Welcome to the Thursday Night Football betting breakdown, where each week I’ll provide a detailed betting overview of the upcoming Thursday Night Football game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. I’ll also highlight at least one player- or game-based prop each week that I feel has profit potential.
This Week 4 AFC battle features a pair of winless teams that have been besieged by injuries and that have some question marks surrounding the quarterback position. For the Broncos, the shoulder injury suffered by Drew Lock against the Steelers in Week 2 initially thrust Jeff Driskel into the starting job. However, after Brett Rypien was brought on in relief in Week 3, he performed well enough to earn the Week 4 starting nod.
Things have been so bad for the Jets that coach Adam Gase felt the need to confirm Sam Darnold will not be benched despite the fact New York is averaging an NFL-low 12.3 points per game. To be fair, Darnold has been working with an extremely short-handed pass-catching corps, although he should get Jamison Crowder (hamstring) back from a two-game absence Thursday.
All betting takes will be classified as a “pick”, with considerations such as relevant injuries, past betting trends and recent performances of each team leading up to the game factoring in.
For more detailed information on this week’s matchup – including further game analysis, betting trends breakdown, betting tips specific to TNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Thursday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
TNF betting odds: Broncos at Jets
This game could come well come down to quarterback play more than anything else. Rypien was 8-for-9 for 53 yards in his first taste of NFL regular-season game action Sunday against the Buccaneers. However, that came in garbage time. How he’ll function with a team having had at least a handful of games to prepare for him as the starter remains to be seen.
One factor that could help him as an inexperienced quarterback facing an aggressive Gregg Williams-coached defense is the potential return of RB Phillip Lindsay. The third-year pro has been hobbled by a toe injury and missed the last two games, but he projects to be available for this contest.
The Jets have been much more penetrable against the run early this season compared to last year. New York is surrendering 133.0 rush yards per contest, compared to a miserly 86.9 allowed per game last season. That could play a key role in coach Vic Fangio limiting Rypien’s exposure to mistakes stemming from having to throw the ball an inordinate amount.
A solid group of pass catchers led by rookie Jerry Jeudy and athletic tight end Noah Fant is at Rypien’s disposal when he does drop back. The Jets haven’t been poor versus the pass – they’re yielding a middle-of-the-pack 239.0 passing yards per contest – but have surrendered a 75.5 percent completion rate and five passing TDs. The presence of Courtland Sutton (knee) would have naturally been very helpful to Rypien. In his absence, he’ll have access to Tim Patrick and impressive rookie KJ Hamler in addition to Jeudy, Fant and two above-average pass-catching backs in Lindsay and Melvin Gordon.
The Jets were missing both Breshad Perriman (ankle) and Jamison Crowder (hamstring) in Week 3., while Chris Hogan is dealing with rib and knee injuries. However, Darnold projects to have the latter two available for this game, giving him some experienced firepower to work with. That could be particularly valuable against a Denver defense that’s yielding the fourth-most passing yards per contest (277.7) and that’s allowed 311 and 297 yards to Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady, respectively, the last two weeks.
In the backfield, Le’Veon Bell (toe) remains on injured reserve. That’s left New York with a thrown-together trio of 37-year-old Frank Gore, rookie La’Mical Perine and Kalen Ballage. Gore continues to defy time and has managed to handle a combined 36-carry workload over 63 snaps the last two weeks. With Perine now healthy, he’s available to ease some of the burden.
Games between winless teams can often be unpredictable. However, I do lean toward the home-field Jets having enough to clip the Broncos on a short week during which Denver is also traveling across two time zones.
The Lean: Jets moneyline (-120 or better)
TNF Point Spread
There has been considerable line movement over the course of the week. Denver went from fairly narrow road favorites to 1-to-1.5-point underdogs as of Thursday morning, with the announcement of the Rypien start helping to change their outlook in the eyes of bettors.
The Broncos are 2-1 (66.7 percent) against the spread this season, including 1-0 as a road team and 2-0 in conference games.
The Jets are 0-3 against the spread this season, including 0-1 as a home team and 0-2 in conference games.
Given that I think the Jets have a chance at the home upset and Rypien lacks experience, I’m leaning toward New York having just enough here to squeeze out a victory of two points or more.
The Lean: Jets -1 or better
TNF Over/Under Total
The Over is 1-2 (33.3 percent) in Denver’s games this season, including 1-0 in its away games and 0-1 in its games against AFC opponents
The Over is 2-1 (66.7%) in New York’s games this season, including 1-0 in its home games and 1-1 in its games against AFC opponents.
The total is low enough where it’s possible to exceed it even with just the pedestrian play these two teams have demonstrated. However, with plenty of uncertainty surrounding this game, I classify my pick of the Over as a lean.
The Pick: Over 39.5 points or better
Best TNF Prop Bets
Sam Darnold Over 221.5 passing yards (-110 or better) *if Jamison Crowder starts*
As mentioned earlier, Darnold should have trusted slot receiver Crowder available, which makes a significant difference in his passing yardage expectation. Darnold targeted Crowder 13 times and completed seven passes to him for 115 yards in the opener against the Bills in a 215-yard passing performance overall. Last season, Crowder produced a 72-758 line on 108 targets from Darnold, and his presence should help open things up against a Broncos secondary already susceptible to the pass, as detailed earlier.
ALSO CONSIDER: Noah Fant Over 41.5 receiving yards (-110 or better)