Broncos vs. Lions: How They Match Up

Join MHH Analyst Erick Trickel, as he compares the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions position-by-position to see which team has the advantage.

The Denver Broncos have an incredibly talented team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Detroit Lions have talent all-around on their team, but they don’t quite have the talent the Broncos have. Let's take a look at how they match up position-by-position.


With these two teams, you're not sure what you are gonna get at quarterback. @Peyton Manning has taken a step back, but is still capable. That doesn’t mean his performance is guaranteed. The Broncos can either get the Manning that played the Baltimore game and the first 25 minutes of the Chiefs game, or he can be the quarterback that moved the ball effectively.

The same can be said of Matthew Stafford. He has a big arm, which often leads to big plays, but for what team is the question. He tends to throw a lot of passes to the opposing team's defense.

Edge goes to: Push. The simple fact is, you don’t know which version of either QB is going to show up on Sunday.

Running back

Denver has a lot of talent at running back with C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. However, they have not seen success running the ball, although that's not exactly on them. The Lions also have a lot of talent at running back, except they have seen moderate success. Rookie Ameer Abdullah runs for an average of 4.5 yards per attempt and has been their main back. Behind him, Joique Bell hasn’t been the player he's has in the past.

Edge goes to: Lions. Both teams have talent, except the Lions have seen more success.


This is pretty easy. The Broncos have the veteran James Casey at fullback, while the Lions have rookie Michael Burton. Even though the Broncos have a veteran, they rarely use him. The Lions actually utilize Burton. Casey's skill-set is more developed, and Burton is still growing.

Edge goes to: Lions. Even though Casey is a veteran, he has seen just 13 snaps in two games.

Wide Receiver

Both teams have talented receivers, especially at the top of their depth chart. The Broncos have Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, while the Lions have Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. It's pretty evenly matched between the the two groups talent-wise.

Even adding in the third receiver, things stay pretty even. Both teams have a talented corps, with big potential. There is a slight difference between Andre Caldwell and Corey Fuller, but neither have a big impact on the offense.

Edge goes to: Push. Each receiver has a comparable counterpart on the other team.

Tight End

The Lions use Eric Ebron as their main tight end. Brandon Pettigrew does very little outside of blocking, and has only seen 21 total snaps. The Broncos use a lot of Owen Daniels, but Virgil Green sees the field often, as well. Potential is in the Lions favor, while the Broncos have solid players at what they do.

Edge goes to: Denver. Ebron is immensely talented, but has had troubles putting it all together. On the other side, the Broncos tight ends haven’t made huge impacts, but they see a lot of the field and are utilized a lot.

Offensive Line

These units are comparable and not in a good way. Both of them have been a liability to the offense. Ty Sambrailo, Evan Mathis, Matt Paradis, Louis Vasquez and Ryan Harris have been equally as bad as Riley Reiff, Larry Warford, Travis Swanson, Manuel Ramirez and Cornelius Lucas.

Edge goes to: Push. Neither offensive line are a solid unit.

Defensive Line

This is where the difference between the two teams starts to show. The Lions run a 4-3 base defense, which means four players along their defensive line. They used to have a great defensive line, but lost a lot of talent on the free agent market. Ezekiel Ansah leads a talented defensive line, but they also picked up Haloti Ngata, though he hasn’t exactly panned out. Tyrunn Walker, Phillip Hunt, Jason Jones, Darryl Tapp, Jermelle Cudjo, Gabe Wright and Devin Taylor round out their defensive line unit. They have plenty of depth to keep them fresh.

On the Denver side of things, they are lead by Malik Jackson. Sylvester Williams at the nose tackle position has been great for the defense. Rounding out the defensive line is Vance Walker, Darius Kilgo, Antonio Smith and the returning Kenny Anunike. They don’t have the depth that the Lions have, but they are a more talented group.

Edge goes to: Denver. The big hitter for the Lions is Ansah. Ngata is a big name, and he has talent, but his execution has been poor. Denver has a big hitter in Jackson, but the rest have executed better than the Lions have.


Normally, I split the outside linebackers and inside linebackers, except that the scheme differential of a 4-3 and 3-4 makes the roles different from outside and inside linebackers. So, not only is it easier, it ends up being a fairer comparison. Each team has a great linebacker corps. Of course, Denver has their two pass rushers of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, with Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray sitting behind them. On the interior, you’ll find Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan, whose seen his play go largely unnoticed.

The Lions have a good 'mike' linebacker with Stephen Tulloch. Normally, he is paired with DeAndre Levy, but Levy has been injured and missing time. Josh Bynes has stepped in and played some great football in Levy’s stead. Tahir Whitehead has also been playing some great football.

Edge goes to: Denver. The Lions have a strong group of linebackers. However, the Broncos are just overall better. If the Lions had Levy back, it would be closer, but still in Denver’s favor.

Defensive Back

This is easily the easiest position matchup to give an edge to. Denver is loaded with talent from Chris Harris, Jr., Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart and Bradley Roby. The Lions, well, they have talent, but not on that level. Darius Slay and Glover Quin are both very talented, and the best in the Lions defensive back corps. Rashean Mathis and James Ihedigbo are both solid players, just not on par with their counterparts.

Edge goes to: Denver. As I said, it was easy. The Lions have talent, but Denver’s secondary is one of the best in the NFL. The Lions just can’t match it.

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Erick Trickel in an Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @Alaskan_Bronco. And be sure to like MileHighHuddle on Facebook

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