Two winless teams square off on Thursday night football
Count the Denver Broncos among those teams that have been hit early by the injury bug. Their "quarterback of the future," Drew Lock, will be out of action for a couple more games with an injury to his throwing shoulder. And now they are making the move to a rather inexperienced alternative for Thursday night's game against the New York Jets, which BetOnline customers can see starting at 8:20 PM ET on NFL Network.
Lock demonstrated last season that the Broncos might be able to take steps forward with him at the helm, but that has been interrupted. Backup Jeff Driskel produced mixed results at best, along with some embarrassing moments. For example, he has been sacked for a safety in two straight weeks, and suffered five sacks in all last Sunday against Tampa Bay (a 28-10 loss). Brett Rypien was brought off the bench to replace him, and was crisp, completing eight of nine passes.
Head coach Vic Fangio, who's got to be hanging by a thread, said that he would not wait long to name a starter, and of course with almost no turnaround time he had to. Rypien, a Boise State grad who is the nephew of Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien, was cited by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as such: "He executes well, he's quick-minded, he gets the ball out quickly."
Not that he can't take his time a little against a Jets pass rush that exists primarily in theory. Last week they failed to get to Indianapolis' Philip Rivers, and surrendered 29 unanswered points in a 36-7 atrocity that has head coach Adam Gase very much on the hot seat.
In the Thursday night football betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Broncos are the slight favorites on the road:
Denver Broncos -1
New York Jets +1
Over 39.5 points -110
Under 39.5 points -110
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Denver's offensive line is a shambles, so Rypien had better get rid of the ball in a hurry. And we would not expect an aerial circus either. It is critical that Denver be able to establish some kind of running game to keep the Jets honest. That's the deepest part of the roster, with Melvin Gordon and Royce Freeman already on hand and Phillip Lindsay set to return from a turf toe injury that kept him out of last week's game.
And what's interesting is that if there is anything the Jets do at least reasonably well, it's work against the run. They are still second in the league in Adjusted Line Yards, and "stuff" 28% of their opponents' rush plays. But they have been seen giving up big plays. Forget about the 80-run San Francisco's Raheem Mostert had against them on the first play from scrimmage two weeks ago. They also had the Niners in a 3rd-and-31 situation, and Jerick McKinnon promptly rolled for 55 yards. On balance, though, Gregg Williams' stop unit can be nasty up front.
And they should all be in a nasty mood. The Jets have been humiliated three straight times, and Adam Gase no longer has any support with the New York media. Granted, this team has been down a number of offensive weapons, including the estimable Le'Veon Bell. But Gase didn't seem to know how to utilize Bell anyway. Also recently out of action have been receivers Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and Chris Hogan. On this Jets offense, the only guy who scares anyone is rookie tackle Mekhi Becton, who aggravated a shoulder injury and had to leave the game with the Colts. If he can make post, the Jets will have two healthy tackles; that is, IF George Fant can get out of concussion protocol.
The development - or rather lack of same - of QB Sam Darnold is a tremendous concern. The #3 pick of the 2018 draft threw three interceptions last week, two of which were returned for touchdowns. He may be seeing ghosts again. Gase was supposed to be the quarterback "whisperer." Hence, you might not see either guy in the Big Apple (or the suburbs) in 2021.
In what could be an ugly game, we're leaning UNDER.
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