Will the Detroit Lions Put the Denver Broncos NFL Playoff Hopes to Bed in Week 15?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Will the Detroit Lions Put the Denver Broncos NFL Playoff Hopes to Bed in Week 15?

Plenty will be at stake in NFL Week 15 when the Detroit Lions play host to the Denver Broncos at Ford Field in Detroit on Saturday, December 16 at 8:15 p.m. eastern standard time. That should make for an intense game. But who will win? That’s what we’re here to figure out.

Denver clearly has more on the line. Following their Week 13 loss to the Houston Texans, their odds to make the NFL playoffs have taken a sizable hit. That’s the danger of starting out so slow and fighting to get past .500 this late into the season. Your margin for error is nil.

Detroit is under no such pressure. They have a stranglehold on the NFC North division title. But they are exiting a rather easy portion of their schedule having delivered some shaky performances despite going 4-1 over their past five games. 

As it turns out, though, the latest NFL online betting odds for Week 15 don’t seem to worried about the Lions:

Detroit Lions (-6.5)-110-110Denver Broncos (+6.5)

Like usual, please remember to double-check these online NFL betting odds until you actually submit your wager. Our Lions vs. Broncos Week 15 betting odds are accurate entering Tuesday, December 5. That gives the best NFL online betting sites plenty of time to make adjustments leading into opening kick-off on December 16

And since we’re bringing you these NFL Week 15 picks so far in advance, we’ll be looking at the Lions vs. Broncos point spread betting lines alone. The over/under and moneyline odds will drop later. For now, we’ll lay out the case for each team and deliver our final prediction.

Do the Lions deserve to be this heavily favored over the Broncos? Or, as we’ve posited a few times in this space, have online NFL betting sites merely read too much into Denver’s slow start from months ago?

The Case for Betting on the Detroit Lions in Week 15

For much of this season, analytics gurus have considered Detroit one of the most underestimated teams in the NFL. In some ways, they still might be. They rank seventh in Defensive Value Adjusted Over Average (DVOA), a catch-all metric that factors in the strength of opponents, among many other things. That’s an incredibly good spot to be. It actually puts the Lions ahead of teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Whether Detroit belongs in the higher end of playoff discussions nevertheless remains a matter of course. But there’s no denying their success. 

The offense, in particular, has been a show-stopping force for most of the year. The Lions are sixth in points scored per game, a standing they’ve achieved with a balanced attack. Detroit places fourth in both net yards gained per passing and rushing attempt. They also rank around the top 10 in total touchdowns for both categories as well. And they have mustered these standings without turning the ball over at an excessive clip.

What’s more, the defense has shown some improvement. The Lions are still in the bottom 10 of points allowed per game and can be dicey when guarding against the pass. But they have tightened up their prevention against the rush. Their third-down defense has also snuck into the top 12. 

Confining opponents deep into their own territory is an area in which Detroit excels, as well. Rival offenses begin their possessions, on average, at the 27.1-yard mark. That’s the ninth best mark in the NFL. It is essentially the offense’s version of defense. And it will make life difficult on the Broncos, who have not always looked great when forced to run their offense the full length of the field.

Detroit Lions To cover the point spread against the Denver Broncos in Week 15

The Case for Betting on the Denver Broncos in Week 15

Some people are deplaning the Broncos bandwagon after they fell to the Houston Texans in Week 13. Don’t be one of them. We can circle back if they lose to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 14. In the meantime, it’s worth reading into the defensive surge.

Denver has not allowed more than 22 points since Week 5. And during that time, through a span of six games, they’re letting up just 17.3 points per contest—one of the NFL’s absolutely stingiest marks.

This won’t be enough to sell everyone. That’s fair. The Broncos offense can be all over the place. But we’re talking about a 6.5-point spread in this instance. Denver has excelled at keeping most games close even when they lose. Yes, they have that 50-point beatdown by the Miami Dolphins from Week 3 on their resume. But their other five losses have come by an average of 8.8 points. That’s a relatively small margin. Three of them, in fact, have come by five or fewer points.

Worrying about their negative point differential is fair. This will also be the Broncos’ third game on the road in as many weeks. But Denver is not the same team it was 12 weeks ago. They’re a playoff threat because of their defense, not in spite of it.

Denver Broncos To cover the point spread against the Detroit Lions in Week 15

Official Lions vs. Broncos Week 15 Prediction

We came into this game thinking the spread would be more like 2.5 to 3.5 points. Clearly, we were wrong. But it makes for an easier Lions vs. Broncos prediction.

Denver is our choice—not just to cover, but to potentially win. In this space, though, we only care about the spread. And their play in recent weeks certainly warrants the benefit of the doubt.

On top of that, the Lions struggle mightily to defend the pass and have one of the lowest sack rates in the entire NFL. Denver should be able to afford quarterback Russell Wilson plenty of time and space—enough to, perhaps, make this game one of the Broncos’ best offensive performances yet.

OSB Prediction: Denver Broncos, +6.5 (-110)

Denver Broncos To cover the point spread against the Detroit Lions in Week 15

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your 2023 NFL betting:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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