Lions vs. Broncos NFL Week 14 Picks and Predictions

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McTelvin Agim #95 of the Denver Broncos defense celebrates a tackle against the Rams. Dustin Bradford/Getty Images/AFP

The top sportsbooks have released their NFL odds for Sunday’s games including the matchup between Detroit and Denver.

The Lions are coming off their first win of the season, finally, after they remained winless despite several close calls. Denver, meanwhile, has dropped to .500 after losing to a hot Chief squad and hopes to bounce back.

For reasons that I will explain, you should play the total for this game.

Detroit Lions vs. Denver Broncos

Sunday, December 12, 2021 – 04:05 PM EST at Empower Field at Mile High

Denver's Scoring Defense

Know for your sports betting that the "under" is 10-2 in Bronco games this season because Denver regularly allows a low number of points. Last Sunday witnessed the second game since October 17 against the Raiders where the Broncos allowed over 20 points.

Kansas City scored 22 points on Denver, although it required a pick-six to do so. Before that game, the Broncos had allowed 13 to the Chargers, 30 to the Eagles, 16 to Dallas, 10 to Washington, and 17 to Cleveland.

Missing Swift And More

The 30 points that Philadelphia accomplished against the Bronco defense were also aided by a defensive touchdown. But the Eagles also amassed 216 rushing yards, utilizing in the process a plethora of good running backs and a mobile quarterback who is famously difficult to bring down.

Whereas the Eagles lead the NFL in rushing yards per game, Detroit lacks the personnel to perform the same sort of damage on the ground and ranks 20th in the same category.

His mediocre four-YPC average notwithstanding, D'Andre Swift is the Lions' top playmaker at running back. He is also an effective pass-catcher. Swift, however, is listed as 'questionable' for Sunday's contest. It looks unlikely that he will play because he did not participate in Wednesday's practice. Reports indicate that the chances are very low that he'll play.

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His backup, Jamaal Williams, is a comparatively boring runner who doesn't bring the same pass-catching prowess or the same threat in space as Swift does. Lions' running backs promise to struggle against a Bronco defense that ranks 10th in opposing rushing yards.

Denver's Pass Rush and Jared Goff

If Denver's sack rate at home were a season-long statistic, it would rank first in the NFL. The Broncos are aided in this stat by the acquisition of linebacker Stephen Weatherly, who has two sacks in three games as a Bronco.

With top pass rusher Bradley Chubb back, the Broncos are able to create strong pressure off the edge to amplify the pass-rushing effects of defensive ends Dre'Mont Jones and Shelby Harris who have been impactful in recent Denver wins.

This crew will thrive against a Lions squad that ranks 23rd in limiting the opponent's sack rate. Lions' quarterback Jared Goff will thus be in serious trouble for two reasons.

One, since his days as a Ram, he has relied on play-action to succeed through the air, but his lack of run support will make play-action ineffective. Two, he will enjoy negligible pass protection. There is a third reason to note for your best bets: Goff relies most heavily on tight-end TJ Hockenson.

However, Hockenson is listed as 'questionable' for Sunday's game with a hand injury. Plus, as measured by various stats like touchdowns allowed, Denver is the toughest team against tight ends.

Lions Defense

Much is made of Detroit's run defense. The Lions do rank 28th in limiting opposing rush yards. However, it is in part trivially true that the Lions allow a lot of rushing yards because opponents will run more when they have a lead and they more often have a lead against almost winless Detroit.

In terms of opposing YPC, though, the Lions rank just above the middle of the pack. Most recently, they've shown strong improvement, allowing an average of 3.8 YPC in their last three games as they limited Viking Alexander Mattison to a mediocre output after Chicago's David Montgomery mustered 2.7 YPC.

Detroit has been bested by top-level wide receivers like Minnesota's Justin Jefferson and L.A.'s Cooper Kupp or by elite rush attacks like Philadelphia's.

Otherwise, the Lions have repeatedly been mired in low-scoring games like their 16-14 loss to Chicago, their 16-16 tie against Pittsburgh, and their 13-10 loss against the Nick Chubb-led Browns.

I expect another such low-scoring game since Denver lacks a threatening wide receiver, boasting instead young and regularly lackluster pass-catchers like team-leader Courtland Sutton with his four-straight sub-30-yard outputs, and ranks a mediocre 12th in rushing yards per game.

The Verdict

Denver will reassert itself by riding its strong pass rush and its success against tight ends, and by facing minimal playmaking ability from Lions' players.

Defensively, Detroit will continue its improvement by limiting an unthreatening offense. For the above reasons, expect a low-scoring game for your NFL Picks.

NFL Pick: Under 42 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Under 42 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.