The Detroit Lions hit the road for the last time this season to take on the AFC West Broncos in Denver. Detroit will be looking to snap a losing streak that's reached seven straight and 10 of their last 11 games.
"I think everybody around here needs it," Lions quarterback David Blough said of getting a win in one of these last two weeks. "We want to go out there and give everything we have for the city. We know everybody is supporting us, and we just, in here, want to stick together and do that for one another."
Denver (5-9) is out of the playoff picture in the AFC, but like the Lions, would like to finish the season with a win or two to feel good about themselves heading into the offseason.
Here are five things to watch out for in this NFC vs. AFC matchup:
The fourth quarterback taken in the 2019 draft class was Missouri's Drew Lock to Denver with pick No. 42 in the second round. Lock began the year on IR after injuring his thumb in the preseason. He's played the last three games for the Broncos and has completed 61.1 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and three interceptions for a passer rating of 85.9. He's 2-1 as a starter.
Blough saw 11 quarterbacks get drafted before he had to go the undrafted rookie free agent route. He signed with Cleveland and was traded to Detroit, and has found his way into the starting lineup for the Lions due to injuries to Matthew Stafford and Jeff Driskel. Blough's completing 59 percent of his passes in three starts with three touchdowns and five interceptions for a passer rating of 67.0. He's 0-3 as a starter.
KERRYON JOHNSON RETURN?
Detroit's second-year running back was activated from Reserve/Injured Saturday.
It's been a tough first couple seasons for Johnson, who's shown flashes of great promise, but has also been placed on IR twice now and has played in just 17 games in two seasons.
If he plays today, we could see Detroit's future vision for their backfield with Johnson and Bo Scarbrough. Scarbrough was signed in early November and activated to the 53-man roster later that month. In four starts, he's averaging 4.2 yards per carry with over 300 rushing yards. He missed last week's game against Tampa Bay with sore ribs, and is questionable for today's contest.
"I think we'll be dominant," Scarbrough said of the duo. "Kerryon has his style of running, and I have my style of running, and when you get two guys with different styles, but somewhat similar, I think it's harder for the defense because you don't actually switch out linebackers and safeties.
"You can switch out running backs. And I just think if you just keep pounding the ball and pounding and pounding, then, by the beginning of the fourth quarter, the defense starts to wear out."
LOCKED AT 7.0
The two best pass rushers in today's contest are Denver's Von Miller and Detroit's Trey Flowers.
Both players currently have 7.0 sacks on the season. Miller needs 3.0 sacks over Denver's last three games to keep his five-year double-digit sack streak alive. A sack in his final two games will give Flowers a new career high.
Both Miller and Flowers are impact players on the edge and can be difference makers for their respective defenses. With two rookie quarterbacks at the helm, it will be imperative for both defenses to get after the quarterback and make those young signal callers uncomfortable. Who'll do that with more consistency ... the Miller-led Broncos or Flowers-led Lions?
WR VS. CB MATCHUPS
Today's game will feature two bright young 1,000-yard receivers in Detroit's Kenny Golladay and Denver's Courtland Sutton facing off against two crafty veteran cornerbacks in the Lions' Darius Slay and the Broncos' Chris Harris Jr.
Golladay leads the NFL with 10 touchdown catches on the year and has 1,052 receiving yards. Sutton is having a breakout second season with 63 receptions for 1,019 yards and six scores.
They'll match up against Slay and Harris, who are two of the most consistent veteran cornerbacks in the business. Slay earned his third straight Pro Bowl nod this season. Harris was a Pro Bowler from 2014-16 and again in 2018.
Both Slay and Harris have a reputation of traveling with the opponent's best receiver, and it's likely that Slay will see a lot of Sutton later today and same Harris and Golladay.
When the Lions' schedule was released back in April, and Denver showed up as the Week 16 opponent, it was one of the games we could look at and wonder if cold and snowy conditions would be in the cards late in December in the Mile High city.
Snow was in the forecast last weekend for the Denver area, and they received a couple inches. Like Michigan, it seems the Denver weather in winter is rather unpredictable. The forecast for today's game is 60 degrees and mostly sunny with winds around seven miles per hour. That's pretty good football weather in late December in Denver.