4 Detroit Lions who need to step up their game in Week 15 vs. Denver Broncos

If the Detroit Lions are going to beat the Denver Broncos on Saturday, these four players will have to step up their level of play.
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
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4. CB Jerry Jacobs

Jacobs is leading the Lions in interceptions this season (three), but there's no concealing how he has mostly struggled overall (57.0 overall PFF grade; 54.5 PFF coverage grade). He's among the worst corners in the league in yards and touchdowns allowed, and he has drawn nine penalties (six pass interference). Last week, Kindle Vildor took a chunk of snaps from him and that is in line to continue (and possibly increase) going forward.

Jacobs often being lined up across from the opponent's best wide receiver has done him no favors. And despite finally losing playing time to anything resembling a credible option to replace him, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said the expected things about him this week.

"Listen, Jerry’s not a guy that we’re throwing away and I don’t want anybody to think that. Listen, there’s still skins on the wall with that player also, alright?" Glenn said. "And he’s done some good things for us..."

Jacobs, an undrafted free agent in 2021, has been a nice find for the Lions. But as a looming restricted free agent, this feels like a turning point for him. Starting Saturday night against the Broncos, even if his role is reduced, it'd be nice to see him make a positive play or two.

3. DE Aidan Hutchinson

"Step up his game" might be an odd phrase to attach to Hutchinson. He's third in the NFL in quarterback pressures (76, per Pro Football Focus), though that has only yielded 6.5 sacks this season amid ample double-teams and plenty of uncalled holds. Overall, even with a lack of sacks, he has has a pretty good season.

But Hutchinson is also coming off a game where he made a couple massive mistakes, and to his credit he has fully owned it while being ready to put it behind him (as he should in both cases). He can certainly do better at finishing around the quarterback sometimes, and the Broncos have allowed Russell Wilson to be sacked 38 times this season (tied for sixth-most in the league).

The Lions have to make Wilson uncomfortable on Saturday night. That will start with Hutchinson, in what should be an advantageous matchup against Broncos' right tackle Mike McGlinchey.