Detroit Lions vs. Denver Broncos Pick 12/22/19
Detroit Lions (3-10-1 SU, 5-9 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (5-9 SU, 8-6 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Sunday, December 22, 2019 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado
Point Spread: DET +6.5/DEN -6.5 (Intertops)
Over/Under Total: 38
The Detroit Lions take on the Denver Broncos at Mile High in week 16 action on Sunday. Both teams had a really hard time of it on Sunday. Denver marched into Arrowhead, hoping to give their AFC West rivals a run for their money but instead absorbed a 23-3 loss where their offense really struggled. They should find things a little more manageable this week, first by being at home, but also with the form of their opponent. With the Lions getting blown out in a 38-17 loss at home to the Buccaneers for their seventh straight loss, their levels of resistance are sinking seemingly with every passing week. With Denver being a hard team to lay a number on and Detroit so in the dumps, what’s the right move this week?
Stick a Fork in Detroit?
With seven straight losses and 10 in their last 11, confidence is pretty low on Detroit. It’s one thing to stink it up. After all, they’re not the only team hurting in this league. But after a 2-0-1 start, they have really gone into the tank. Them covering the spread against Chicago on Thanksgiving was their only cover since week six. And watching Tampa beat them by three TDs on their field suggests a team in a state of freefall. Coach Matt Patricia is presumably looking at his last two games at the helm, and right now, Detroit looks like a dying animal awaiting the sweet release of death.
It’s not all Detroit’s fault, as a string of injuries this season took them apart at the seams. They were not prepared for life without Stafford and are now paying the price. They are so deep in the barrel at running back that they’re starting Wes Hills now. Their most compelling weapon on offense is Kenny Golladay. And with Denver still being a team that can bring the heat on defense, this could be a tough road-spot for the Lions. And while the Detroit defense has sporadically shown some resistance lately, look for Drew Lock and targets like Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant to feast on a Detroit secondary that is among the worst in the league, while getting off in the run game, as well, with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman.
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Drawbacks with Denver
Still an imperfect team, Vic Fangio has seen some great things manifest on defense. The offense, however, hasn’t exactly followed suit. Drew Lock is the third different starter they’ve had at quarterback, and there will be growing pains with the rookie, as we saw last week in a 3-point output over the Chiefs on the road. They are coming off a stretch of 4 road games in 5 weeks, so being home might help, and they’ve delivered more consistently at Mile High. There are some kooky results this season for Denver—a shutout win over the Titans, a road-blowout of the Texans, to name a few. But as a work-in-progress, there will be some clunkers from time to time.
Denver at Home
Issues aside, Mile High is not an easy spot for visitors. That is doubly true for a weary team like Detroit, especially when you have a pressuring and playmaking “D” working on you the whole afternoon. The Denver pass-rush, their run-game, and the conditions could have Detroit winded by the second half. A lot of these guys on the Detroit sideline never played at Mile High before. Things a team doesn’t do well have a way of being magnified in this setting. That goes for Detroit QB David Blough throwing picks, a Lions’ O-line fading as the game carries on, and a battered defense chasing its tail in the second half.
What to Expect from Detroit Offense
On the surface, it’s not a great matchup for a stripped-bare Detroit offense. Blough had an interesting debut against Chicago in a rare cover for the Lions. Since then, he has struggled. Going against the heavy Denver pass-rush could make it even harder on the young signal-caller. Detroit is forced to take to the air a lot in light of their run-game, now being 14-deep as far as running backs. That feeds into what Denver does best, as their secondary has remained a standout part of the team—the only remaining vestiges of their championship run from several seasons ago.
Pause for Thought
Generally, the idea of laying close to a touchdown on a 5-win team coming off a 3-point performance isn’t that comforting. Since week four, however, you’re looking at basically a .500 team with a rising Broncos bunch. And their 8-6 ATS record and being 7-3 ATS in their last ten games attests to a certain level of overachievement. But those games were with Denver getting points. Other than getting a few points here and there at home against bad teams, they have never even warranted being this big of a favorite yet this season. There’s a reason for that. And a sub-.500 team that relies on defense isn’t typically a spot where you feel great laying points.
Lay the Number on the Home Favorite
Denver’s lack of appeal as a big favorite notwithstanding, the value isn’t actually that bad. With Detroit and how hard they’re struggling both overall and ATS, it doesn’t seem like these spreads are taking into account the full scope of their issues. It’s hard to envision a spurt here when the signs of life over the last few months have been so minimal. You have two teams here who are out of it. One team is eagerly awaiting the end of the season, while the other is still trying to make things happen. In week 16, that counts for something. I’ll lay the points on Denver.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Denver Broncos minus 6.5 points.
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