Week 15: vs. Denver Broncos (TBD)
The Broncos can only be better offensively in Russell Wilson’s second season, and with Sean Payton in place they have a credible head coach.
The challenge here for the Lions might be an intangible one, rooted on the sideline. Head coach Dan Campbell has been open about his close relationship with Payton, going back to his time as a player when Payton was an assistant coach and continuing through his time on Payton’s staff in New Orleans.
Not that “MC-DC” won’t be solely focused on beating his mentor, or distracted in any way in preparing his team. But players may be extra motivated to beat their head coach’s mentor and friend–to the point of doing things that aren’t smart on the field.
Losing to the Broncos at home would certainly be a pretty surprising setback for the Lions. But there is one like this every year, for nearly every team, and here’s Detroit’s for 2023 at a less than ideal time.
Prediction: Broncos 23, Lions 17 (9-5)
Week 16: at Minnesota Vikings (Christmas Eve, Dec. 24)
It’ll be a Christmas eve NFC North battle, and a very late first game of the season for the Lions against the division rival Vikings.
U.S. Bank Stadium is a very tough road environment. But that really has not phased the Lions the last two seasons, with two narrow losses they truly found a way to give to the Vikings in both cases.
If the Lions can avoid critical mistakes, and Dan Campbell keeps his foot on the gas pedal when/if it’s warranted, a critical win over the Vikings on the road can be had to make it a Merry Christmas in the Motor City.
Prediction: Lions 24, Vikings 20 (10-5)