Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos have not looked overly impressive in the young season, but they still have a chance to improve to 3-0 when they visit the winless Detroit Lions on Sunday night. The Broncos remained unbeaten by scoring a pair of touchdowns nine seconds apart in the final minute last week to eke out a stunning 31-24 victory at Kansas City.
“I’m not quite sure I’ve ever been in one quite like that,” Manning said after Bradley Roby returned a fumble for a touchdown with 27 seconds to play in Denver’s great escape against the Chiefs. Playing away from home shouldn’t faze the Broncos, who set a league record with their 13th straight division road win last week. Detroit has dropped its first two games – both on the road – and is coming off a lackluster performance in a 26-16 loss at Minnesota a week ago. “We’ve got to be more consistent,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “We’re going to make sure that we get ourselves headed in the right direction.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Lions as 3.5-point home dogs, but that’s down to a field goal. The total opened at 44.5.
INJURY REPORT: Broncos – DE Kenny Anunike (Questionable, knee), LB Lerentee McCray (Questionable, groin), S Omar Bolden (Questionable, foot), DE Derek Wolfe (Elig Week 5, suspension). Lions – QB Matthew Stafford (Questionable, ribs), DT Caraun Reid (Questionable, ankle), LB DeAndre Levy (Doubtful, hip), TE Brandon Pettigrew (Doubtful, hamstring).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Broncos (-4.0) – Lions (+2.0) + home field (-3.0) = Broncos -3.0
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “The Broncos were outgained by more than a full yard per play against KC on Thursday Night. They?’ve gained less than four yards per play YTD, ranked No. 32 in total offense. The Lions running game has been non-existent thus far. Leading RB rusher Ameer Abdullah had just six carries for nine yards in the loss at Minnesota.” Covers Expert Teddy Covers.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS, 1-1 O/U): After failing to produce an offensive touchdown in the season opener, Manning threw for three scores and 256 yards to join Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks with more than 70,000 passing yards. The biggest concern for Denver is getting a dismal ground game untracked – running back C.J. Anderson has rushed for only 56 yards on 24 carries and the Broncos ranked 29th in the league with an average of 65.0 yards per game. The Broncos’ defense has played superbly in the first two games, registering seven sacks and four interceptions while leading the league with an average of 133.5 passing yards allowed.
ABOUT THE LIONS (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS, 1-1 O/U): Detroit blew a 21-3 lead in a season-opening defeat at San Diego and trailed the entire way against Minnesota as quarterback Matthew Stafford was hit early and often, requiring X-rays on his ribs and chest afterward. Calvin Johnson was invisible in the opener before hauling in 10 catches for 83 yards and a TD last week, but rookie running back Ameer Abdullah was held to nine yards after an impressive 94-yard rushing performance in his NFL debut. Plugging the void left by tackle Ndamukong Suh has been a huge issue for the Lions, who are yielding 147.5 yards on the ground after leading the league (69.3) last season.
* Broncos are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games on fieldturf.
* Lions are 1-5 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Over is 17-3-1 in Broncos last 21 games on fieldturf.
* Under is 13-3 in Lions last 16 games following a ATS loss.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Sixty-four percent of Covers users are backing the visiting Broncos.