NFL betting: Are the Denver Broncos primed for a breakout?

·Betting analyst
·3-min read

The Denver Broncos have started seven different quarterbacks over the first two seasons of the Vic Fangio regime. Determined to find a reliable answer under center, the Broncos traded for Teddy Bridgewater to compete with 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock. Rumors swirled draft night regarding Aaron Rodgers identifying Denver as an attractive trade destination. The mere potential of an upgrade at the position caused volatility in the NFL futures market. Denver's projected win total climbed to as high as 9. Last season's MVP remained with Green Bay, and Denver's position in the betting market has settled.

The quarterback competition in Denver is worth monitoring. Success at the position could be the difference between a playoff berth and Fangio returning in 2022. After compiling a 12-20 record his first two seasons, it makes sense that GM George Paton would expect results in Year 3.

Paton and Fangio have built a strong defense, intentionally crafted to compete with the high-powered offenses of the AFC. The Broncos ranked 13th overall in defensive DVOA and were #1 in the NFL in pass defensive efficiency in the red zone in 2020. They extended Justin Simmons in the offseason and drafted Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the ninth overall pick.

Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) taking part in drills at an NFL football training camp at team headquarters Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) takes part in drills at training camp Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Englewood, Colorado. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Is efficiency at QB the missing piece?

The Broncos' offense is brimming with potential. Rookie Javonte Williams from North Carolina gives the rushing attack explosiveness. WR Courtland Sutton returns from injury, hoping to eclipse his 2019 season when he put the NFL on notice with 1,112 yards and six TDs. WR Jerry Jeudy is already turning heads in camp with his sights on the Pro Bowl. K.J. Hamler and Tim Patrick give the offense the depth to go four-wide and let versatile tight end Noah Fant utilize his athleticism in the middle of the field. Bridgewater's efficiency at the quarterback spot is the key to unlocking the Broncos' offense.

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The beauty of Bridgewater is that Denver's talent allows him to play within his skillset. The offense will require him to be more of a facilitator, allowing his weapons to exploit soft spots in the defense. He excelled in a similar situation with New Orleans just two years ago. The Saints ranked in the top 10 in offensive DVOA and won all five of his starts. Bridgewater is a sound decision-maker who will limit turnovers. These are attractive traits for a team that has invested heavily in the defensive side of the ball. It’s not crazy to think the Broncos could finally break through.

Bet on the Broncos before Bridgewater wins the job

The Broncos' win total is currently 8.5. Before the Bridgewater trade, Denver's win total was 7.5. Conceding that the draft bolstered the roster, it's still fair to conclude the market is more bullish on the Broncos with Bridgewater at the helm.

If you believe Bridgewater will win the job, the bet to make is over 8.5 wins. He has a history of doing enough at the position to help talented teams win. The odds are currently -140 at BetMGM. Any positive news for the Broncos, including Bridgewater being named the starter, could drive the price even higher or the win total to 9. The schedule sets up nicely for Denver to get off to a fast start with three winnable games against teams with a combined record of 9-39 last season. Historically, 75% of teams that start the season 3-0 make the postseason. I'm not recommending Denver at +130 to make the playoffs, but that's still great data for a franchise looking for a winning season. Or a bettor looking for over 8.5 wins.

Stats provided by Football Outsiders and Sharp Football Stats.

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