Three Notes Heading Into Lions Matchup With Broncos

The Detroit Lions welcome the surging Denver Broncos to Ford Field for a rare Saturday night primetime contest. Detroit and Denver are trending in opposite directions, and this marquee matchup will have plenty of postseason implications. Below are three notes heading into this weekend’s clash between two playoff hopefuls.

Three Notes Heading Into Lions-Broncos

The Master vs The Pupil

Broncos head coach Sean Payton and Lions head coach Dan Campbell have a long history with one another, going back to their days with the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Payton served as the Giants’ quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator from 1999-2002 while Campbell played tight end, and from 2003-2005, Peyton was the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator, calling the shots for a unit that Campbell was a part of. Most notably, he was on Payton’s coaching staff during their time with the New Orleans Saints.

He led the Saints from 2006 to 2021 and brought New Orleans their first championship after defeating the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. Campbell joined Payton’s staff in 2016 and served as his assistant head coach and tight ends coach before taking the head job with Detroit in 2021. Campbell has given Payton tons of credit over the years for helping him get to where he is now, and there’s no doubt he’ll want to defeat his mentor in their first career meeting as head coaches.

Detroit Must Limit Turnovers

Quarterback Jared Goff and the Lions’ offense have caught the turnover bug over the last month. Since Week 11, Detroit has had 10 turnovers in four games and faces a Denver defense in Week 15 that leads the league in takeaways with 24 through 13 games.

This season, the Broncos have forced 13 fumbles while also picking off opposing quarterbacks 11 times. Goff hasn’t been able to protect the ball in recent weeks while being chased out of the pocket and making poor decisions, whether trying to extend plays with his legs or making errant throws. The good news for him, though, is that center Frank Ragnow returned to practice this week and is in line to play on Saturday after missing last weekend’s contest against the Chicago BearsGraham Glasgow will slide back over to guard, and a fully healthy offensive line should be able to provide Goff more time to operate in the pocket as well as improve the run game. If Detroit can win the turnover battle, they should be able to reach the double-digit win mark on Saturday night.

Lions Can Clinch Playoff Berth This Weekend

Although Detroit can’t win their division for the first time in 30 years this weekend, they can still clinch a playoff berth but will need some help in the process.

There are 16 different ways that the Lions can return to the postseason for the first time since the 2016 season. Some are more complex than others, but the three with the least amount of outcomes are the following:

  1. DET win + SEA loss or tie + GB loss or tie OR
  2. DET win + SEA loss or tie + MIN loss or tie OR
  3. DET win + SEA loss or tie + LAR loss or tie

The Seattle Seahawks host the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, the Minnesota Vikings travel to take on the Cincinnati Bengals, the Green Bay Packers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Los Angeles Rams welcome the reeling Washington Commanders to SoFi Stadium. The most likely outcome would be the second scenario with the Lions taking care of business against the Broncos, the Bengals continuing their win streak and defeating the Vikings, and then, finally, the Eagles taking down the Seahawks. Even if Detroit doesn’t clinch a postseason berth this weekend, they still have plenty of opportunities to do so in the ensuing weeks.

The Lions will look to avoid consecutive losses for the first time this season. Kickoff is set for 8:15 PM ET on Saturday.

Main Image: © Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

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