Will the search for a first win on the season end for the Denver Broncos or NY Jets when the pair collide in Thursday Night Football? Find out as we weigh in on the matchup and serve up choice NFL picks.
Denver Broncos (0-3-0) vs. New York Jets (0-3-0)
Thursday, October 1, 2020, 8:20 PM ET MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford
Opening Line: Broncos -2 (-110) with BookMaker
Broncos Open As Road Faves
In the battle of the winless, Broncos emerge as the notable road faves. BookMaker, one of the top-rated sports betting sites known for posting early NFL lines, went to press with the Broncos laying 2 points to the Jets. However, since betting opened, the NFL line has jumped out to Broncos -3.
Most recently, the Broncos are coming off a 28-10 loss at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Jets are coming off a 36-7 loss on the road to the Indianapolis Colts.
Darnold and the Jets Down in the Dumps
Sam Darnold exudes zero confidence and the NY Jets are in trouble, as they’re off to a woeful 0-3-0 SU start on the season, underpinned by a 0-3-0 ATS mark that includes a 19-point losing margin on average and a -10.3 differential versus the spread.
The Jets opened their campaign with a 27-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills on the road, failing to cover as the closing +6.5 road underdogs. The Jets then lost to the San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium 31-13 and failed to cover as the closing +7 home underdogs. Last week, the Jets closed as the biggest road underdogs at +12.5 but they failed to cover the hefty spread in another dispiriting loss.
Sam Darnold has struggled something awful, and the Jets offense in turn ranks as the worst in the league, propping up the table with 263.7 yards per game and a paltry 12.3 points per game on average. Darnold is averaging 187.3 passing yards per game and he has 3 TDs, 4 INTs and 6 sacks to show for his efforts thus far. With a 28.8 QBR, he ranks amongst the worst in the league at the quarterback position.
Of course, it’s not just down to the offense. The Jets defense has struggled as well. At the heels of week 3, the Jets defense is allowing 372 yards per game on average and the fifth-most points per game (31.3).
Jets Key Injuries: Jets: Jordan Willis DT (Questionable), Jamison Crowder WR (Questionable), Mekhi Becton T (Questionable), Breshad Perriman WR (Questionable), George Fant T (Questionable), Ashtyn Davis S (Questionable).
Indeed, a potential firing could happen in the coming weeks according to ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen, who reported the Jets organisation was reviewing the head coach’s performance with a view towards two games: last week’s loss to the Colts and the upcoming clash against a severely hobbled Denver Broncos side. The combined outcome of both games will according to Mortensen potentially decide Gase’s future and that of the organisation.
Broncos Undone by Injuries
The Broncos had high hopes at the start of the season but a rash of injuries has pulled the rug from under their feet. The growing injury list reads like a Who’s Who list, beginning with loss of Von Miller at the start of the season and culminating with the blow of losing Drew Lock for the next few weeks.
The Broncos opened the season with a disappointing 16-14 defeat to the Tennessee Titans. The Broncos had their chances to get the win in week 1, but fritted away the opportunity. In week 2, the Broncos succumbed to a 26-21 loss to the Steelers on the road but the biggest loss on the day was starting quarterback Drew Lock (shoulder). Last week, the Broncos were upset at home by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 28-10 loss at Mile High.
Overall, the Broncos are 0-3-0 SU and 2-1-0 ATS for the season, which includes an 8.3 point losing margin on average and a +5.5 point differential versus the spread.
The Broncos defense is allowing 380 yards per game and an average of 23.3 points per game. The offense, which has seen Jeff Driskel play for the last game and a half, ranks fourth worst in the league with 289.3 yards per game and 15 points per game. That said, the Broncos did face some of the league’s stronger teams in the Titans, Steelers and Bucs, respectively – all of which have are off to great starts.
Broncos Key Injuries: Drew Lock QB (Out), Courtland Sutton WR (Out), (Phillip Lindsay RB (Out), Davontae Harris CB (Out), A.J. Bouye CB (Out), Von Miller LB (Out); and Jamieson Crowder WR (Questionable), : Jordan Willis DT (Questionable),), Mekhi Becton T (Questionable), Breshad Perriman WR (Questionable), George Fant T (Questionable), Ashtyn Davis S (Questionable).
Denver Starting QB? Driskel, Rypien or Bortles?
The problem with the Broncos is the quarterback situation is uncertain. Jeff Driskel isn’t up for the job and it remains to be seen whether he gets the start for week 4 or whether coach Vic Fangio goes to Brett Rypien, who was the backup in week 3 and took over for the Broncos late in the game after Vic Fangio benched Driskel.
The Broncos have another alternative. There’s a chance the Broncos might start newly signed Blake Bortles, who was a healthy scratch in week 3. The veteran quarterback signed with Denver ahead of week 3’s clash with Tampa Bay Bucs but wasn’t up to speed on the offense. If Bortles is ready for week 4, it could certainly lift Denver’s prospects.
Put it this way, Bortles was signed for a reason and it would be strange if the Broncos didn’t start Bortles or, even, play him at some stage against the Jets on Thursday.
NFL Betting Verdict
Let’s face it, this is the toughest game to predict of the week between two winless teams that present so much uncertainty. In a way, this game could go either way of the generous point spread – generous in this case because neither team is able to buy a win no matter how they try and confidence in both is overall low.
Update [09/30/20] – Immediately after the Denver Broncos announced Brett Rypien as the chosen starter for the Thursday night clash against the NY Jets, markets responded by dropping the NFL line from Broncos -3 to a PK. The total for this game also ticked down on the NFL odds board, from 40 points to 39.5 and 39 points, depending on the choice sportsbook.
The impact is entirely down to the uncertainty the third-string quarterback presents in the betting: Rypien is an undrafted prospect from Boise State that spent last year on the practice squad. The combination of an unknown quarterback and a team riddled with injuries throws this game up in the air for every betting market – from SU, ATS to Totals.
After this latest twist, it wouldn’t be a surprise if most NFL bettors give this game a pass entirely for NFL picks. However, in the interest of providing NFL picks regardless, backing the Broncos still holds appeal. Only because there appears to be discord within the Jets’ camp between players and Adam Gase that could spill over into Thursday night’s clash, effectively putting the nail in his coffin.
Through the first three weeks of the season, the Jets have been one of the worst teams in the league, with all three losses featuring complete and utter blowouts. They’ve been outscored 37 to 94 for a -57-point differential.
According to players, who have taken to airing out dirty laundry, the reason behind this woeful start to the season has everything to do with subpar team practices that are “slow” and have had players come out “sluggish” in games.
“It all goes back to practice,” said safety Bradley McDougald to SNY last week, via the New York Post. “We need to have complete, full week of just great practices. I don’t think we’ve had that yet.”
Linebacker Avery Williamson agreed with McDougald’s assessment, telling WFAN ““He’s definitely correct that at times, we don’t start fast at practice. We haven’t the last two weeks.”
Needless to say, Adam Gase doesn’t agree with his players’ criticism and he maintains everything is as it should be. “I haven’t necessarily felt that,” said Gase of his players’ comments.
Whichever way one slices it, it’s nevertheless a troubling storyline that reflects poorly on Gase and just adds fuel to head coaches already burning hot seat. Put it this way, if the Jets lose to Rypien and the Broncos on national television, a compelling case for a head coaching change will be made. And that may be the only way forward for a Jets team that appears to have completely lost the plot in 2020.