The Cleveland Browns are favored to win on Thursday night, which gives you an idea of where the Denver Broncos stand right now.
The Browns' injury report was 20 players deep on Monday. Quarterback Baker Mayfield, running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah are out. Receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, tackles Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr., center J.C. Tretter, edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, defensive lineman Malik Jackson, linebackers Malcolm Smith and Mack Wilson are all questionable.
And that team is favored by 2 points over the Broncos at BetMGM.
Denver started 3-0 against a tissue-soft schedule, and since then have lost three in a row. They are beat up too, with some injuries on defense and Teddy Bridgewater questionable as well. The NFL is a brutal sport, especially when the players have to get ready for a Thursday game.
It feels like this is a crucial game for the Broncos and their coach Vic Fangio. Fangio came into this season needing some results to make it a fourth season. A three-game losing streak hasn't been good. A four-game losing streak, with a win over a team that is featuring Case Keenum, D'Ernest Johnson and Donovan Peoples-Jones on offense would be a sign that the season isn't going to get back on track anytime soon.
The Broncos as an underdog is the only realistic play. The Browns' inactive list could be a who's who. If Denver can't win, the next bet to make might be on Fangio getting fired at some point during this season.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
What about prop bets for Thursday?
It's not too easy without knowing who will be playing for the Browns. I'll take the under on D'Ernest Johnson's 59.5 rushing yards, because we don't really know how the running back rotation will go. Even if Johnson gets all the carries, we don't know how effective he'll be.
I'd be comfortable with over 45.5 receiving yards on Tim Patrick, the Broncos' unsung receiver. He has 26 targets over the last four games. Denver trusts him and I like him to have a good game.
What about the MLB playoffs?
If baseball wasn't stubborn, it would have played in the afternoon and avoided going up against the NFL. But, the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers will play Game 5 of the NLCS starting at 8:08 p.m. Eastern, a few minutes before the Broncos and Browns kick off. There was no good option for MLB, but going head-to-head against the NFL will have predictable TV ratings results.
After winning on Wednesday, the Braves are up 3-1 in the series and can win the NL pennant on Thursday. The Dodgers are -140 favorites for Game 5, though they've shown almost nothing this series aside from an eighth inning rally in Game 3. If you really like the Dodgers' chances to rally from the abyss, they're +350 to win the series.
How many NBA games are there?
Unfortunately, after an 11-game slate on Wednesday, there are only three NBA games on Thursday. All of them are intriguing, however.
Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks face Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks, who are 2.5-point favorites. The Milwaukee Bucks, off an impressive opening-night win over the Nets, get the improved Miami Heat. Milwaukee is favored by 2.5. And the Kawhi Leonard-less Los Angeles Clippers face the Golden State Warriors, who beat the Lakers on opening night. Golden State is a 3.5-point favorite.
What's the best bet?
I think Broncos moneyline (+110) is the best option. Again, look at that Browns injury report. It'll look like the type of lineup you see in the final preseason game.