DENVER – Lions-Broncos Final Thoughts: Wide receiver Kenny Golladay's helping hands; quarterback David Blough's link to history; Random Thoughts on Lions. vs. rookie QBs, running back Kerryon Johnson, kicker Matt Prater's return and sticking with my pick:
Golladay earned his spot as a Pro Bowl alternate this year by being a go-to guy for Lions quarterbacks – all three of them.
In a season when injuries made change a constant with quarterbacks, expect Golladay to do against the Broncos what he has done all season – get open, make tough catches, gain yards and get to the end zone.
Golladay has 56 catches for 1,052 yards and a league-leading 10 TDs. He has compiled those stats with Matthew Stafford starting the first eight games, Jeff Driskel the next three and Blough making his fourth straight start today.
"He's been awesome," Blough said. "Kenny's been great for all the quarterbacks. He's had our back and made big plays all year – big time catches when we needed him.
"I know he's an alternate (for the Pro Bowl), but I hope he gets to be one of those guys who gets to go. He deserves it as much as anybody. It makes it easy going out throwing to that guy."
Here is Golladay's breakdown per quarterback:
Stafford, 8 games: 35 catches, 640 yards, 7 TDs, 18.3 yards per catch.
Driskel, 3 games: 8 catches, 152 yards, 1 TD, 19 yards per catch.
Blough, 3 games: 13 catches, 260 yards, 2 TDs, 20 yards per catch.
Blough, college tie: Blough has nothing but praise for fellow Purdue alum Drew Brees setting the record for career TD passes. Brees threw four in the Saints' win over the Colts last week. Brees has 541 for his career, passing the previous high of 539 by Peyton Manning.
Blough has spoken often of the support he has gotten from Brees.
"Nobody's more deserving," he said. "I'm proud to be from Purdue because of guys like Drew. He's as competitive as anybody – in everything."
Rookie QB Rundown: My primary thought for today's game is that facing Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock in his fourth start should be an advantage for the Lions, even though it hasn't worked out that way in the three previous games against rookie starters this year.
Lock was a second-round pick and the fourth quarterback drafted this year. The Lions have faced the other three, with these results and their overall draft position:
Kyler Murray, Cardinals, first overall: 27-27 tie; Daniel Jones, 6th overall, Lions 31, Giants 26; Dwayne Haskins, 15th overall, Redskins 19, Lions 16.
That, in order, is one tie, one win and one loss.
That, regardless of order, is not good enough.
Carries for Kerryon: If his seasons had been reversed – 641 yards, 5.4 yards per carry this year, 308 and 3.3 last year – I'd say there's no reason to make Johnson active for either of the last two games.
Since the reverse happened, some work is appropriate. It's not punishment, it's development, and Johnson embraces it.
As he said last week, there's some value in finishing the season on the field with his teammates.
Livin' on a Prater: This will be Prater's first game in Denver since 2013, where he played the last of his eight years with the Broncos. He set two records that season – a single-season best of 75 extra points, and a 64-yard field goal, longest in NFL regular-season history.
If it's late in the game, weather conditions are right, and the outcome isn't in doubt win or lose, I'd like to see Prater get a shot from 65 yards or longer.
Sticking with my pick: Same outcome – a win for the Broncos – but a different score. Counting on Johnson playing changes my pick from what was posted Friday. Johnson might extend a drive or two, and the result would be touchdowns instead of a couple field goals. Still a win for the Broncos, but by a slightly closer margin.
Prediction: Broncos 23, Lions 21.