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How can the Broncos tame the Lions?

I spoke with Kent Lee Platte about how the two battered teams match up ahead of this week’s contest with Detroit.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Math Bomb’s RAS loved Noah Fant coming out of Iowa.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

After last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Denver Broncos can finish no better than 7-9 this year. Meanwhile the Detroit Lions have been on a long losing streak since starting the season 3-3-1.

With both teams clearly playing for 2020, I couldn’t think of anyone better to talk with this week than Kent Lee Platte of Pride of Detroit. The man known as Math Bomb on Twitter is famous for his Relative Athletic Score, which provides a real indicator of an NFL players athletic ability.

If you’re an armchair GM and haven’t explored RAS ‘til now I strongly advise you follow the jump and learn as much about it as you can.

RAS – What is it and where it’s going

Relative Athletic Scores take player measurements and put them on an easy to understand 0 to 10 scale compared to their position group. A final score is then produced which is also on a 0 to 10 score to show overall athleticism for a draft prospect. This data can be used to chart trends over time, showing that overall athleticism is likely a contributing factor to player success in the NFL.

Of course, with the game this week I also had to bug Math about his Lions. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

1st and 10

Everytime I talk with you I’m tempted to just bother you about RAS the entire time. Another thing Detroit and Denver have in common is how they both took an Iowa tight end last April. Noah Fant’s RAS was really, really good. Who else tested as strongly as he did?

Platte: Fant came in with a 9.88 out of 10.00 RAS, one of the best scores of all time. This was just shy of the 9.94 that Vernon Davis scored and just above 9.86 that Dallas Clark posted in 2003.

Other well known stars at tight end that he put up better numbers than were Jimmy Graham (9.62), Jason Witten (9.62), fellow Iowa tight end George Kittle (9.53), and the now retired Rob Gronkowski (9.31).

2nd and 4

One of the things I’ve been concerned about with the Lions is how Darrell Bevell’s passing game is built to attack the deep parts of the field. Are there any personnel matchups that should concern Broncos Country?

Platte: The biggest issue the Lions have right now in their passing game is their passer. 3rd string quarterback David Blough has struggled to throw anywhere on the field, so while Darrell Bevell’s scheme is built to test teams deep it’s unlikely we’ll see much of that with Blough at the helm.

Kenny Golladay is one of the most physical receivers in the NFL, but he has struggled to put up big numbers with Blough slinging the rock. Still, if they’re throwing it deep you’re going to have one of the best in the game at hauling in contested catches going against one of the best, unheralded safeties in the NFL in Justin Simmons, and I’m here for that.

3rd and 4

The Lions run defense has been a bright spot this season. What do the Broncos need to do to for Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman to have a good day Sunday?

Platte: I’m not sure the Broncos will even try to challenge the Lions much in the run game, opting instead to take the same tact the Buccaneers did and simply throw all day on the Lions until there’s a suitable lead built up.

If they do try to run it, it’s likely to be tough going. Snacks Harrison is no joke and the Lions have had success with pretty much unknown guys lining up next to him in John Atkins and Frank Herron, who was signed only this past week.

On the edge you have Devon Kennard and Trey Flowers, both of whom are well known for their edge setting ability. With only one player who can rush the passer in Flowers, but a slew of run defenders, I think the Broncos will struggle to run IF they have success passing. Which they should. If they struggle to pass on this team, I’d be worried, Lions pass rush is the worst I’ve ever seen on any team ever.

4th and 14

Matt Patricia had a lot of success against Dwayne Haskins in November, what do you expect him to do to beat another rookie passer in Drew Lock?

Platte: Patricia has no issues with disguising his coverages to try to confuse a younger passer, but the issues with pass rush have been crushing this team. For instance, the fastest sack the Lions had this past week against the Buccaneers took nearly four seconds, long past when most passes are long gone.

With Jarrad Davis on IR, Patricia lost his pass rushing chess piece, a linebacker he could move around to try to rush from multiple platforms. In his place, the team has tried to utilize rookie 2nd round pick Jahlani Tavai in a more diverse role while bringing in special teams ace Jalen Reeves-Maybin to provide support.

With so many starters on IR or dealing with nagging injuries, Matt Patricia and Paul Pasqualoni will have to get creative to avoid making Drew Lock look like the second coming of Elway.

Extra Point

Can you lay out a scenario for how you could see the Broncos beating the Lions?

Platte: Darrell Bevell is generally adept at creating a solid game script for the first couple of drives, but the past couple of weeks with their 3rd stringer at QB have not been great. If they can come out early and put some points on the board, they can rely on simple ball control to keep the game close.

Nearly every game the Lions have had this season have been decided by a touchdown or less, and those coin toss games can, as they say, go either way. It would require a lot of luck.


Who wins this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Broncos by a lot.
    (356 votes)
  • 51%
    Broncos by a little.
    (431 votes)
  • 0%
    Lions by a lot.
    (6 votes)
  • 4%
    Lions by a little.
    (40 votes)
833 votes total Vote Now