If there was ever a team that needed a short week, it’s the New York Jets. After an embarrassing 36-7 thumping from the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, the winless Jets are glad to be playing the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football. The Broncos vs. Jets odds opened at Jets +2.5, according to DraftKings. They’re now at +1/+1.5 at most NJ online sports betting sites.
The over-under is a modest 40 for two anemic offenses. That Week 4 line could be decided by whether there are turnovers that lead directly to points.
There is also a multitude of props considerations for New Jersey online bettors. Selecting the method of the first score will pay handsomely, whether that’s a touchdown, field goal or safety from either team.
A tie is +5500. Not outlandish. The league just had one, with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals playing to a 23-23 standoff on Sunday.
So here’s the deal: The Jets and Broncos are both 0-3 teams. What happens on Thursday Night Football is truly a must-win for either team.
Broncos vs. Jets: Both teams on the hunt for first win
It’s the law of averages. The Jets, astoundingly, are the only NFL team not to have led for a single down in any game this year.
That’s nearly impossible to do. Fans will cringe, but bettors may see this as something likely to change.
And if you can project the Jets leading at some point in the game, perhaps you can see them winning.
Bettors can peruse several angles for this Broncos vs. Jets game.
How bad is Sam Darnold?
Quarterback Sam Darnold can’t be this bad. How much did he kill the Jets on Sunday?
A Pick 6 on the first series of the game. Another Pick 6 later in the game.
An interception in the end zone, negating points for the Jets. And he took a safety.
By an extreme count, 20 points in that game are on him. Thursday presents a bounce-back opportunity he desperately needs. Darnold needs a statement game.
Quarterback woes for the Broncos, too
Time to step up. This is the same Darnold who led the Jets to a 6-2 second-half performance, the best in the AFC East last year. The Jets finished 7-9 after starting 1-7.
During the time he led that run and struggled this year, the Broncos have been through three — count ’em, three — quarterbacks. Drew Lock was promising, leading Denver to three late-season wins, but he got hurt in a Week 2 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Against the Tampa Bay Bucs last week, backup Jeff Driskel went 17-of-30 for 176 yards with one touchdown and one interception before being benched. Brett Rypien came in for one drive and went 8-of-9 for 53 yards. His last pass was intercepted in the end zone.
The Broncos are floundering in this position. If there was ever a time to exploit a battered opponent, this is it for the Jets.
If Darnold can’t beat the Broncos backups, this bodes ill for his future as the Jets quarterback.
NY Jets are missing Le’Veon Bell
Watch for adjustments. Darnold was burned by throwing passes of medium and deep length. Passes are sailing on him, floating over receivers’ hands and into defenders’ arms.
He’s also not on the same page as his receivers, as some passes he’s throwing are nowhere near them. That’s not all on him. They could be running improper routes or not finishing the pattern.
Part of this confusion stems from the fact that super running back Le’Veon Bell is lost for several weeks, and the Jets had planned to be a run-first offense. Either way, the Jets will have to simplify their offense in the short term: swing passes, and routes of 8 to 12 yards rather than 20 to 25 yards.
Darnold must also be careful about passes thrown to the side of the field where there are few players. When he was intercepted on those passes Sunday, the Colts defenders had nothing but daylight to the end zone.
Important for the future of this Jets team and Jets odds is keeping mistakes small. Darnold was athletic and looked very good at times against the Colts. But the meltdowns were monolithic.
Denver Broncos are having a rough start
The Broncos have been an enigma. They lost in the final seconds to the Tennessee Titans on opening night and covered in a losing effort to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2. If they play the Jets as hard as they did the Steelers, they will win this game.
Last week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drubbed the Broncos in a game that may have revealed more about Tom Brady getting comfortable with Tampa’s offense and a good defensive mindset than Denver being bad offensively.
Nonetheless, Denver is winless, playing on the road and watching a season slip away.
Intangibles for Broncos vs. Jets on Thursday
The Jets need to stop Melvin Gordon, a talented running back for the Broncos.
Denver may lean on him more to help quarterbacks Driskel or Rypien. Broncos coach Vic Fangio did not announce his starter early on, trying to make the Jets prepare for two quarterbacks.
Seriously? This is not Patrick Mahomes or Brady the Jets have to face. The Broncos are 0-3.
The Jets need to make life uncomfortable for whichever quarterback leads Denver. Pressure. Stunts. Roll the dice a little defensively.
Odds boost option for Broncos at Jets
Do you believe either the Jets or Broncos is capable of racking up a big score?
With the line at -2.5, if Denver adds a touchdown, a 10-point win would net that bet +290 at DraftKings Sportsbook. If the Jets manage to win by double digits, the payback is +440.
You may or may not feel that’s possible in this game, but it’s a good betting hunch for any unexpectedly large margin of victory in any NFL game.