Thursday Night Football betting preview. Broncos vs Jets

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Denver Broncos at New York Jets (-2): 40.5 total

I would say that it is pretty rude of the NFL to provide us with Baltimore Ravens vs Kansas City Chiefs one day and three days later they shove the Denver Broncos at New York Jets down our throats. Talk about going from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Regardless of how bad this game might be, there is still a game to be played which means there are bets to be made and money to be won.

The matchup

Let me start by saying neither of these offenses offer much upside or anything to be excited about. The player prop picks here may be limited because of how inefficient the offenses are and how low scoring this game could be.

Denver Broncos offense vs New York Jets defense

Starting with the run game for the Denver Broncos, Melvin Gordon headlines the rush attack, but it isn’t much of a rush attack at all. Per Football Outsiders the Broncos rank 27th in adjusted line yards. However, they do rank 8th in 2nd level yards and 17th in open field yards. Despite the line not blocking very well, the Broncos have gotten their running backs to the 2nd level of the defense (the linebackers around 5-10 yards) a decent amount. The issue here is the Jets have one of the better run defenses in the NFL. They rank 2nd in adjusted line yards allowed, 12th in 2nd level yards allowed and 32nd in open field yards. This tells us the line has been playing very well, but the linebackers and safeties have not been good at preventing big gains. Facing Melvin Gordon as the main running back here though, where the Broncos rank 17th in open field yards there shouldn’t be many big plays expected out of the Broncos rushing attack.

In the pass game, things don’t get much better as the Broncos have said that they are starting Brett Rypien, a 2019 undrafted free agent out of Boise State. However, in Rypien’s senior year at Boise State he threw for 3705 yards and 30 TDs, while completing 67% of his passes. He also holds the Mountain West record for career passing yards at 13,581. He also came in late in the game in week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, completing 8 of 9 passes for 53 yards and an interception.

In going back and watching some of Rypien’s tape from college, there is one thing that really stands out. He has great deep passing accuracy. He consistently hit his receivers in stride when throwing down the field, and is a big reason he set records in college despite not having the best arm strength or size. The Denver Broncos don’t lack weapons at wide receiver either. I don’t expect Rypien to come out and light the world on fire on Thursday night. However, I do think we see a couple deep completions from him since that is his strength, especially early in the game to get the offense going and get some confidence under his belt.

Rypien targeted Jerry Jeudy a couple of times on his lone drive where his only missed throw was an interception in the end zone. Jeudy had actually beat the cornerback and was open, but the safety didn’t bite on Rypien trying to look him off to the other side of the field before trying to hit Jeudy over the middle. Jeudy leads the team in both air yard market share and target share and should be a main target in the passing game regardless of who is playing quarterback. Jeudy has notably played 109 of his 134 snaps in the slot, per PFF. This means he will match up with Brian Poole who has allowed 13 completions on 17 targets for 107 yards and a passer rating of 92 so far through 3 games this season. Jeudy should be able to have a decent game against Poole, but I wouldn’t expect a ceiling outcome here.

The outside receivers for the Broncos are Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler. I expect both of these guys to move around on either side of the formation as they have done the last two weeks and the Jets won’t bother shadowing either of these two guys. The two outside corners for the Jets are Blessuan Austin and Pierre Desir. Austin has allowed 14 catches on 22 targets for 151 yards and a passer rating of 84. On the other side of the field, Desir has allowed 4 catches on 6 targets to go for 56 yards, a TD and a 97 passer rating. No matter how you slice the Jets secondary, each cornerback is attackable. If anyone can make Rypien look good on Thursday night, it would be the Jets.

The Jets have also been eaten alive by opposing tight ends, especially in the red zone. Despite allowing the 9th fewest targets to the tight end position, they have given up the third most TDs. Opposing teams have also completed 13 of 16 passes as a whole to tight ends. 

New York Jets offense vs Denver Broncos defense

Similar to the Denver Broncos’ running game, the Jets aren’t impressive on the ground either. They rank 26th in adjusted line yards, 29th in 2nd level yards and 32nd in open field yards. Part of the reason is because their backfield is led by the ageless one Frank Gore, which in the year 2020 is the most Adam Gase thing ever. On the defensive side of the rushing matchup Denver ranks 17th in adjusted line yards, 4th in 2nd level yards allowed and 23rd in open field yards allowed. The big plays on the ground shouldn’t be anything to worry about here though with Frank Gore leading the way.

