Broncos Week 14 Talking Points: Lions could be ideal opponent to boost passing game – The Denver Post

The no-margin-for-error Broncos (6-6) return home Sunday to face the 1-10-1 Detroit Lions, which broke through with a final-play touchdown to beat Minnesota. Here are three talking points for Week 14:

1. Big-play opportunities

The Broncos’ 10.8-yard average reception is tied for 20th in the NFL and their 31 catches of at least 20 yards are sixth-fewest. But Sunday could provide downfield chances. First, expect the Broncos to emphasize it in order to get receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick going. Second, the Lions are allowing 12.6 yards per catch, second-worst in the league. The Broncos have only eight explosive pass plays (gain of at least 16 yards) in the last three games (2.7 average) after 4.3 such plays in the first nine games. Against Kansas City, the Broncos had four explosive catches, but only one (Jerry Jeudy 36 yards) was not at the end of the half or in garbage time.

2. Lions let down?

The Lions’ victory over Minnesota meant the NFL won’t have a winless team this year. Can a 1-10-1 team have a letdown? Possibly because of the long wait for a victory and the earned celebration that followed. Two years ago, Cincinnati started 0-11, won a game and lost its next three. But last year, the New York Jets started 0-13 and won two consecutive games to play themselves out of the Trevor Lawrence Sweepstakes. “This one was special because we’ve been through a lot already this season,” first-year Lions coach Dan Campbell told reporters Monday. “We got over the hump for a game.” The Lions had lost five one-possession games before defeating the Vikings.

3. Ex-Iowa tight ends meet

In the 2019 draft, Detroit selected Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson eighth overall. Twelve picks later, after a trade down, the Broncos added Noah Fant, Hockenson’s college teammate/fellow tight end. They lead their teams in receptions — Hockenson has 61 for the Lions (583 yards/four touchdowns) and Fant has 49 for the Broncos (424 hours, three touchdowns). The Lions and Broncos are one of only four teams to have tight ends as their leading pass-catchers — Atlanta rookie Kyle Pitts has 49 and the Giants’ Evan Engram has 35. The career numbers for Hockenson and Fant are similar. Hockenson has 160 catches for 1,672 yards and 12 touchdowns and Fant has totals of 151-1,659-nine.

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