Remember when everyone was laughing at Sean Payton, because after blasting his Denver Broncos predecessor (Nathaniel Hackett) he got off to such an awful start, which included a game where they allowed 70 points and over 700 yards to Miami? Seriously, Mike McDaniel had to have enough mercy not to go after a field goal to make it 73, which would have set a regular season recorxd.
Could you go any lower than that?
Not really. But kind of quietly, there was a turnaround especially on the defensive side. Some people started to take notice when the Broncos beat Kansas City 24-9, which meant that Denver had allowed the Chiefs just 28 points in two games.
Last week, a big comeback in the Sunday night game against Minnesota brought them their fourth straight win. So now the Broncos are 5-5 and could easily get right into the thick of the playoff picture. They will try to jump above the .500 mark as they take on the Cleveland Browns.
That is one of three games we'll be looking at in the 4 o'clock window (Eastern time), with the numbers coming from the good people at BetOnline.
Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos (4:05 PM ET)
NFL Betting Odds: Broncos -1 (-115) / Total: 37 points
The Broncos' defense has certainly improved; at no time in the last five games have they allowed 400 yards or more than 22 points. So that's a good thing. But even in victory, last week's game against Minnesota was a sub-300 yard performance from the offense (295, to be exact). in no game this season have they reached 400 yards.
Russell Wilson has quietly put together some nice numbers for himself, including 69% and a nifty 19-4 TD-INT ratio. Javonte Williams should be the backfield anchor, and he runs with a lot of authority.
In case you're not aware of it, Cleveland may have the best defense in the NFL. They rank at or near the top in a lot of meaningful categories, including yards allowed, yards allowed per drive, and first downs allowed. Wilson is only throwing it 6.8 yards behind scrimmage on average. So his scope has been limited.
Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson of UCLA has only started a couple of games. But we see already that he's short-arming it. His Intended Air Yards are 5.8 per attempt, a yard lower than Wilson. His receivers have only a 3.5-yard average after the catch. DTR can run around a lot, but he has turned the ball over four times, making the Browns' offense limited in its own right.
This sounds like the kind of game that won't be pretty, which points difficult to come by.
The Play: UNDER 37 POINTS
Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders (4:25 PM ET)
BetOnline Football Lines: Chiefs -10 (+105) / Total: 43 points
We don't know when the ether is going to wear off in the honeymoon period interim coach Antonio Pierce has with the Raiders. But by the looks of their spirited defensive effort last week against the Miami Dolphins, it hasn't happened yet. With the franchise's most hated rival coming in this week, it's quite possible that Pierce will work his players into a fever pitch.
The Raiders have a ways to go with Aidan McConnell at quarterback, although there is the occasional ability to get the ball to playmakers like Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs.
We don't know how prepared we are to lay double digits with the Chiefs on the road. Kansas City fans must have been quite frustrated to watch Patrick Mahomes misfiring repeatedly in the second half of last week's loss to Philadelphia. And there must have been outright agony to watch Marquez Valdez-Scantling fail to pull in a long pass near the end that could have reversed the result.
If anything does the Chiefs in, it's that the set of receivers Mahomes has just doesn't do him justice.
The Play: RAIDERS +10 (-125)
Los Angeles Rams at Artizona Cardinals (4:05 PM ET)
NFL Pointspread: Rams -2.5 (-120) / Total: 45 points (Over -115, Under -105)
Undoubtedly the Cards have been more competitive since they put Kyler Murray back into the lineup at QB. But this week Rams coach Sean McVay gets some good news with the return of running back Kyren Williams from injured reserve. McVay made no bones about the fact that without Williams, he didn't have the same kind of options on offense. But if you recall McVay's first trip to the Super Bowl with the Rams, he did it by promoting an aggressive play action game enabled by the threat of the run.
Williams is averaging over four and a half yards per attempt, and he had 158 yards previously against Arizona, and the Rams won by 17 points. And we know what the balance can do; with the Rams it's more dangerous, because of the presence of Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp.
The Play: RAMS -2.5 (-120)
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