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Rod Beard of The Detroit News breaks down Sunday's Lions-Broncos game at Ford Field (8:30, NBC/97.1)

Broncos to watch

Peyton Manning, QB: He has been criticized for alleged declining skills, but the Lions players said he's as dangerous as ever.

Demaryius Thomas, WR: He had 10 games of at least 100 yards receiving last season, including seven straight — one off Calvin Johnson's NFL record.

DeMarcus Ware, LB: He will be the focus for the Lions offensive line, along with Von Miller. The two are ranked as two of the top pass rushers in the league this year.

Intangibles

Night fever: The night-game atmosphere will help amp up the crowd and the fans will try to make Broncos QB Peyton Manning's famous audible calls at the line more difficult.

Taking charge: It's unclear how healthy Lions QB Matthew Stafford is, but if he can't play the whole game, they'll have to look to Dan Orlovsky.

Connection: Lions coach Jim Caldwell was the quarterbacks coach for Peyton Manning with the Colts and current Lions QB coach Jim Bob Cooter was an offensive assistant with them in 2009-10.

On a roll: The Lions have won two straight and three of the last five meetings against the Broncos.

Put up: It's gut-check time for the Lions, who have had their loyalty to QB Matthew Stafford, their moxie and their season in question.

Facts and figures

*The Lions haven't had an 0-3 start since they lost the first four and went 2-10 in 2010 before winning the last four.

*Broncos QB Peyton Manning surpassed 70,000 passing yards in his career last week against the Chiefs. He's the fastest to reach that mark, needing 35 fewer games than Brett Favre.

*Broncos QB Peyton Manning has thrown 533 career TDs to 48 players. Marvin Harrison (112) leads the way, with Demaryius Thomas fourth with 35.

*Since 2011, WR Demaryius Thomas has 29 games with at least 100 receiving yards, ranking him second behind Calvin Johnson (32).

*With 129 career sacks in his 11 seasons, DeMarcus Ware ranks 13th in NFL history and is second among active players (Jared Allen, 134).

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