Williams could have big day against Lions’ leaky run defense

DETROIT LIONS (1-10-1) at DENVER (6-6)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST, Fox

LINE: Broncos by 8, according to FanDuel SportsBoo k.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Detroit 7-4-1, Denver 6-6.

SERIES RECORD: Broncos lead 8-5.

LAST MEETING: Broncos beat Lions 27-17 on Dec. 22, 2019, at Empower Field at Mile High.

LAST WEEK: Lions beat Vikings 29-27; Broncos lost to Chiefs 22-9.

LIONS OFFENSE: OVERALL (27), RUSH (20), PASS (28), SCORING (29).

LIONS DEFENSE: OVERALL (29), RUSH (28), PASS (21), SCORING (27).

BRONCOS OFFENSE: OVERALL (20), RUSH (12), PASS (18), SCORING (23).

BRONCOS DEFENSE: OVERALL (8), RUSH (10), PASS (10), SCORING (3).

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Lions minus-2; Broncos minus-1.

LIONS PLAYERS TO WATCH: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown. The rookie from USC set career highs with 10 catches for 86 yards and scored his first touchdown last week against Minnesota—a winning 11-yard grab from Jared Goff as time expired. St. Brown has panned out so far as a fourth-round pick with 49 catches for 438 yards. His father, John Brown, is a two-time Mr. Universe winner, and his brother, Equanimeous, is a receiver for the Packers.

BRONCOS PLAYERS TO WATCH: In his first career start last week rookie Javonte Williams became the first Denver rookie to top 100 yards rushing and 75 yards passing in the same game in franchise history. His 178 scrimmage yards accounted for 43.3% of Denver’s offense at Kansas City, where Williams scored the Broncos’ only touchdown.

KEY MATCHUP: Williams vs. Detroit’s run defense, which ranks 28th in the league, allowing 131 yards a game. Williams will be spelled either by Mike Boone, who had 54 yards on five touches last week, or the team’s leading scorer, Melvin Gordon III, who missed last week with shoulder and hip injuries.

KEY INJURIES: Detroit’s dynamic RB, D’Andre Swift, didn’t play last week after aggravating a shoulder injury, and might be another week away from returning. … Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb emerged from his second game back from ankle surgery with a sore shoulder and a sore ankle. … Broncos DE Shelby Harris is dealing with a sore ankle.

SERIES NOTES: The most consequential game in this series came on Oct. 30, 2011, when the Lions pummeled the Broncos 45-10 in Denver with Tim Tebow utterly unable to operate Denver’s conventional offense and keep up with all the NFL’s other aerial shows. So the Denver coaching staff took football back to Saturdays and implemented a read-option running attack like the one Tebow operated at Florida. They would find enough success to feed the Tebomania craze and get Denver to the playoffs before the franchise turned to Peyton Manning the following year.

STATS AND STUFF: Detroit’s win last week snapped a 364-day streak without a victory. … The win against the Vikings marked Dan Campbell’s first win as a head coach since Jan. 2, 2016, when he beat New England in his final game as the Miami Dolphins’ interim head coach. … Goff had 296 yards passing against the Vikings, his highest output since Week 4. … Detroit TE T.J. Hockenson has touchdown receptions in consecutive games for the second time this season. In between those games with scores, he had an eight-game streak without a TD. … LB Charles Harris had a career-high two sacks, giving him a career-best six sacks this season. … Detroit’s defense denied Minnesota three times on 2-point conversions last week. … This is just the third time since 2017 that the Broncos are favored by more than a touchdown. … With one more game with a 70% completion percentage, QB Teddy Bridgewater would join Hall of Famer Peyton Manning as the only Broncos with six such games in a season. … Bridgewater hasn’t thrown an interception at home since Oct. 17 against Las Vegas. He needs 225 yards passing for his third career 3,000-yard season. … WR Jerry Jeudy led the team with a season-high 77 yards receiving last week. … S Justin Simmons seeks his fourth consecutive home game with six or more tackles and a pass breakup. His 35 pass breakups since 2019 are the most in the league by a safety. … Rookie CB Pat Surtain II has three interceptions in his last two games and four overall. He leads all rookies with a dozen pass breakups, including interceptions, and has a pass breakup in eight consecutive games. That’s the longest active streak in the NFL.

FANTASY TIP: Williams ranks third among rookies with 939 scrimmage yards and he figures to play the leading role again Sunday even if Gordon is active.

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