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Lions Over Broncos Recap And Rest Of Season Outlook

 


Desperately needing a win, the Detroit Lions held ground at home on Saturday night beating the Denver Broncos 42-17. 


This win clinched the Lions their first 10-win season since 2014. The Lions now have 10 wins with three games remaining on the season. 


The Lions rookies led the way for Detroit and looked every bit worth of their high draft picks. Lions rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs continued his breakout with 11 carries for 100 yards on the ground, two catches for eight yards in the air, and two total touchdowns. Detroit’s other soaring rookie, tight end Sam LaPorta, looked like a star with five catches for 56 yards and three touchdowns.


LaPorta becomes the first rookie tight end in NFL history with at least 70 receptions, 750 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns in their rookie season. “It felt like we could open up a lot of things in this offense today,” said LaPorta. “And anything that Ben [Johnson] called was going to work for us.”


The Lions’ offense continued their struggles from last week’s loss in Chicago in the first quarter against Denver but quickly picked up with help from the defense. 


Targeting second-year wide receiver Jameson Williams and getting him his career-high in receptions led to the rejuvenation of the offense. After three straight punts to start the game, the Lions' offense scored touchdowns on five straight drives and six of their last seven to end the game.


Quarterback Jared Goff finished with 278 passing yards, five touchdowns, and zero turnovers. Detroit desperately needed a resurgence game from Goff, as he has had a 7-5 touchdown to interception ratio over the previous five games, with multiple fumbles.



Starting linebacker, Alex Anzalone got back to work in his second game after an injury with 12 total tackles and a tackle for loss. 


Anzalone and rookie linebacker Jack Campbell were big for the Lions LB core with linebacker Derrick Barnes getting injured in the first half, but thankfully returning in the second half. 


The Lions' defense as a whole has been figuring it out the last couple of weeks. After playing well in the first quarter and horribly for the rest of the game in New Orleans, the Lions' defense played well in Chicago last week and well at home vs Denver this week.


Although, on the scoreboard, the Lions' defense seemed to play poorly in Chicago, they were consistently put in bad spots from the offensive struggles, and more often than not they overcame those bad spots. The defense has to continue to perform for Detroit, and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn needs to stay aggressive with his playcalling. 


The Lions' ability to get to Russell Wilson on Saturday night was what helped them control the game and let their offense dominate Denver’s defense.


The Lions are still looking to return star safety Ceedy Duce (formerly known as CJ Gardner-Johnson), who has been out since week two with a chest injury, and standout interior defensive lineman Alim McNeil who was put on IR two weeks ago.



Head Coach Dan Campbell was very pleased after the game on Saturday night and stated the importance of winning after the bad loss in Chicago. “We just needed a win,” said Campbell. “We just had to clean up a couple of things.”


The Lions now sit at 10-4 on the season with games in Minnesota and Dallas coming up and the Vikings coming into Detroit to finish the season. Detroit is now a win away from clinching the NFC North for the first time since 1993.


Playing in Dallas will be a difficult but good opportunity for the Lions to see where they are. The Lions' secondary has had massive struggles this season, partially due to many key injuries, but they have struggled nonetheless. The Cowboys are currently 7-0 at home this season.


With the Lions most likely getting the two or three seed in the NFC, going into Dallas in the second round of the playoffs is a very high possibility.


As for the two remaining Vikings games, the team should and will be favored in both. The Lions currently sit at three-point favorites in Minnesota, via ESPNBet, and with the uncertainty at quarterback for the Vikings, the Lions should be in a good position to clinch the division on Sunday.


Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores has done an amazing job in his first year as Minnesota’s DC and has been leading the league in blitz rate. This aggressive style of defense has given a lot of teams trouble, but I do not expect that to be an issue for the Lions.


The Lions' offensive line was as healthy as they have been all season on Saturday night vs Denver. Decker-Jackson-Ragnow-Glasgow-Sewell is an offensive line group that can do damage for Detroit as they consistently do.


Star right tackle Penei Sewell has looked like the best tackle in the league this season giving up just one sack on 973 offensive snaps, per PFF. Star center Frank Ragnow returned to action on Saturday. Ragnow has only given up seven sacks in his six NFL seasons, and just one sack in the past four years. An offensive line led by these two should be able to handle Flores's aggressive playcalling in weeks 16 and 18.



Should the Lions not lose all three games to end the season, they will likely be sitting at the two or three seed in the NFC come playoff time. Looking at the NFC as it stands right now, the likely opponents for the Lions in the first round would be Minnesota, Green Bay, Los Angeles, and Seattle. 


As we know, the Lions still await both games against Minnesota this season. Regardless, matchup-wise Minnesota is probably the matchup that the Lions would prefer.


The Lions went into Lambeau Field in week 4 on a Thursday night and dominated the Packers on their home field. Green Bay came to Detroit on Thanksgiving day and bullied the Lions on their home field. A rubber match in the playoffs would be very interesting, but not the best matchup for the Lions. 


The Lions have not played the Los Angeles Rams this season, but the opportunity to have long-time Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford return to Detroit for a playoff game has Lions fans salivating. The Rams' offense is top 10 overall, as is Detroit’s, and this would lead to a shootout revenge game for both teams' quarterbacks.


The Seattle Seahawks have been a problem for the Lions in the last few seasons, with the Seahawks winning six in a row dating back to 2015 including a wild card game in 2017. 


Under Dan Campbell, the Lions have struggled mightily to stop this Seattle offense giving up 51, 48, and 37 in three games. Detroit fans would love a rematch, especially after Seattle stole their playoff spot last season, but it is the most concerning matchup for the Lions on paper.


Regardless, the Lions' health, aggressive playcalling on both sides of the ball, and playing their style of football will lead to a quick clinch of the NFC North, a high seed in the NFC, and a path to make a run for Super Bowl LVIII.


Image 1 Credit: AP Photo/David Dermer


Image 2 Credit: Rey Del Rio, 2023 Getty Images


Image 3 Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports


Image 4 Credit: Mike Mulholland/Getty Images


Edited by: Victoria Muzio


 


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Tags: football lions dan campbell jared goff detroit lions lions football sam laporta detroit



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