Broncos vs. Lions NFL Picks: Side With Denver to Send Detroit to 0-3 Start

Jason Lake

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 6:16 PM GMT

The Denver Broncos are 2-0 SU and ATS, but they needed a lot of luck to beat the NFL odds. Too bad the Detroit Lions don't have a healthy No. 1 quarterback.

Jason's 2015 record as of Sept. 23: 11-5 ATS; 0-1 ML (–1.00 units); 4-4 Total

When we last checked in on Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions, Stafford was in need of some medical attention. He was a walking pile of bruises after the first two weeks of the 2015 season. Would Stafford heal quickly enough to suit up for Sunday night's game (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) at Ford Field versus the Denver Broncos? The NFL odds were on hold until those questions could be answered.

We're still waiting for answers as we go to press. It looks more and more likely that Stafford will play on Sunday, but as of Wednesday morning, the Lions still haven't committed to starting either Stafford or his back-up, Dan Orlovksy. Most of our featured sportsbooks have kept this game circled; Detroit is available at +3 (–105) if you shop around.

 

Leo: You Are Facing a Difficult Transition
No point in waiting any longer. The Lions are already 0-2 SU and ATS this year, with Stafford playing the last three halves in considerable discomfort. Last week's performance against the Minnesota Vikings rated No. 16 (+47 Total DYAR) out of the 33 quarterbacks who played, according to the advanced stats at Football Outsiders. That's not likely to improve against Denver's No. 1-ranked pass defense.

It's even less likely to improve if Orlovsky ends up taking over. People remember Orlovsky for the 0-7 record he put up in 2008, when the Lions went 0-16. Then Orlovsky ended up making five starts for that 2011 Indianapolis Colts team – you know, the year in between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. Orlovsky is actually a serviceable back-up QB (14 TD, 12 INT, 76.0 passer rating lifetime), but he's not a league-average starter like Injured Matthew Stafford.

 

Manning's the Worst
Of course, a bet against the Lions means a bet on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, and that's a scary thought. They may be 2-0 SU and ATS, but as you know, Manning hasn't even been replacement-level thus far. In fact, he's the worst quarterback in the league through two weeks, according to his –119 Total DYAR. To be fair, if you switch to DVOA, Manning improves to No. 30 overall, ahead of guys like Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel.

We've been stressing how important the offensive line is when making our NFL picks, and Denver's offensive line is a mess, ranking No. 30 in run blocking and No. 23 in pass protection. Is Manning's right arm toast? Perhaps, but we're pointing our fickle finger at the people protecting him. Things should improve as the season wears on, and Detroit's defensive front has taken a big step back without DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, so maybe we can get away with another small bet on Denver. Yeesh.

NFL Pick: Take the Broncos –3 (–115) at BetOnline

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