The Detroit Lions travel to the mile-high city to play the Denver Broncos today. Read as the Lion Lowdown writers offer their predictions for this week’s game.
Bruce Walker (@smoke25):
The Detroit Lions—at 3-10-1—arguably qualify as one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams this season. There was a real sense of optimism from most (though not all because—well face it—the Lions have done this before) that expected the Lions to contend for the division lead before the season began.
The preseason predictions that I found for the 5-9 Broncos ranged from 4-12 to 10-6. Not keeping up with the Kansas City Chiefs was a common theme that has played out in real life. Their 3rd place standing in the AFC West is unsurprising.
The Detroit Lions will start a rookie quarterback again today. David Blough continues to show the fans what they lost when Matthew Stafford went down. They will face a potentially ill but mobile rookie quarterback today in Drew Lock. Lock is 2-1 in his three starts and plays today in front of a home crowd.
The Lions have been terrible against the pass this season, allowing an average QBR of 102.5 to opposing quarterbacks. Another way to look at that data is that of the 18 teams that have surrendered a quarterback rating greater than 89.1—the Broncos sit at 89.6—only two of those teams have a winning record. The Lions are close to the worst in the NFL that category.
In fact, Detroit is one of only two teams to yield in excess of 400 yards per game this season. They need to give up 422 yards per game in order to set a record for their worst defense ever.
The Lions are seven point underdogs on the road today. FiveThirtyEight gives the Broncos an 83% chance of winning today. Neither team is in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Broncos are in a position where they just may be showcasing their quarterback of the future.
With that in mind, I expect Lock to look really good today. Every other quarterback has done that this season against Detroit, so why not? I expect that to continue until I see that the Lions are capable of crafting a defense that is capable of generating pressure on a quarterback.
The Ford Family announced this past week that the team will retain General Manager Bob Quinn and Head Coach Matt Patricia next season. In spite of that, or perhaps supported by that decision, the pressure to win today is off. The Broncos will take care of business against the Lions today.
Detroit Lions 13 — Denver Broncos 24
James Gullett (@gullett_james):
The banged-up Lions travel to Mile High on Sunday for a rare 4 pm start. Detroit added their eighth player this month to the injured reserve with LB Christain Jones. However, RB Kerryon Johnson will be activated off of the IR and is expected to pay.
I do not know why the Lions would want to use their injury-prone running back in meaningless games. There isn’t any need to risk him getting hurt again or potentially costing the Lions a great draft pick with a meanless win — like last season in week 17 that resulted in the Lions missing out on pass rusher Josh Allen.
But here we are, the Broncos pass rush may have a field day with RT Tyrell Crosby as he will be tasked to block Von Miller. Denver QB Drew Lock has seemed to be dialed in at times this year and if he does this game, it won’t matter that the Lions got back Johnson.
The Lions may be able to slow down RB Phillip Lindsey. Since week 10, oddly enough, Detroit has the top run defense in the NFL. Maybe that’s because opponents don’t need to run given the amount of success they have through the air. With that being said, I believe the Lions offense will still struggle and their defense will allow the Broncos to move the ball at will.
Detroit Lions 14 — Denver Broncos 20
Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier):
For the second consecutive week, the Lions play a team with no playoff hopes. These types of meaningless games this late in the season can be funny sometimes. You would think the Broncos should win and I expect them to win at home. That’s not to say it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Lions could pull the upset.
The Lions are still looking for their first win since Matthew Stafford went down with his back injury. Stafford isn’t the only injury the Lions are dealing with now. It feels like there are more starters on injured reserve than are still playing.
Offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, has done a remarkable job given the situation. In recent weeks, QB David Blough has struggled though. This week won’t be any easier for him. I don’t believe the Lions offense will be able to overcome the amount of points the defense will give up.
Defensively, Detroit has a history of allowing rookie quarterbacks to put up career performances.
At this point, it would be nice to see a Lions victory after months without one, but it’s ultimately not in the team’s best interest.
Detroit Lions 16 — Denver Broncos 26Follow here: