The Denver Broncos finally have a favorable game as they play the 3-10-1 Lions at home. The Broncos are favored by seven points, and the over-under for the game total is 38.5 points. The Broncos should come out of Week 16 with a victory, and it shouldn’t really be a close game. The Lions will be missing key pieces all over the field including starting quarterback Mathew Stafford, A’Shawn Robinson, and tackle Rick Wagner.
The Broncos will be without Ron Leary and Ja’Wuan James along the offensive line, which has become a common theme of the season, and it was reported yesterday that the Broncos team was battling a contagious flu outbreak. The illness had forced a handful of players to miss practice and, in some cases, multiple practices. Among those affected were Noah Fant, Dalton Risner, Dre’Mont Jones, Conner McGovern, and others.
One of the fun storylines that the fans don’t get due to injury, would have been the tight end battle, as the argument leading into the 2019 NFL draft was the floor and ceiling of both of the University of Iowa tight ends. T.J. Hockenson was drafted by the Detroit Lions at No. 8 overall, and the Broncos passed on drafting Devin Bush No. 10 to trade back to No. 20 as they selected the other Iowa product, Noah Fant.
Fant has had his ups and downs. He’s in the top 25 in the NFL in dropped passes and in penalties, and he has also shown that he can struggle in the run blocking at times game. However, he’s growing as a player and has cut down dramatically on mistakes. He has also developed into one of the best weapons in the passing game as he has 37 receptions for 548 yards and three touchdowns. Hockenson has 32 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns. Hockenson was placed on Injured Reserve on Dec. 2 and will be watching his former teammate and friend from the sideline.
Should the Broncos win this game, they would sit at 6-9 and tie their win total from a year ago with a chance to improve their total wins in Week 16 against the division-rival the Raiders. The Broncos’ defense will look to take advantage of a third-string quarterback behind a depleted offensive line, getting only his fourth career start, in David Blough.
The Lions also placed starting wide receiver Marvin Jones, Jr. and linebacker Jarrad Davis, in addition to a defensive tackle and two offensive guards, on Injured Reserve. Needless to say, injuries have played the Lions this year. They have lost seven straight games, where they only averaged 17.7 points per game and the defense was giving up 26.7 points per game.
Denver played a really poor game last week in Kansas City where they were seemingly outclassed on the road in the snow. The game this week is expecting cloudy skies but near-60-degree weather and an opportunity to allow Drew Lock to rebound from adversity should be of assistance.
The Broncos will have a few goals during this game against a beat-up opponent. First, they want to come out of Week 16 with a victory and a chance to end the season better than a year ago. They will also try to get Phillip Lindsay to a 1,000-yard season as he’s currently 150 yards away. The team should aim to build more chemistry in the passing game between Drew Lock, Noah Fant and Courtland Sutton, the trio that represents the future of the franchise. Finally, from an offensive line perspective, they want to see continued success in terms of quarterback pressures, sacks, and penalties.
Defensively, the Broncos need to come out and put up a good performance. They were embarrassed last week as they only gave up 23 points, but they looked anything but competitive. The defense of tight ends needs to show improvement, the pass rush needs to get home and shorten the time in the pocket dramatically, the run defense needs to be stout, and takeaways are key to winning this game. Justin Simmons will likely have a great game to demonstrate his frustration with not being selected to the Pro Bowl despite his amazing season.
Prediction: Broncos 31, Lions 17