The position matchups between the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions show that the two teams are evenly matched on offense, but not on defense. On the field, the offense doesn’t face the offense. They face the opposing defense, of course. Let's take a look at what head-to-head matchups will make the biggest difference in the final score.
Peyton Manning vs. Lions Defense/Teryl Austin
The Lions have a good defense and Austin is a smart defensive coordinator, who Denver had interest in for their head coaching vacancy earlier this year. Manning is still one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league, but he's been easier to confuse pre-snap thus far. Austin will have to get his defense disciplined so that they don’t jump at Manning's hard count. He also has to draw up plays and pre-snap movements to throw Manning off.
Edge goes to: Manning. The Lions have had a week to prepare and get everything down. On the other end, Manning has had 10 days to prepare for this game. It will be hard to throw him off. The question is, will his arm allow him to perform?
Matthew Stafford vs. Broncos/Wade Phillips
Stafford has a big arm, but the key to defending him is tight coverage and getting pressure on him. Phillips is a genius at creating pressure, even if he doesn’t have great pass rushers, which certainly isn't the case with the Broncos. Phillips has plenty of options to get pressure on Stafford. All Phillips has to do is get his secondary to match the play up front, keep the receivers covered, and keep Stafford from making the big play that he does quite often.
Edge goes to: Broncos Defense/Phillips. Wade Phillips has all the pieces on defense to not only get pressure, but to keep the receivers locked down.
C.J. Anderson/Ronnie Hillman/Offensive Line vs. Lions Run Defense
With the Broncos running backs, there is a ton of potential, but they have failed to execute with any kind of consistency. The issues are not just with the running backs, but with the blockers up front. In Week 2, the blockers opened up a whopping two holes for Anderson to run through, and both times Anderson busted off 10+-yard runs. That shows the major, and well-known problem with the offensive line. On the opposite side of the field, the Lions have a talented group of run defenders. As is the key with any team, controlling the line of scrimmage is essential to stopping the run. The Lions have the players and ability to do just that.
Edge goes to: Lions Run Defense. The Broncos run game has been beyond bad, and need time to get everything together. They are coming in rested, but need the in-game experience. The Lions have the chemistry and talent to do what they need to do in order to shut down the Broncos run game.
Ameer Abdullah/Joique Bell/Offensive Line vs. Broncos Run Defense
The Lions run game has been seen more success than the Broncos because they are executing better. However, it hasn’t been a huge difference. Similar to Denver, there is a big issue up front for the running backs. The O-line lacks any kind of consistency and can’t get push into the second level, or spring the running backs. This has also occurred when facing run defenses that are not on Denver’s level. Even though it's just two games in, the Broncos are boasting one of the best run defenses in the NFL, and this is without Derek Wolfe, who is their best run defender.
Edge goes to: Denver run defense. The Lions are inconsistent and have yet to face a run defense like Denver’s.
Lions Offensive Line vs. Broncos Pass Rush
The offensive line for the Lions has only allowed 33 total pressures with one sack through two games, which isn’t bad. However, just as they haven’t faced a run defense like Denver’s, they have yet to face a pass rush like the Broncos. Denver has 33 hurries alone, with 7 sacks and 8 hits, for 48 total pressures, which is one of the highest in the NFL. They can generate pressure from multiple spots on defense, which makes them hard to block.
Edge goes to: Denver pass rush.
Broncos Offensive Line vs. Lions pass rush
The state of the Broncos O-line has been covered ad infinitum. They have faced two teams with a good pass rush and the Lions, as a unit, are not as bad, though they have one player in particular to keep an eye out for. Ty Sambrailo, specifically, will have a hard time taking on Ezekiel Ansah. That's player to keep an eye on. Sambrailo has allowed five total pressures, including one sack.
Edge goes to: Lions pass rush. There isn’t an answer to Ansah on the Broncos offensive line. With how poor they have been playing, it will take a big step forward for them to win this battle. Even with over a week off, it's hard to see that step being taken without game experience as a unit.
Lions Receivers vs. Broncos Secondary
The Lions have a talented corps of receivers, led by Calvin Johnson. Golden Tate and Johnson are cream of the crop of receivers. Either one of them can make a big play at any time. Of course, they will be facing tough matchups with the Broncos secondary. Chris Harris, Jr. is coming off a bad game against the Chiefs, but is still one of the best corners in the NFL and will likely find himself matched up with Tate. Aqib Talib, the tall, long, physical corner will be on Johnson. The matchup to watch is Eric Ebron vs. the Broncos coverage linebackers and safeties.
Edge goes to: Broncos secondary. The Lions have talented receivers, but Denver has one of the most talented secondaries in the NFL.
Broncos Receivers vs. Lions Secondary
Similar to their receiver corps, the Lions have talent in their secondary. However, they are not a match for the Broncos receivers.
Edge goes to: Broncos receivers. Big difference in talent and ability. The Lions will have to create pressure and disrupt Manning, otherwise it could be a long day for the defense.
To get instant Broncos notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE!
Be sure to check out the ever-growing benefit package of being a Mile High Huddle Insider! Check it out HERE.