Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Rams: 2022 Week 16 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (4-10) at Los Angeles Rams (4-10)

A week ago on the early line, the Rams were favored by 1 point at home in this matchup against the Denver Broncos, but this line has since switched to favor the Broncos by a field goal, a significant swing, given that 1 in 4 games are decided by three points or fewer, with 1 in 6 games decided by exactly a field goal. That’s probably because the Rams lost by 12 to the Packers, while the Broncos beat the Cardinals by 9, but the Cardinals are one of the worst teams in the league right now because of all of their injuries, while the Packers have been significantly better this season at home than on the road, so neither of those results were that surprising, nor should they have caused a line movement like this.

Some of that line movement might be because Russell Wilson will play for the Broncos this week and there may have been some uncertainty about that last week, but it looked pretty clear that Wilson’s absence would be a one-game absence, so I’m not sure if that’s the case, and Wilson hasn’t played well enough this season for his return to trigger this kind of line movement anyway. Also, if this line had stayed where it was a week ago and Wilson didn’t play, the Rams would still be a good value, as the Rams are a noticeably better team than the Broncos when the Broncos have to turn to underwhelming backup Brett Rypien. 

With Wilson back, I have these two teams close to even, with the Broncos possessing a one-point edge in my roster rankings, giving us a calculated line between even and Rams -1, so we’re getting good value with the Rams as home underdogs of a full field goal. The Rams have had an equally disappointing season as the Broncos and, like the Broncos, injuries have been a big part of the reason why, but they at least have a more capable quarterback and left tackle than they did earlier in the season, since adding Baker Mayfield and Ty Nsekhe mid-season. 

If they didn’t have those two players, they wouldn’t be that interesting of a bet, but those two give them competent players at key offensive positions that they didn’t have a few weeks ago and their defense has remained solid all season, so it’s surprising to see them still be home underdogs of a field goal against another one of the worst teams in the league. The Rams are still a bad team, so I don’t want to go crazy with this play, but I think they’re bettable this week, both against the spread and on the money line.

Los Angeles Rams 17 Denver Broncos 16 Upset Pick +145

Pick against the spread: LA Rams +3

Confidence: Medium

Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (4-9) at Denver Broncos (3-10)

The Cardinals lost starting quarterback Kyler Murray for the season with a torn ACL last week, but they were one of the worst teams in the league even before losing him, now sitting at 4-9 with a -71 point differential and a schedule adjusted efficiency that ranks 28th in the NFL. They were 11-6 a year ago, but I thought they were one of the most overrated teams in the league coming into the season, as they needed a +12 turnover margin to get to that record, which is not predictive, and they ranked just 14th in overall efficiency, barely above average. 

They also got a lot worse this off-season, losing starting wide receiver Christian Kirk, top edge defender Chandler Jones, top off ball linebacker Jordan Hicks, top cornerback Robert Alford, and their most efficient running back Chase Edmonds, with their only major addition being former Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown, who cost the Cardinals their first round pick in a trade and who isn’t a significant upgrade on Christian Kirk. Injuries didn’t help matters, as the Cardinals were already without four starting offensive linemen and top cornerback Byron Jones before losing Murray, which obviously hurts this team even more.

The Broncos are missing their starting quarterback as well, with Russell Wilson missing this week due to a concussion, and they are also in the middle of a disappointing season, sitting at 3-10 with a -44 point differential, despite entering the year as a consensus playoff contender. Their defense is still above average, which makes it the only above average unit in this game and, largely as a result of that, the Broncos have the edge in my roster rankings by a couple points, assuming talented edge defender Randy Gregory returns from injury this week as expected. There isn’t quite enough here for the Broncos to be worth betting, but we’re getting some line value with them as only 1.5-point home favorites.

Denver Broncos 20 Arizona Cardinals 17

Pick against the spread: Denver -1.5

Confidence: Low

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos: 2022 Week 14 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) at Denver Broncos (3-9)

The Broncos have been the most disappointing team in the league this season, going just 3-9 and ranking 31st in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 6.5 points below average, meaning they’ve legitimately been as bad as their record suggests, despite entering the year considered to be Super Bowl contenders by some and to at playoff contenders by most. This week, they host the Chiefs in a game that was flexed from primetime because of how disappointing the Broncos have been. 

