NFL Week 8 Picks: Lions at Broncos

The Detroit Lions have lost two in a row and sit at 5-2 on the season. This week they visit Mile High and the Denver Broncos. Denver is fresh off their miracle in Miami victory and have become the hot topic of discussion everywhere this week. The Broncos sit at 2-4, but have been in every game this season other than the blowout at Green Bay. This should be a great battle in a stadium that is sure to be raucous and media coverage that should only be given to games between division leaders, but the Tebow-mania is viral and this will be a great barometer for the young QB.

Despite the public love affair with Tim Tebow the betting community remains in the corner of the Detroit Lions. The Lions are being backed by 72 % of the bettors thus far, however the line has been bumped down from Detroit as -3.5 favorites to -2 on some oddsmakers books all the way down to -1!?! I can honestly say that it has been a long time since I have seen this many varying numbers on a game. Why? Normally when a line moves by 2 points you go in the direction the line moves. Using this thought process would tell you that sharp bettors may be throwing some late money on Denver. When the books are trying to gain more action on a side they will raise the spread to lure Broncos backers in, but this movement is very peculiar to me. The over/under has also dropped a rather large 3 points from 44.5 to 41.5 points. Another red flag here. With the Broncos 4th worst in the league in points allowed at 25.8 ppg and Detroit puts up an impressive 27.7 ppg, why would the total drop 3 points. Let’s look a bit closer.

Trends

Detroit is 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12, but only 3-7-2 ATS vs teams under .500. They are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 on the road but again have a flip side of 0-8-1 as road favorites.

Denver is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 as home underdogs of less than 3 points, but 0-7-1 ATS following a win.

The over/under is 4-0 in Denver’s last 4 home games and 20-7 in their last 27 at Mile High stadium. The over is 4-0 in Detroit’s last 4 as favorites  and 5-0-1 in their last 6 on the road. With all these trends favoring the over, you have to wonder again, why is the total moving down?

Lions Offense vs Broncos Defense

The Lions have a lot of injuries on the offensive side of the ball. Best and Harrison are both out at RB and their disappointing running game takes a further hit with tackle Gosder Cherilus questionable for the game. Maurice Morris is a more physical styled running back than Javhid Best and this should help ease some the rushing attacks problems. Morris has the ability to break free of inital contact and the Dolphins did have some success tallying 94 yards with a rookie, no line and a 3rd down back in Reggie Bush.

The passing game is the key for the Lions in this match-up. Stafford has struggled of late. In the first five weeks he had a 68% completion percentage and a 104.2 passer rating. That was good enough to rank 2nd in the league in both categories putting him among the elite Top 10 quarterbacks in the league. In his last two games, both losses, he has been throwing off of his back foot and not planting that fron foot down hard enough. This has taken some spin off the ball and with less spin comes less velocity, think RPMs. Luckily he will be facing a Denver defense that has just 3 INTs on the season (1/2 what KC recorded last week) and have given up the 4th most PPG in the NFL at 25.8. Will it be Champ Bailey or Jonathan Wilhite covering Calvin Johnson remains to be seen, but my bet is on Bailey due to Wilhite’s lack of size. Calvin Johnson should have a big day this week against this week secondary, especially down in the red-zone. The Broncos play a Base 4-3 D and typically rely heavily on the skills of rookie phenom Von Miller (6 sacks) and Elvis Dumervil, who is doubtful this weekend. With Dumervil out at DE and Miller most likely being the lone pass rush threat for Denver, expect lots of room over the middle for Brandon Pettigrew. The safeties will have to double-cover Johnson and with the speedy Nate Burleson going deep this will leave Pettigrew in one on one coverage against and undersized safety or a slower LB. The success of Von Miller is paramount for the Broncos to have a chance in this game.

Broncos Offense vs Lions Defense

Tim Tebow has been analyzed this past week  more than any player I can remember in ages. ESPN Stats & Info did a study on his film and found the following information that I happened to find pretty fascinating. In 14 of 37 pass attempts Tebow has either underthrown or overthrown his target for a 37.8% inaccuracy percentage, which is the worst in the NFL this season for QBs with at least 30 passes. The studies did find some favorable numbers for Tebow. Of the 96 yards he has rushed for so far this season 66.7% of those have come after first contact. To say he is tough would be an understatement, but he is facing the ravenous monster known as Ndamukong Suh. Suh should be very fired up for this challenge after being called out by Atlanta Falcons players for being dirty. I know Tebow is tough, but I think it is safe to say that if his first contact is with Suh, that 66.7% of yards gained is dropping pretty significantly. Making matters more difficult for the Broncos is the injury to Willis McGahee. He will be replaced this week by Knowshon Moreno, but Moreno is more of a screen-catching type back at this point and if Suh draws the double teams he’s accustomed to Corey Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch will be right in Tebow’s face. Manning the right side of the defensive front-line they will be responsible for keeping the moderately average QB from rolling out into space on bootlegs. The Broncos also have a very weak WR corps with Eric Decker leading the way. Running the ball is really the best chance Denver has of keeping the Time of Possession battle in their favor. The Lions are susceptible in the run game, but if they should get up early in this game, Denver could be in for a blowout similar to the one they suffered vs GB.

Game Predictions

I am still not completely sold on Matt Stafford. His mechanics are a bit inconsistent and I suspect a little more balance this week from the offense. Stafford should be good for 220 and 2 TDS, but Von Miller will cause a turnover or two with his ability to not only pressure the QB, but strip the football as well. Calvin Johnson gets a TD and 80 yards receiving. Pettigrew snags the other TD and reels in 7 catches for 70 yards. Maurice Morris should tally somewhere in the range of 70 yards rushing and I think he pounds one in as well. For the Broncos don’t expect Tebow to get past the 180 yard marker in the air. In fact that number is generous, but he can amass 50-60 rushing against this team. Moreno could spring a big one during the course of things if Detroit over pursues and this will help his numbers reach the 80 yards plateau. Fells should be the target for the QB as he should be running for his life most of the day.

Pick: 24-20 Lions to cover the spread by a hair. The over is the pick as well here.

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Comments
6 Responses to “NFL Week 8 Picks: Lions at Broncos”
  1. IanBlanchard says:

    Dear Mr. Knox, a quandry: I have Hillis on my team and the Browns are playing the 49er’s who have been brutal against the run, and Hillis is questionable, as he didn’t practice thurs…..I also have Moreno for the Broncos who is getting the start… I have Hillis in now…but Moreno looks tasty? Who do you like? I am against the wall here and need as many points, obviously, as I can possibly get. Thanks, -Perturbed about Players

  2. brief22 says:

    Nice post and great analysis! I think the Lions will rebound from their 2 losses in a row. I think they’ll win by more, though. My prediction is that they will win by Calvin Johnson exploiting the Broncos’ D.

  3. IanBlanchard says:

    Ya Moreno is actually looking like a great, albeit random, selection. Feed them all beans.

  4. gulfamx says:

    good…………….

  5. gulfamx says:

    i like it

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