LAS VEGAS — The Jets have been soaring as the Broncos have been spiraling, and bettors have duly weighed in with fistfuls, backpacks, and suitcases full of cash on the outcome when they clash Sunday afternoon in Denver.
By Wednesday, a game that had universally opened with the Broncos as 3.5-point favorites had been fully whittled down to pick’em at the South Point.
“It isn’t just speculation or anything else,” said South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews. “There’s a lot of money involved with the Jets.”
When pressed if that represented more professional bettors than recreational, or vice versa — or heaps of both — he added, “I don’t have too many Joes on the Broncos, I can tell you that. It’s all been Jets money, so far.”
A steady flow of five-figure wagers helped contribute to the evaporation of that point spread.
And the dual impetus had been how well the Jets have been faring, with Zach Wilson controlling the offense, and horrible performances by new Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.
Denver (2-4) has scored a mere 91 points in six games. Houston has only 87, but the Texans have played one fewer game than the Broncos. Chicago (2-4) has tallied only 93 points. Those are the NFL’s worst offenses.
The Jets (4-2) own a three-game victory streak and have scored 143 points in the high-scoring AFC East, nipping at 5-1 Buffalo’s heels.
Zach Wilson, the 6-foot-2, second-year pro out of BYU, has been in the pocket for the past three triumphs, but he hasn’t helped or hurt his team.
He has thrown for only one touchdown in the 24-20 victory at Pittsburgh three weeks ago when he had two passes picked off. In beating Miami (40-17 in Jersey) and the Packers (27-10 in Green Bay), he had no TDs and no picks.
The veteran Joe Flacco directed the Jets to a 1-2 start.
“If you find the right quarterback, that can help a coach and a franchise tremendously,” Andrews said. “Maybe they’ve found that in [Zach] Wilson. So far, he looks pretty good.”
Denver’s Russell Wilson has a QB Rating of 83.4, 24th in the league. He has completed 58.6% of his attempts, 32nd among 36 rated quarterbacks.
In points per play, a key efficiency measure, Denver is last at 0.244. In away defense, the Jets (at 0.309) are in the top third of the league.
“Now you’re going against another team that’s really limping into this one,” Andrews said of all that cash backing the Jets against Denver.
“[Russ] Wilson is definitely not 100%. There are a lot of questions about the coach [Nathaniel Hackett]. We saw players arguing on the sidelines. Denver has a whole bunch of problems.”
With the final stinger of an insult coming in its own stadium.
“That great Denver home-field advantage that the Broncos have had, probably since the inception of the AFL, right now is probably non-existent. Money has really driven this down.”
New York Jets (4-2, 4-2 ATS) at Denver Broncos (2-4, 1-5 ATS)
This has attracted the most attention out of the gate this week, as noted in that introduction, and it hasn’t slowed.
Joe Namath’s alma mater is seeking just its second winning season since 2011, and its stars have been a band of sterling young defenders.
However, in their past two games in Denver in 2017 and 2021, the Jets have been zapped by a combined 49-0.
NFL · Sun (10/23) @ 4:05pm ET
|Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado|
To further highlight the immense interest in this game, the Vegas total of 43.5 on Wednesday got driven down to 38.5 within 24 hours.
People have noted that Denver games to Under have come in at a 66.2% clip (47-24) since 2018 (including 5-1 this year), the lone NFL Over or Under winning at least 60% in that span.
Duane Colucci, director of the South Point’s sister Rampart Casino book, owed this big shift to the health concerns of Russell Wilson and potential weather issues. One forecast projected 60 degrees at kickoff with 16-mph winds and a 15% chance of rain, increasing as the game progresses.
Super Bowl 57 futures odds: Jets rising up as Broncos falling
Kansas City Chiefs (4-2, 2-4 ATS) at San Francisco 49ers (3-3, 3-3 ATS)
With most of San Francisco’s defensive starters shelved, the KC edge had moved up from 1.5 points and was threatening to eke past that magic 3 number by mid-week.
Editors note: The move toward the Chiefs was occurring before news of the Niners’ trade for Christian McCaffrey on Thursday night. McCaffrey is expected to suit up for San Francisco on Sunday, and as of Friday morning, KC -2 is the consensus point spread.
