it wasn’t Fox’s turn to telecast a Sunday doubleheader, the Lions would’ve been out of luck.

Then some horse-trading apparently occurred, I’m sure without Yoopers in mind, where the Chicago at Detroit game got switched to CBS. I’ve noticed it happen once in awhile, and when it happens it leaves me confounded.

But I try not to look that gift horse in the mouth.

Now onto this week’s picks:

Today, 8:30 p.m.

Los Angeles at Seattle — A new coach can invigorate a team like the Rams. But so can an embarrassment in a national game like what the Packers did to Seattle. Seahawks, 38-17.

Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

Miami at N.Y. Jets — They opened up a new time slot for this? If it was going to be really cold, I’d take the Jets in a hibernating bear’s heartbeat, but it’ll be 45 degrees with rain. And I like Miami backup quarterback Matt Moore over anybody the Jets can trot out. Dolphins, 19-13.

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Philadelphia at Baltimore — Take the home team with something to play for. Ravens, 33-23.

Cleveland at Buffalo — It’s panic-button time for the Browns, but Buffalo is within two games of the last AFC wild card team, Miami, with the Dolphins coming to the shores of Lake Erie next week. Bills, 24-20.

Green Bay at Chicago — OK, now I’ll hitch my wagon to Aaron Rodgers & Co. Packers, 40-29.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati — The Bengals’ bungles knocked this game out of prime time. For good reason. Steelers, 31-26.

Jacksonville at Houston — Houston’s “D” will make us remember where the Jags went wrong. Texans, 18-12.

Tennessee at Kansas City — KC, you passed your big test last Thursday vs. Oakland, so don’t blow it now. Chiefs, 23-17.

Indianapolis at Minnesota — Houston had the “D” to knock Indy QB Andrew Luck silly last week. So should Minnesota. Vikings, 24-17.

Detroit at N.Y. Giants — I was all ready to take the Giants with Detroit QB Matthew Stafford’s messed-up finger, then I see Sunday’s forecast for New York is mid-50s and more rain. Changed my mind. Lions 23-16.

Sunday, 4-4:30 p.m.

New Orleans at Arizona — Only 1-12 San Fran and 0-13 Cleveland have given up more points than Nah-lins. Cardinals, 29-25.

San Francisco at Atlanta — Who’d I just mention? And against Atlanta’s offense? Falcons, 44-30.

New England at Denver — Altitude maybe, but cold shouldn’t affect Tom Brady & Co. Patriots, 26-16.

Oakland at San Diego — It should be an angry Oakland bunch after last week, plus their natural home is on the road. Raiders, 29-22.

Sunday, 8:30 p.m.

Tampa Bay at Dallas — In their five-game winning streak, the Bucs have taken down two teams with a good shot at getting a first-round bye — KC and Seattle. Can they make it three in six weeks? Buccaneers, 23-19.

Monday, 8:30 p.m.

Carolina at Washington — The Redskins are a half-game behind Tampa for the last wild card. Incentive all day and halfway into the next. Redskins, 30-24.

Last week — 11-5, 69 percent. Season — 129-77-2, 63 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is