Breshad Perriman out and Jamison Crowder questionable, Braxton Berrios and Chris Hogan would be the main targets for Sam Darnold on the offensive side of the ball. If Crowder were to sit, Berrios is getting 29% of the team air yards, 20% of the target share and will line up in the slot. If Crowder plays, you have to assume all systems go and he is healthy enough to have his normal workload. The slot corner for Denver is going to be Essang Bassey 5 of 6 targets to be completed for 58 yards, a TD and a whopping 148 passer rating. Crowder (or Berrios) should be the most productive Jets player in this game.

On the outside Hogan, who has garnered 31% of the air yards and 17% of the target share, will be matched up mainly with Michael Ojemudia. Ojemudia has allowed only 13 of the 25 targets against him to be caught. However, the completions have been productive as he has allowed 196 yards, 2 TDs and a 105 passer rating. Hogan should have a big play or two.

The Broncos have also quietly been beaten around by the tight end position. They have surrendered the 5th most targets, 5th most receptions, 9th most yards and 10th most TDs to the tight end position this year. Chris Herndon who has a 17% target share should be able to have a solid game here. Temper expectations across the board though because the Jets aren’t going to light the scoreboard up.

Pace of play

Surprisingly, both of these teams want to play at a decent pace. The Jets rank 14th in situation neutral seconds per play. This game doesn’t feel like it will be a blowout in either direction, so neutral situation should be a good indicator of overall pace in this one. On the other side of the ball the Broncos rank 19th in seconds per play in neutral situations. This projects to be a middle of the pack paced game, with inefficient defenses as well as inefficient offenses.

Game bets

With a middle of the road pace, and inefficient defenses and offenses, the point total of 40 feels spot on. The Broncos were able to put up 14 and 21 points against the Titans and Steelers who are much better defensive units than the Jets. Even with Rypien at quarterback, I think the Broncos can approach the 20 point mark. On the other side, the Jets have scored 17 and 13 points against good defenses in the Bills and 49ers. My score prediction is Broncos 20 Jets 17. I could also see this game turning into a 20-20 tie in regulation and the under would lose on a field goal in overtime. For that reason, I think taking the over or under on the game total is not a bet to be confident in.

However, I think the value here is in the Broncos moneyline as I think they win straight up. Rypien came out firing on his lone drive in week 3 against the Bucs and some of that confidence could translate over in a short week against the Jets. He also has the better pass catching weapons with Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Noah Fant and Tim Patrick as opposed to the 2nd and 3rd stringers that the Jets are rolling out. The final point I want to make is I don’t know anyone in their right mind who wants to bet their hard earned money on Adam Gase. 

Player prop bets

There aren’t as many player bets that stand out this week as in week’s prior, but there are a couple. 

*IF CROWDER PLAYS* Jamison Crowder OVER 4.5 receptions and OVER 54.5 yards are both my favorite bets in the game. In week 1, Crowder put up a whopping 7-115-1 line against the Bills. With the Jets being 0-3, I don’t think they would throw Crowder out there if he wasn’t ready to play a full workload.

*ONLY IF CROWDER IS RULED OUT* Braxton Berrios OVER 3.5 receptions and OVER 40.5 receiving yards are both great bets this week if Crowder sits. He has cleared these totals in both week 2 and week 3 (with Crowder out) and would get a great matchup in the slot as previously mentioned.

Noah Fant +190 to score a TD is another bet I like. I think if the Broncos get in close, they are going to look to run the ball to take pressure off Rypien. However, play action pass also works great at the goal line. The Jets have allowed 3 TDs already to opposing tight ends this year.

Chris Herndon OVER 3.5 receptions rounds out the player prop bets for me in this ugly game. He has seen 7, 4 and 5 targets in the first 3 games. With Denver allowing opposing tight ends to have success, this presents the first good matchup that Herndon has had this year. He should be a main factor in the pass game and should be able to reel in his targets in this one.

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