NFL · Sun (10/23) @ 4:26pm ET
|Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California|
The Niners losing at Atlanta last week surprised nobody. “The whole world knew they’d lose to the Falcons,” Andrews said. “And they’re in tough again this week against a team coming off the mat that probably feels it needs a win.”
The Chiefs lost at home to Buffalo last week. Still, Andrews paused. “I think three [would be] a little too high.”
Indianapolis Colts (3-2-1, 3-3 ATS) at Tennessee Titans (3-2, 3-2 ATS)
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN, 1 p.m. ET
Titans -2.5, Total 42
This beauty holds the distinction of being the lone NFL game of Week 7 to pit two teams with winning records against each other.
“We’ve had quite a bit of action on that game, both ways,” Andrews said. “We opened it 42.5 and went as high as 43.5 … I think there are a lot of teams skewed to the Under right now, and I think that’ll catch up as the year goes on and offenses get more in tune.”
By Thursday, that had been shaved to 42. Be careful with the Colts, though, since QB Matt Ryan has a league-worst 11 fumbles.
Atlanta Falcons (3-3, 6-0 ATS) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-3, 4-2 ATS)
Paycor Stadium, Cincinnati, OH, 1 p.m. ET
Bengals -6.5, Total 47.5
Average Joes were well aware of the Falcons’ superb spread record, and Atlanta (at home against the Niners) last weekend represented one of the South Point’s biggest losers of the day, according to Andrews.
This total opened at 43.5 when some shops posted their numbers Sunday while others were at 44.5. It got pounded to 47.5 at which Andrews opened Monday.
The spread has been knocked down from 7 as people try to keep the good times rolling with Atlanta, the 11th team in 33 years to cover its first six games.
After opening the season with back-to-back losses, the Bengals have righted themselves behind QB Joe Burrow, who has become sharper by the week in his past four games: nine TD passes, two rushing scores, and one interception.
This is his first game against the Falcons, the fifth-worst away team in allowing home foes to complete 71.2% of their pass attempts.
Detroit Lions (1-4, 3-2 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (4-2, 4-2 ATS)
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX, 1 p.m. ET
Cowboys -7, Total 48.5
Even getting goose-egged last time out and having played one fewer game than its NFC North peers, Detroit’s 140 points lead the division. Its defense, of course, is gross as no other NFL club has allowed 170 points.
So this could be a safe spot for the return of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott from thumb surgery that has kept him out of five consecutive games. He only played the opener, a 19-3 defeat to Tampa Bay in which he went 14-for-29 for 134 yards, no TDs, and a pick.
“We’ll see what happens with Dak coming back,” Andrews said. “I’m not sure if that number’s going to go up or not … it might.”
Also read: Lions vs. Cowboys odds and prediction
Green Bay Packers (3-3, 2-4 ATS) at Washington Commanders (2-4, 2-4 ATS)
FedEx Field, Summerfield, MD, 1 p.m. ET
Packers -5, Total 41.5
Are the woeful Packers favored on the road against anyone in the NFL? I asked Andrews, aren’t they too crappy to be such a favorite?
“Two crappy teams, what can I tell you?” he said with a laugh. “But one has a great quarterback and the other one doesn’t. Washington is not very good at home. I see kind of a cheap number. Still waiting for Green Bay to get it together, and they might.”
For the first time, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has lost consecutive games as a favorite of at least seven points.
Last week, Green Bay had only 278 yards of offense. Last season, it produced fewer than 300 offensive yards twice — in an opening loss at New Orleans and the season-finale divisional playoff defeat at home to San Francisco.
“You see what a key ingredient [Davante Adams] was for the Packers,” Andrews said. “They certainly have not replaced him. You can make the same statement with Tyreek Hill [traded to Miami], but Kansas City had a lot of other parts.
“Now we’re finding out that Green Bay really didn’t have that many parts, besides Adams. That was it.”
Rodgers has had an issue in recent weeks with his right thumb.
“I think there are other problems there that have nothing to do with the thumb,” Andrews said. “That’s my opinion.”
Indeed, Green Bay’s overall pass defense is the worst in the league, the only one allowing opponents to connect on at least 70% (70.86) of their attempts.
