Thursday, October 27, 2011

JZN NFL Predictions vs. Spread: Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos (Week 8, 2011-12)

The Detroit Lions are looking to enter their bye week on a positive note. The Denver Broncos and their fans will get their first glimpse of Tim Tebow in Denver. Don’t let the records deceive you when betting on this game.

The early spread on this game is Lions (-2.5). Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for in pick ’em leagues. All lines from Y! Sports and injury reports from CBS Sports as of October 27, 2011. Always update yourselves with injury lines because they’ll change throughout the week.

Current Personal Picks Record (Straights Only)
Denver Broncos 5-1
Detroit Lions 3-4

Key Injuries
DE Elvis Dumervil, RB Willis McGahee, QB Matthew Stafford, RB Jahvid Best, OT Jason Fox

Keys to the Game
  • The availability of Matthew Stafford
  • Can Champ Bailey contain Matthew Stafford?
  • Tim Tebow’s debut in Denver
  • Can the Broncos score with the Lions?
  • Can the Broncos protect Tim Tebow?
  • Can the Broncos contain the Lions on third down?
  • Will Tim

I’m torn on this game. My initial instinct was that I was going to roll with the Denver Broncos in an upset. The Lions have lost their past two games (both at home). They could’ve lost four of their past five games if it weren’t for 20-point and 24-point comebacks on the road against the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys. Matthew Stafford will probably play injured. This will be Tim Tebow’s first game in front of the Denver home crowd. They even have Champ Bailey to contain Calvin Johnson.

My problem with the Broncos is when I see that they surrendered nine QB hits and six sacks to the Miami Dolphins. That scares me since the Lions have that four-man pass rush. The Lions also have the big-play potential from Brandon Pettigrew and Johnson that can strike at any moment.

Here’s the thing with the Lions: They’re 28% on third-down offense. What that tells me is that they’re too reliant on big plays. These can occur from the offense (Think Jahvid Best or Calvin Johnson) or defense (Think of those pick-6s against the Cowboys). Where would the Lions be without these big plays? 3-4 at best, maybe 2-5.  

And I think that teams are catching on to that.

Now can the Broncos contain the big plays? They couldn’t against the Green Bay Packers in that 49-23 loss. The Broncos have surrendered six plays of 40+ passing yards. Opponents have passed for a QB rating of 104.2 against them, second worst in the league. One should note that Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins have missed multiple games this season.

I’m not that confident in the Broncos’ ability to protect Tebow or prevent that big offensive play. But for the sake of the pick ‘em leagues I’m in, I’ll put my confidence in some fourth-quarter Tebow magic.

This pick is assuming that Matthew Stafford starts.

Final Predictions:
Against the Spread: Denver Broncos (+2.5)
Straight: Denver Broncos 23, Detroit Lions 20

Stat sources:

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