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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey  

Sortable Player Projections | Game Predictions Summary | Projections by Team

* ARI at BAL * DET at DEN * MIN at CAR * SD at KC (mon)
* CIN at SEA IND at TEN * NE at PIT Bye Week
* CLE at SF * JAC at HOU * NO at STL ATL, CHI, GB
* Updated DAL at PHI * MIA at NYG WAS at BUF NYJ, OAK, TB

Prediction: DET 20, DEN 16

Players to Watch: Tim Tebow, Demaryius Thomas, Keiland Williams

Update: Matthew Stafford returned to a full practice on Friday and is expected to play without limitation. Willis McGahee remains out.

The Lions have lost two straight games - both at home and both by a touchdown or less. That drops them two games behind the Packers but they head to Denver with a 3-0 road mark. The Broncos are only 2-4 but the close win in Miami ended a three game losing streak. The problem this week is that trading away their best wideout and losing their best runner to injury is going to really work against the Broncos.

Detroit Lions
Homefield: Ford Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TB 27-20 10 @CHI -
2 KC 48-3 11 CAR -
3 @MIN 26-23 12 GB -
4 @DAL 34-30 13 @NO -
5 CHI 24-13 14 MIN -
6 SF 19-25 15 @OAK -
7 ATL 16-23 16 SD -
8 @DEN - 17 @GB -
9 Bye -      
Lions Report | Statistics | Roster
DETROIT at DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford - - 270,2
RB Maurice Morris 40 10 -
RB Keiland Williams 40 - -
TE Brandon Pettigrew - 50 -
WR Calvin Johnson - 110,1 -
WR Titus Young - 40,1 -
WR Nate Burleson - 20 -
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The fortunes of this week and the season overall now lie on how injured is Matt Stafford and did it happen again? Falling back to Shaun Hill is no big step down really but the Lions already lost Jahvid Best for some undetermined amount of time. The bye next week could not come at a better time to heal up the team and try to replicate the best start the franchise has seen in decades.

QUARTERBACK: HC Jim Schwartz said that Matthew Stafford was "no more than day to day" with his sprained ankle and that the knee injury was a non-issue. Stafford underwent an MRI that came back negative. This will be revisited this week and updates will come as warranted. Stepping down to Shaun Hill won't hurt too badly this week but immediately after the bye the Lions need all hands on deck for the more challenging stretch of the schedule.

Stafford has been throwing for healthy yardage and two scores in all but the last game. He's a lock for a decent showing this week if healthy against a secondary that has allowed 11 touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks already. The three decent quarterbacks to face them all had 300+ yards.

RUNNING BACKS: Jahvid Best has been out with a concussion and while they would not count him out this week, it is all but certain that he sits and then uses the bye to heal up for more important divisional games on the horizon.

Without Best, the Lions went to a committee approach using Maurice Morris (9-50) and Keiland Williams (9-44) against the visiting Falcons. Morris also added two receptions for 13 yards. But on the road, the duo are likely to be less productive and the Broncos have been solid against running backs this season. No runner has scored on them and most only manage marginal yardage. Morris and Williams are splitting up work and neither is a stud running back. Expect marginal yardage from both and no scores.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The Calvin Johnson show continues uninterrupted by any secondary. He already has ten touchdowns and four games over 100 yards. He is on a pace to score right at the record 23 though he only had two touchdowns over the last three matchups (and 110+ yards in each). Aside from the one fluke score by Nate Burleson, Johnson has snagged all of the wide receiver touchdowns. There is nearly no help from Burleson or Titus Young and yet it has not really mattered.

This is where the game is going to turn and even an aging Champ Bailey is going to have a problem with Johnson. The Broncos have allowed eight touchdowns to the position and four wideouts had 100+ yards. Johnson is a must start anyway but there could be a second touchdown to another wideout if Johnson does not double up for the fourth time this season. That could be either player but I'll credit it to Young who has been a bigger factor in road games. It would be his first NFL touchdown so the reliability is low.

