Denver Broncos (2-0) at Buffalo Bills (1-1)
The Broncos pulled off the shocker of the week last week, demolishing the Dallas Cowboys by the final score of 42-17 as home underdogs. The casual public seems to have taken notice as the Broncos are one of the highest bet teams of the week, despite the fact that this line moved from 1.5 in favor of Buffalo on the early line last week to 3.5 in favor of Denver this week. I typically like to go against a significant line movement like that, especially when I can also go against the public in the process, and this game is no exception.
That’s not to say I wasn’t impressed by the Broncos last week. Despite some personnel losses and the loss of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Broncos still have arguably the best defense in the league. They are also noticeably improved on the ground with CJ Anderson and Jamaal Charles healthy and an improved interior offensive line. That makes life easy for Trevor Siemian, who also seems to have upped his game this season. They can definitely win 10 games and make the playoffs as a wild card in the AFC.
However, this line suggests the Broncos would be about 9 or 9.5 point favorites over the Bills in Denver. The Broncos were just 3.5 point favorites over the Chargers week 1 and they failed to cover in a game that almost went to overtime. The Bills are not 6 points worse than the Chargers, even without defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and left tackle Cordy Glenn, who are out with injuries. The Bills had an impressive week 1 victory over the Jets, which was not as close as the final score, and then nearly won in Carolina last week, in a game in which they didn’t allow a touchdown.
New head coach Sean McDermott has improved defenses wherever he’s gone and seems to have done the same in Buffalo. They also have the more trustworthy quarterback in this game, as I trust Tyrod Taylor more than Trevor Siemian. The Broncos are definitely the better team overall, but they’re on the road and I like getting this many points at home with the better quarterback. I have this line calculated at -1 in favor of the Broncos, so we’re getting significant line value at 3.5. About 1 in 4 games are decided by 3 points or fewer, so, even if the Bills don’t win straight up, they have a decent chance to still cover the spread.
One thing that could benefit the Broncos is that this is just their first road game of the season. Teams are 44-33 ATS since 1989 in week 3 when it’s their first road game of the season. However, favorites are just 9-12 ATS over that time period. On top of that, teams tend to struggle after a home upset victory, going 112-140 ATS in that spot since 2008, including 31-44 ATS as favorites. That’s likely because teams tend to be overrated and overconfident after those type of victories. I’m not sure if the Broncos will be overconfident, but they are a little overrated right now, so the Bills are worth a small bet.
Denver Broncos 17 Buffalo Bills 16
Pick against the spread: Buffalo +3.5