The Commanders, behind Carson Wentz, do average an eighth-best 267 passing yards at home, where he has thrown for six TDs and three interceptions. He’s also been sacked a league-high 23 times.
Green Bay averages 91 rushing yards on the road and Washington 72 at home. The Packers have lost their past three regular-season games at this venue by an average score of 30-18.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s next team odds: Don’t sleep on the Packers
Seattle Seahawks (3-3, 3-3 ATS) at Los Angeles Chargers (4-2, 4-2 ATS)
SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA, 4:25 p.m. ET
Chargers -5.5, Total 50
Quick, which QB leads the league in completion percentage? Allen? Mahomes? Hurts? Ryan? Brady? Herbert? Wrong all the way down the line.
It’s Geno Smith, the 6-3, ninth-year pro out of West Virginia who has completed 73.4% of his attempts. Even more impressive, the Seahawks have been the most efficient road offense in the league at 0.547 points per play.
With tailback Rashaad Penny (18th at 346 yards and 2 TDs) out for the season with a broken leg and ankle damage, Kenneth Walker III (243 yards and 2 TDs) takes over in the backfield.
This will challenge the Seattle secondary, as the pass-happy Chargers are led by QB Justin Herbert, who is tops in the league with 257 throws and 170 completions. He averages 286 yards, tied for fifth. And he’s been sacked an NFL-low 2.65% of the time.
Seattle allows 8.6 yards per pass on the road (third-worst in the game), so that’s where this one might get away from the Hawks.
In the past six between these two, the underdog is 6-0 against the number. More than a few might have noted that stat since this opened 7.5 at many shops, 7 at the South Point before being moved to 6.5 “with money” said Andrews.
The total was 53.5 around town, and 52.5 at the South Point before also getting whittled down to 51.5.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4, 2-3-1 ATS) at Miami Dolphins (3-3, 3-3)
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL, 8:20 p.m. ET
Dolphins -7, Total 44.5
This will highlight the return of Tua Tagovailoa, who owns an NFL-best 9.0 yards per pass attempt.
He told reporters he was excited to return to a normal practice regimen during the week for a Sunday game. He thanked neighbors who delivered home-cooked meals and whose children gave him candy, notes, and artwork.
“Super cool,” Tagovailoa said.
Far less cool were his concussion memories of the ambulance and hospital of not knowing what was transpiring. “After I got tackled, I don’t remember much from there. Getting carted off, I don’t remember that.”
Tyreek Hill, who leads the league in receiving yards (701) and reception yards per game (117), will be happy for Tua’s return, too. With Tua, the Dolphins went 3-0 and averaged nearly 24 points; mostly without, 0-3 and 17.
The Fins’ offensive line had better monitor Alex Highsmith, a 6-4, 242-pound outside backer out of Charlotte playing his second full NFL season, who has an NFL-best 6.5 sacks.
Most spots opened with Miami giving six points, which bumped up a point in the first few days of the week. The South Point opened 6.5, nudging it to 7.
“People, I guess, think Miami will do well at home,” Andrews said. “I think seven is probably a ‘take.’ They’ve lost three in a row, so they need a change. Maybe Tua will be a positive change. But I think seven is too high.”
Chicago Bears (2-4, 2-3-1 ATS) at New England Patriots (3-3, 3-2-1 ATS)
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA, 8:15 p.m. ET
Patriots -8, Total 39.5
Another one that’ll likely be difficult to watch. Like Wentz, Justin Fields has been dumped to the turf 23 times.
The resounding theme has been how Pats boss Bill Belichick will mess with coverage schemes and tactics by rushing the pocket with Chicago’s second-year quarterback.
The timing might be uncanny since with one more victory Belichick will pass Bears legend George Halas with 325 victories, No. 2 on the all-time list behind Don Shula (347).
For Belichick, who has coached the Patriots to nine Super Bowls and won six of them, this will be his 484th game as an NFL head coach. It will be the seventh for Bears rookie boss Matt Eberflus.
The Pats have won the past five against Chicago, including eight of the previous nine. In New England, the Bears are a lifetime 0-4, losing by an average score of 32-12.
It might be only a matter of time before some book posts the prop: Which will be the higher number at the end of the season, Fields completions (currently 63) or Rams receiver Cooper Kupp receptions (currently 56)?