They were the top scoring team in the AFC last year. Can the Denver Broncos beat the football odds this year and outscore everyone else in the NFL? It won't be easy.
On Monday, we told you about the NFL specials over at Bet365, where the Jacksonville Jaguars (+650) are among the teams favored to score the fewest points in the league this year. Now we turn our attention to the special for highest scoring team. At press time, the Green Bay Packers (+450) are the top favorites on the NFL odds board, followed by the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots at +550.
Conveniently enough, the Packers led the league in scoring last year with 486 points, edging out the Broncos by four points. New England (468 points) was fourth overall, and with Tom Brady still suspended for the first four games of the regular season, we can give the Patriots a miss. But what about the Broncos? Do they have what it takes to climb the mountain and outscore everyone?
Running in the Family
Color us Skeptical Orange. You may recall that Denver has made some changes along the offensive line, going with a youth movement that could put QB Peyton Manning in a little more peril than he's used to. We're also thinking that WR Demaryius Thomas won't be leading the league in receptions this year. By the way, Thomas (+750) is the third favorite on the Receiving Yards special at bet365, behind Antonio Brown (+500) and Julio Jones (+650).
It all has to do with Denver's new coach. Gary Kubiak has replaced John Fox under the headset, and while most everyone here at the home office thinks Kubiak is an upgrade, his style is likely to take some points off the board. He tends to run the ball a bit more than most coaches, and Kubiak's Houston Texans never finished higher than third in points scored in the AFC during his head-coaching tenure between 2006 and 2013.
Then again, Kubiak had RB Arian Foster (4.5 yards per carry) for three full seasons. In Denver, he gets a chance to work with Manning, who even in these twilight years remains one of the top passers in the NFL; Manning was third overall last year at 1,412 DYAR passing (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement). The Broncos also got strong running from C.J. Anderson (4.7 yards per carry), but Kubiak has proved flexible enough over the years to go with the best players he's got. That's still Manning in our books.
Which reminds us of the last time Kubiak had an elite quarterback under his wing. No offense to Joe Flacco, but that would be John Elway. Kubiak was Denver's offensive co-ordinator from 1995 through 2005, and Elway was on board in 1997 when the Broncos led the league in scoring with 472 points – and won the Super Bowl. But this is a red herring: Head coach Mike Shanahan was in charge of the Broncos offense, just like Kubiak will be calling the plays this year for his new OC, Rick Dennison. Stupid facts, always getting in the way of a great football pick.