The Chiefs are 9.5-point favorites, but this line could arguably be a little higher, against a Chiefs team that is still one of the best teams in the league, tied for the best record in the AFC, ranking 2nd in schedule adjusted efficiency, 7.5 points above average and 14 points above the Broncos. My calculated line has the Chiefs favored by 11.5 and, while there’s not enough here for the Chiefs to be worth betting, they seem like the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Kansas City Chiefs 28 Denver Broncos 16

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -9.5

Confidence: Low

Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens: 2022 Week 13 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (3-8) at Baltimore Ravens (7-4)

This line is pretty high at Baltimore -9.5, but this is a matchup between one of the best and one of the worst teams in the league and the better team, the Baltimore Ravens, is at home, so this line isn’t nearly high enough in my opinion. The Ravens have four losses, but in all four losses they have blown two-score leads and they lead the NFL in time spent leading. In terms of point differential, the Ravens rank 7th at +48 and in schedule adjusted efficiency they rank 3rd, about 7.5 points above average. They’ve also won by double digits in four of their seven wins, relevant considering this line is 9.5.

The Broncos, meanwhile, rank dead last in schedule adjusted efficiency, 7 points below average and aren’t much better in my roster rankings, where they rank 16 points behind the Ravens. Their defense has been the strength of this team, with an offense and special teams that both rank dead last in schedule adjusted efficiency, but their defense isn’t quite as good now as it was earlier in the season, before losing Randy Gregory to injury and trading Bradley Chubb to the Dolphins. I don’t expect this game to be close at all, with my calculated line at Baltimore -17.5, so I have no problem laying the 9.5 points. In fact, this is my Pick of the Week this week.

Baltimore Ravens 27 Denver Broncos 10

Pick against the spread: Baltimore -9.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (3-7) at Carolina Panthers (3-8)

These two teams are pretty similar. Both have among the worst offenses in the league, with the Panthers ranking 31st in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency and the Broncos ranking 32nd. The Broncos’ offense is better in my roster rankings, as they have a quarterback in Russell Wilson who at least has a track record of success and could bounce back at some point, even if he’s struggling mightily this year, and the Broncos have also been better on defense this season, ranking 4th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, while the Panthers rank 14th, but the Broncos are not nearly as healthy on either side of the ball as they were earlier in the season and the Panthers have the significant edge on special teams (10th vs. 32nd), so, overall, these two teams are about even in both my roster rankings and in schedule adjusted efficiency, with both teams about 5-6 points below average in both aspects.

Despite the similarities between these two teams, the Broncos are actually favored by 1.5 points on the road here in Carolina, suggesting they’re the significantly better of these two teams. There isn’t enough here for the Panthers to be worth betting against the spread, but they should be the ones favored by a couple points and the money line is a good value at +105 as the Panthers are slightly better than 50/50 to win this game. The Panthers are also the pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Carolina Panthers 15 Denver Broncos 13 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Carolina +1.5

Confidence: Low

Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos: 2022 Week 11 NFL Pick

Las Vegas Raiders (2-7) at Denver Broncos (3-6)

The Broncos are off to a disappointing start, sitting at 3-6, while ranking 26th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about five points below average, suggesting they’ve played just as bad, if not worse than their record suggests. Injuries have been a huge part of the problem, with starting running back Javonte Williams, starting wide receiver Tim Patrick, stud left tackle Garrett Bolles, starting right tackle candidates Tom Compton and Billy Turner, starting center candidates Graham Glasgow and Lloyd Cushenberry, talented edge defenders Randy Gregory and Baron Browning, top linebacker Josey Jewell, top safety Justin Simmons, and starting cornerback Ronald Darby all missing significant time with injury to begin the season. 

The majority of those players remain out, with Simmons and Jewell returning a few weeks back, and Glasgow, Browning, and Compton possibly returning this week, but none of those players are guaranteed to return and the Broncos have some new injury absences as well, with starting linebacker Jonas Griffith, talented slot cornerback K’Waun Williams, and starting wide receiver Jerry Jeudy all going down in the past week. The Broncos also traded away edge defender Bradley Chubb for draft picks at the trade deadline, which is another big loss. With Glasgow, Browning, and Compton questionable and the rest of those players out, I have the Broncos 7.5 points below average in my roster rankings, which would be even worse if those aforementioned players didn’t play.

The Raiders are off to a disappointing 2-7 start as well, but they are healthy and have overall played better, possessing a 2.5-point edge in schedule adjusted efficiency and a 5-point edge in my roster rankings. Despite that, the Raiders are 2.5 point underdogs in Denver, suggesting these two teams are about even. My calculated line has the Raiders favored by 2.5 points, so we’re getting good line value with the Raiders at +2.5. I don’t want to lock in this bet until I know the status of Compton, Glasgow, and Browning and I am holding out hope that we will get a +3 at some point, but the Raiders are the pick for pick ‘em purposes either way, even at +2.5, and the money line is a good value as well at +125, as the Raiders should be the ones at least slightly favored in this matchup.

Update: +3s have started showing up, so I am going to lock in a bet at that number.