TIGHT ENDS: Brandon Pettigrew was held to just four receptions for 31 yards against Atlanta but had scored in the two previous games. He has been a much bigger factor in road matchups where he has never gained less than 57 yards but also has not scored. The Broncos have been outstanding against the position and that includes going against Jermichael Finley (3-28), Jared Cook (2-12) and Jermaine Gresham (2-8). With troubles in the rushing game almost certain, expect some yardage from Pettigrew.

Gaining Fantasy Points DET 7 17 7 9 3 9
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 31 8 29 5 31 23

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 OAK 20-23 10 @KC -
2 CIN 24-22 11 NYJ -
3 @TEN 14-17 12 @SD -
4 @GB 23-49 13 @MIN -
5 SD 24-29 14 CHI -
6 Bye - 15 NE -
7 @MIA 18-15 16 @BUF -
8 DET - 17 KC -
9 @OAK -      
Broncos Report | Statistics | Roster
DENVER vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Tim Tebow 60 - 180,1
RB Lance Ball 30 - -
RB Knowshon Moreno 40 10 -
TE Daniel Fells - 30,1 -
WR Eric Decker - 50 -
WR Eddie Royal - 20 -
WR Demaryius Thomas - 50 -
PK Matt Prater 3 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The first start of the year went pretty badly for Tim Tebow but he saved it in the final few minutes when the Dolphins just crumbled and allowed an improbable overtime win. But the Broncos lost Willis McGahee in the process for a few weeks and now the offense will be even more difficult to predict other than it should be worse. Tebow was straight up horrible in the first 55 minutes of the Miami game before stringing together a scoring drive.

QUARTERBACK: Tim Tebow finally played in a game without a rushing touchdown though he gained 65 yards on eight runs. He completed 13 of 27 passes for 161 yards and two scores. That was 111 yards in the final five minutes of the game and only 60 yards for the first 55 minutes. Tebow had a few passes that were horribly inaccurate including one that missed a wide open Eric Decker running down the middle of the field.

Tebow remains the starter for now and goes against a Lions defense that has been top ten in nearly every category. They have held most opponents to 210 yards or less and all but one only managed one passing touchdown against them. Bank on the one touchdown pass and there will be rushing yardage as well. A second touchdown - if it happens - should be a rushing score by Tebow back at home.

RUNNING BACKS: Willis McGahee fractured the fourth metacarpal in his hand and will be sidelined for 1-4 weeks depending on how it responds. For this week it means that Knowshon Moreno is thrust back into the primary role where he has been wholly ineffective. Lance Ball will also pitch in to some measure but both players combined only account for 32 carries for 108 yards total on the season. The Lions have a solid rushing defense and should hold both runners to minimal yardage and no scores. McGahee has been the engine here and without him the rushing offense is sure to sputter.

Last week against a worse defense, Ball ran for 14 yards on six carries and Moreno posted 28 yards on seven runs.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The passing yardage was sparse in Miami and that meant all wideouts turned in less than 30 yards each. It was encouraging to see Tebow throw 10 targets to Demaryius Thomas even if he only caught three for 27 yards and one touchdown. That relationship is worth tracking and Thomas should be on rosters in most all fantasy leagues just to see what happens with the top wideout drafted last year. Thomas has been out with an Achilles injury and later surgery but looked good in his first game back.

This is a big unknown but it is safe to say that the passing stats should not be that big this week and therefore the receivers will not post much. No wideout here is worthy of a fantasy start though both Eric Decker and Thomas are interesting in a future sense. The one passing score could end up here but more likely with a tight end. The Lions have only allowed three wide receivers to score on them and each was a talented #1 for his team.

TIGHT ENDS: The Broncos had not used this position all year for more than the odd reception or two per week. But Tim Tebow has passed for three touchdowns and two of them went to Daniel Fells along with around 30 yards. Hard to rely on just yet and marginal yardage attached, but Tebow has preferred Fells for the red zone passes.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 13 15 29 22 29 11
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 7 7 10 22 30 3

ARI at BAL DET at DEN MIN at CAR SD at KC (mon)
CIN at SEA IND at TEN NE at PIT Bye Week

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