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Broncos vs Lions preview: While the game carries no significance, there’s still some excitement

Yes, it’s the fourth-straight season with no playoffs for the Broncos, but this go-round seems different somehow.

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Games that carry no significance are hard.

I get it, the guys still play in the NFL and they have a job, but they’re also human and competitors. And there is nothing worse than knowing you have no chance.

Reliving this for the fourth-straight season makes it even worse. Yet, this go-round seems different somehow for the Denver Broncos — maybe it’s just me.

On the MHR Radio Podcast (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify), Adam Malnati and I are excited to see what this young Broncos (5-9) team does against the Detroit Lions (3-10-1). To narrow it down even more, rookie quarterback Drew Lock and some of his offensive weapons against the not-very-good Detroit pass defense. That’s about all there is to play for at this point, and it’s actually, kind of, exciting.

Offensive Rankings

Detroit: Thirteenth in overall offense (360.9 yards), 21st in rushing (98.7), eighth in passing (262.2) and 18th in points (21.7).

Denver: Twenty-seventh in overall offense (299.4 yards), 18th in rushing (103.0), 30th in passing (196.4) and 30th in points (17.1).

Defensive Rankings

Detroit: Thirty-first in overall defense (364.8 yards), 18th in rushing (113.2), 31st in passing (288.6) and 26th in points (26.6).

Denver: Thirteenth in overall defense (401.9 yards), 20th in rushing (113.6), tenth in passing (223.9) and tied for tenth in points (20.3).

Here are the MHR staff’s keys to Sunday’s game.

Do your job

Since the Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs for a fourth-straight season, Sunday’s game means nothing for 2019. So take advantage of the last two games to create and develop good habits for 2020; especially for the younger players. Lock can use these last two games to work on timing, foot work, accuracy and comfort with the offense, teammates and coaches. Heck, even the veterans who won’t play in Denver next season could finish strong to give teams a better glimpse of what they have to offer. It’s cliche to say “do your job,” but the Broncos can view this as an opportunity to grow as coaches, players and as a team. — Ian St. Clair

Build rapport

Keep building the rapport between Lock and his playmakers. The running game will or won’t be what it is, and faces a front seven whose best facet is stopping the run. But the Lions secondary is weak and their pass rush is neutered, so let the young gun air it out and focus on solidifying his connection with guys like Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, DaeSean Hamilton, and Tim Patrick. Sunday’s contest against the Lions is an ideal opportunity to learn from the passing game miscues the offense suffered against the Kansas City Chiefs, and it’s all to the good for Lock & Co. to bounce back with a strong showing through the air that can help set up better days for the offense in 2020. — Taylor Kothe

More out of Elijah Wilkinson

One of the things that’s started to catch my eye over the last two weeks is how Garett Bolles is playing pretty well. Enough so that it shouldn’t surprise Broncos Country if left tackle is not a high priority this offseason. With that in mind, and the fact that the Lions don’t have anything resembling Frank Clark, I’d love to see more out of Wilkinson. On multiple passing downs, the Chiefs lined him up on over Denver’s backup right tackle and let him wreck havoc. It’s hard to put too much blame on Wilk for struggling against that kind of mismatch, but he needs to look better this week for the Broncos’ passing attack to have a real shot at consistent success. — Joe Rowles

Moar Phillip Lindsay

Find a way to get Lindsay meaningful touches in space. He has been bottled up behind a bad offensive line in recent weeks. Send him out wide, give him room, let him work. Opening up the offense to Lindsay, and spreading things out should also open things up for Sutton, Fant, and the rest of the pass catchers. Or just sit everyone of consequence to prevent them from any unnecessary injury. — Adam Malnati

Don’t be boring

Meaningful football is officially done so make it interesting. That’s all I ask. — Scotty Payne

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What are your keys to Sunday’s game?