Detroit Lions vs. Denver Broncos: 5 Lions You Must Watch at Mile High

James Van Etten@jbvanettenContributor IOctober 28, 2011

Detroit Lions vs. Denver Broncos: 5 Lions You Must Watch at Mile High

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    There are five Lions you must watch this weekend in Denver. It’s a four o’clock kickoff, so get your outdoor honey-do’s done early!

    This weekend, the Lions head to the Chapel of Tebow. With Tim and the disciples rallying in the fourth quarter to beat the hapless Miami Dolphins last week, 18-15, the genuflecting has already begun out in the Rockies.

    How apropos that the Lions face the angelic one on the weekend known for devilishly good fun and women abolishing their inhibitions with a “Sluty Nurse, Librarian or Whatever,” ensembles.

    My personal Halloween 2011 began last weekend with our annual family pilgrimage to the Detroit Zoo for begging at ZOO BOO.

    Our immediate family utilizes the yearly event to gather up all the costumed cousins and stroll through the illuminated zoological compound for a middle-aged “night on the town.”

    Any couple with young children knows trick-or-treating is a green light for libations with fellow parental-batteries as you stroll at a snail’s pace with your costumed-up toddler.

    Armed with Baileys in the coffee and Crown in the flask, we began our quest for Kit-Kats and Twizzlers.

    Hopefully, the following five Lions can haunt Touchdown Jesus, I mean Tebow and the rest of the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

    Here are the Van Etten V… 

Matthew Stafford/Shaun Hill

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    Stafford or Hill? Hill or Stafford? If you care to prognosticate based on the practice reps this week, the smart money will now be on Stafford.

    Yesterday, I had suggested Stafford should sit this one out in favor of a fully healthy second half of the season; apparently the ankle sprain is minor and nothing severe.

    When Stafford characterized the sprain as “feeling funny” my first thought was the dreaded high-ankle sprain. It will still bear watching how Stafford moves in the pocket.

    If the ankle does prove to be an issue, Shaun Hill should be able to step-in and perform admirably. Hill averaged 278 yards and over 62% completion percentage in relief of Stafford last year.

    The Broncos rank in the top half of the NFL in sacks with rookie Von Miller ringing up six sacks thus far, but Elvis Dumervil is nursing an injury that should help Jeff Backus this weekend.

    I normally by-pass the QB position for players to watch, but this week, it warrants the No. 1 watch for me. 

Tony Scheffler

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    You think this guy may have a chip on his shoulder? Two years ago, the Broncos were cleaning house, and part of that process was the dismissal of Tony Scheffler.

    He was sent to the Lions in a three-team trade that included the Philadelphia Eagles and Ernie Sims (do you think Sims has ever succumbed to his girlfriend’s request to make him escort her to a Halloween Party as Bert? Just a random thought).

    Scheffler was one of Jay Cutler’s favorite targets, averaging nearly 50 grabs and 500+ yards per season.

    This will be Scheffler’s first trip back to Mile High in the regular season, and I will bet a couple King Size Snickers that Tony has a tremendous TD dance just waiting to be unleashed on Sunday.

Kyle Vanden Bosch

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    When the proverbial wagons need to be circled, players must be able to look to their captains. I expect Kyle Vanden Bosch to provide the leadership and performance to help end the two-game skid.

    KVB has only 17 tackles this season, but has four sacks and three fumble recoveries. Coming off the edge, Kyle can, and has, made game-changing plays like his strip and recover play against Atlanta.

    With Tebow under center, the defense will have additional time to get to the QB as his progressions should take a split second longer than the reads of Matt Ryan and Tony Romo. This should allow Vanden Bosch and the defensive front to "get home" and create havoc in the Bronco backfield, but they will need to wrap-up, because Tebow will not crumble from a simple shoulder shot.

    The red-eyed defensive captain should have his motor full-bore to avoid going into the bye with three straight loses

Jason Hanson

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    The all-world kicker is in the final few years of his amazing career. The former Washington State Cougar has been in the league so long that fellow alumnus and convicted felon Ryan Leaf was in high-school when Hanson kicked his first NFL field goal.

    Going to Denver with forecast temperatures in the mid-50s, this may be the best chance for Hanson to grab another kicking record—longest field goal.

    Sabastian Janikowski and his Budweiser Belly tied the record of 63 yards earlier this year at Mile High. Wouldn’t it be great if No. 4 got a chance at history this weekend in the Rocky Mountain thin air from 64 yards out?

Stephen Tulloch

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    Stephen Tulloch’s preparation this week should have started and ended with Tim Tebow.

    The middle linebacker is second on the team with 44 tackles and two sacks. With Tebow’s dual threat potential, he will be the most dangerous running back in the backfield.

    "You need to attack him like he's a runner because most quarterbacks, when you see them out on the field, the ones that do choose to run a lot of times are sliding," Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. "It's a little bit different (with Tebow). You have to attack him like he's a running back.” (

    When Tebow does drop back to pass, Tulloch and all the linebackers must stay with their man or in their zone because the play is never dead with Tebow’s scrambling ability.

    "You look at what he's done, not only last week, but over his career, and he's dangerous when he pulls the ball down and runs with it," Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "We, especially up front, have a challenge where we need to collapse the pocket and get guys around him and stay alive in the rush because he can run anywhere on the football field." (

    Expect Tulloch to shadow the Bronco quarterback throughout the game and if the defense plays well, I would expect a strong statistical showing from No. 55.

    Those are my five to watch on Sunday. Enjoy the game and join me on the live blog, should be fun!