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The final four weeks of the 2023 NFL season are already underway. Now is the time for 30 teams to kick up their intensity and their will to strive for the playoffs at the end of the season. With each passing week, teams are falling out of contention for the postseason. As teams and players are going to perform at their highest level, now is a great time to make some bets and pick the best opportunities to win some earnings through DraftKings.
The first NFL matchup played on a Saturday during the season is set as two playoff teams from the AFC and the NFC teams on the field to better their chances for their postseason goals. The Denver Broncos (7-6) go on the road to take on the Detroit Lions (9-4) in a postseason game-like atmosphere. These games have the most value in terms of playoff destination and betting opportunities.
One of the teams to start in the worst way this season was the Denver Broncos. The Broncos started the 2023 NFL season with an overall record of 1-5, with their only win coming against a winless Chicago Bears team on the road 31-28. They were more in contention for the first overall pick of the 2024 NFL draft than the 2023 postseason at that point. The Broncos flipped a switch and started winning, starting with week seven. The Broncos won five consecutive games before losing at the Houston Texans 22-17 in week 13. Denver is coming off a big 24-7 when at the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Detroit Lions were known as the joke of the NFL for many seasons. This season, the Lions look like a serious contender not only for an NFC conference championship but a Super Bowl title. After starting the season with a win over Kansas City on the road and a tough overtime loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks, the Lions went on to win four consecutive games by more than one possession. They took their worst loss in week seven in a 38-6 road loss to the Baltimore Ravens. After another solid three-game win streak, the Lions would slip by losing two of the last three games, with both of the teams being NFC North divisional losses. They're coming off a disappointing 28-13 road loss to the Chicago Bears this past weekend.
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It wasn't long ago this season that the short marriage between the Denver Broncos and veteran quarterback Russell Wilson looked like an absolute disaster. After starting the season with an overall record of 1-5, the offense under Wilson started clicking as the quarterback and head coach Sean Payton started becoming more comfortable with each other. Due to that, the Broncos offense became a lot more efficient and dangerous deep down the field.
The Broncos are still figuring out how to be more efficient on offense, by their passing game has improved significantly. 113 of their 229 first downs this season have come from passes, which is 26 more than the rushing game. They have also thrown for 23 touchdowns out of 330 offensive touchdowns this season.
The defense of the Detroit Lions has a significant weakness in defending against passing due to the injuries in the secondary. Detroit allows an average of 226.6 passing yards per game, which is 19th in the league. They have also allowed 21 of their 37 touchdowns to come from the passing game.
Since week seven the emergence of Wilson back as an official quarterback is not due to his potential great play down the field; it is his turnovers and accuracy. If Wilson can avoid turnovers, he should have multiple touchdowns and potentially upset the Lions.
The move to draft running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick this past April was a controversial decision from the Lions. It was a move that the team felt they needed to make to create a more progressive and dynamic offense. That decision appeared to be correct as Gibbs has been a reliable playmaker in the rushing game and as a pass catcher in the backfield.
Gibbs is second on the team in rushing yards accounted for behind David Montgomery as he was rushed for 692 yards and six touchdowns on 128 carries. He has also caught 45 receptions for 288 yards and is striving to account for his first receiving touchdown in his rookie season. He has been the leading rusher in five games this season including the last two games.
He should have a great chance to create a tremendous impact for the Lions' offense against a Broncos’ defense, while has gotten better is still one of the least efficient offices in the AFC. The Broncos have allowed their defense to rank last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (144).
Another rookie who has been impactful this season for the Detroit Lions offense is tight end Sam LaPorta. In 13 games this season, LaPorta has caught 66 receptions for 702 yards, six touchdowns, and 34 first downs. He is second on the team in all major pass-catching categories except for touchdowns where he is tied with first with star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
LaPorta has been a consistent tight end in the short and medium passing game for the Lions. He is a matchup problem as he is much more shifty than other traditional tight ends, which could be a serious problem for the Broncos’ defense. One of the biggest reasons why the Broncos are among the worst teams in the league statistically is their lack of efficiency in adjusting to matchups on the field.
LaPorta has kind of touched down in two of the last three games this season for Detroit. With Detroit facing a Denver defense that has given up 20 touchdowns through the passing game, LaPorta could have another opportunity for a score and solidify his solid rookie season.
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What: Denver Broncos vs. Detroit Lions
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
When: Saturday, December 16, 8:15 PM
How to Watch: NFL Network, YouTube TV
Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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