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Broncos can’t afford to underestimate Lions

The Denver Broncos head on the road to the Motor City to face off against the Detroit Lions on Saturday Night. Despite their recent loss to the Lions, the Broncos can’t underestimate the quality of their Week 15 opponent.

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Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Good morning, Broncos Country.

Three years ago, Dan Campbell took over a Detroit Lions franchise that had won just five games the year prior with Matt Patricia. In his first season as head coach, the Lions finished with a 3-13-1 record. It was their worst performance since their 2009 season under Jim Schwartz. Last year they started out terribly and many thought that Campbell would be fired after his second season, but the Lions roared in the second half of the season and wound up with a 9-8 record—their best record in the past half decade.

Now? Campbell has his team playing at an incredibly high level. The team is 9-4, the top dog in the NFC North, and appears to be playoff bound for the first time in seven seasons. Their offense is Top 10 in points scored and yards gained but have certainly had some issues with turnovers. All and all, things appear to be on the up and up in the Motor City.

With that in mind, I’m a bit flabbergasted that they lost to the Chicago Bears last weekend, but anything can happen in the National Football League. Defensively, the Lions rank 25th in points allowed and middle of the pack in yards allowed. In fact, their defense has given up 26 points or more in six games this season.

It’s not that they are necessarily bad against the run or the pass. The reality is that in the aforementioned matchups their offense had turned the ball over 14 times. A lot of those turnovers led to points for the opposition, skewing the defensive points allowed to a high degree. And even for a good team, that many turnovers are too much to overcome.

In their four losses this season, the Lions have been their own worst enemies. Even so, the Broncos can’t bank on them having a bad day to keep their playoff hopes alive. They can’t afford to underestimate a Lions team who has been one of the best in the league all year long. In order for the Broncos to escape the Motor City with a victory, they will need to play a complete game in all three phases.

A victory against Detroit would be a huge boost for Denver’s playoff chances. A loss would set them back tremendously. Either way, winning three of their last four games is essential to lock up a playoff spot. Let’s hope they can take care of business against the Lions and get one step closer to achieving that goal.

As always—thanks for reading. Here is a slate of articles for today’s edition of Horse Tracks.

Broncos News and Tidbits

Detroit Lions 'highly aware' of Denver Broncos' ability to create turnovers
The Broncos have forced 18 turnovers while winning 6 of their past 7 games and are tied for the NFL lead with 24 takeaways.

Lions-Broncos preview: Can Detroit slow down Denver’s momentum?
Here's a look at what's going on with the Denver Broncos heading into Saturday's game at Ford Field. The Broncos are now second in the AFC West, winning six of their last seven games.

Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions: Predictions, picks and odds for NFL Week 15 game
Predictions and picks for the 2023 NFL Week 15 matchup between the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos.

Russell Wilson rises into the Top 10 of the CBS Sports NFL QB Power Rankings
As his rough first season in Denver unfolded last year Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson was listed frequently in the lower half​ of the CBS Sports NFL QB Power Rankings. This season has been a different story.

Don't look now, but the Broncos are back and ready for a playoff push
Things seems to change quickly during this wild NFL season and that certainly applies to the Denver Broncos who have completely dug themselves out of their rough start.

NFL News and Tidbits

NFL to examine eliminating hip-drop tackles this offseason; kickoff play, tush push, fumbles out of end zone also to be reviewed
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and EVP of football operations Troy Vincent on Wednesday expressed a desire to the the hip-drop tackle removed this offseason.

NFL playoff picture: Postseason probabilities entering Week 15 of 2023 season
How much would the Broncos boost their chase for a postseason spot by beating the Lions? Will the loser of Steelers-Colts fall out of the playoff picture completely? A new Next Gen Stats model provides the playoff chances of each team in contention.

São Paulo, Brazil to host regular-season game during 2024 NFL season
The NFL announced on Wednesday that there will be an international game played in São Paulo, Brazil, during the 2024 season.

NFL news roundup: Latest league updates from Wednesday, Dec. 13
NFL.com keeps you up to date with all of the latest league news from around the NFL. Visit NFL.com's transaction hub for a daily breakdown.

'Work in progress': NFL's Roger Goodell, Troy Vincent address officiating complaints - ESPN
The NFL's Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent addressed the rampant complaints about the league's officiating, saying the league is trying to do something about it.