The Denver Broncos were underdogs in every game of the 2020 season, the only team in the league never favored. Things have changed quite a bit already in 2021 as the Broncos were favored in, won and covered each of their first two road games and are the biggest overall favorites on the Caesars Sportsbook Week 3 board at -10.5 for their home opener against the winless New York Jets on Sunday. Denver is expected to be without star pass-rusher Bradley Chubb, while the Jets should see the season debut of top wideout Jamison Crowder.
Chubb, who has 20.5 sacks in 35 career NFL games and was a 2020 Pro Bowler, missed the season opener at the Giants with an ankle injury but gave it a go this past Sunday in a win at the Jaguars. Alas, the former No. 5 overall pick re-aggravated the ankle problem and is not expected to play against the Jets at a minimum – as of now, though, the team is not planning to put Chubb on injured reserve, which could cost him at least three games.
Denver has had an incredibly easy schedule so far and can certainly beat the lousy Jets without Chubb, but the slate gets much tougher starting Week 4 vs. Baltimore. Maybe it's a bad thing this is Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater's home debut in a Denver uniform because he is an unconscious 23-3 ATS in his career on the road. Sunday will be the first time the Broncos have been double-digit favorites in a game since they were -13.5 at home vs. the New York Giants on Oct. 15, 2017, and lost 23-10.
Coach Vic Fangio clearly made the right call naming Bridgewater the starter over Drew Lock as Bridgewater is completing 77.1 percent of his passes for 592 yards, four TDs and no picks. His rating of 120.7 is No. 6 in the NFL. Bridgewater is still a +6000 long shot to win NFL MVP.
The Jets, meanwhile, remain the mess they have been for years but now under first-year coach Robert Saleh and rookie QB Zach Wilson. The former BYU star threw four picks in Sunday's loss to the Patriots and is tied with fellow Jags rookie Trevor Lawrence for the NFL lead with five interceptions. Wilson is the +500 favorite to "win" that title and has risen to +1800 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Gang Green is +400 to finish with the NFL's worst record, behind only Detroit (+300).
Crowder missed Week 1 in COVID protocols and was expected to be active for Week 2 after practicing but was not. It would be an upset if Crowder doesn't play in Denver. He had 59 catches for 699 yards and six scores last year. Not clear whether fellow receiver Denzel Mims, a 2020 second-round draft pick, will play as he was a healthy scratch in Week 2.
The Jets actually won their most recent game as a double-digit underdog, 23-20 at +17 last Dec. 20 at the Los Angeles Rams. New York had been 0-13 entering the game and had lost 15 straight overall as at least a 10-point dog.
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