Las Vegas Raiders 20 Denver Broncos 17 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Las Vegas +3

Confidence: Medium

Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (3-5) at Tennessee Titans (5-3)

The Titans have two more wins than the Broncos, so it may be surprising to see them only favored by a field goal at home, but the Titans haven’t been blowing teams out in their victories, with all coming by nine points or fewer and an average margin of victory of 5.8 points per game, and the Titans also enter this game with significant injury problems. Their offense at least gets a boost with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and wide receiver Treylon Burks likely to return from multi-game absences this week, but their defense will be without four of their most important players, interior defender Jeffrey Simmons, edge defender Bud Dupree, linebacker Zach Cunningham, and safety Amani Hooker.

The Titans are also in a tough spot, having to play again four days after this on Thursday Night Football, a spot in which favorites cover at just a 42.5% rate all-time. We’re not getting much line value with the Broncos, who return from their bye without top edge defender Bradley Chubb, who was traded away, leaving them without their top-3 players at the position, with Randy Gregory and Baron Browning out. However, the Broncos are still the slightly better pick for pick ‘em purposes, even if a push is the most likely outcome. At -2.5, I would take the Titans, that’s how close this one is for me.

Tennessee Titans 20 Denver Broncos 17

Pick against the spread: Denver +3

Confidence: None

Denver Broncos vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2022 Week 8 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (2-5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5) in London

Normally the rule of thumb in London games is to pick the favorite, as the better team tends to be better suited to play in a weird situation in a London game, covering the spread at a 63.4% rate all-time. In this case, that would be the Jaguars, who are favored by 2.5 points, but we aren’t getting much line value with them, as my calculated line is Jacksonville -2. I am still taking the Jaguars for pick ‘em purposes because they are slight favorites and have familiarity with playing in London more than any franchise, but there’s not nearly enough here for the Jaguars to be worth betting.

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 Denver Broncos 17

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville -2.5

Confidence: Low

New York Jets at Denver Broncos: 2022 Week 7 NFL Pick

New York Jets (4-2) at Denver Broncos (2-4)

A week ago on the early line, the Broncos were 3.5-point favorites, but this line has since shrunk to favor the Broncos by only one point. Normally I like to fade significant week-to-week line movements because they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play, but I don’t think that’s the case here, for a couple reasons. For one, Broncos’ quarterback Russell Wilson suffered a hamstring injury and, while it seems unlikely that he will actually sit out this game, Wilson was already struggling through a shoulder injury and struggling to adapt to his new team, so a hamstring injury won’t help matters. On top of that, if Wilson does sit, the Broncos would have to turn to inexperienced backup Brett Rypien, who is one of the shakier backup quarterbacks in the league. 

The Broncos already rank just 31st in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, due to Wilson’s struggles, as well as significant injuries to key players around him, including left tackle Garret Bolles, running back Javonte Williams, and wide receiver Tim Patrick. The Broncos have played pretty well defensively, ranking 6th in schedule adjusted efficiency, but offensive performance is significantly more predictive week-to-week than defensive performance and, in terms of overall efficiency, which weights offensive performance higher and includes the Broncos 28th ranked special teams, the Broncos rank just 29th, 7 points below average. That lines up with my roster rankings, which have them 6 points below average, even before taking into account the fact that Wilson could sit this game out entirely.

The second reason that I don’t think the line movement is an overreaction is that I don’t think the Jets’ big upset win in Green Bay last week was a fluke. The Jets’ still have an underwhelming offense, ranking 27th in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, but they are still three points better than the Broncos in that metric and they have been better with quarterback Zach Wilson and left tackle Duane Brown back in the lineup. On top of that, their special teams has remained dominant, ranking 3rd in schedule adjusted efficiency, after ranking 2nd a year ago, and their defense is significantly improved this season, ranking 5th in schedule adjusted efficiency after ranking 31st last year, with several key players bouncing back from injuries (Carl Lawson, Quinnen Williams) and other key players being added in the draft (Ahmad Gardner) and free agency this off-season (DJ Reed, Kwon Alexander). 

In terms of overall efficiency, the Jets rank 13th, about a point above average and, while my roster rankings have them slightly lower, they’re still only a half point below average, so their surprising performance thus far this season doesn’t seem like a fluke. They might not be quite as good as their 4-2 record, but I think the public thinks their record is a complete fluke and I think the line movement we’ve seen in this game over the past week is just the oddsmakers starting to catch up to the Jets being decent more than it is an overreaction. With the Broncos struggling as much as they’ve struggled thus far this season, my calculated line actually favors the Jets by a field goal on the road, so we’re getting good line value with the Jets +1. That calculated line would shoot up even further if Wilson was actually unable to play. This isn’t a big play, but I want to lock this line in now in case Wilson ends up being ruled out.

Update: Russell Wilson was ruled out today. I figured the line would move to favor the Jets by a field goal in that case, but I guess the original line factored in a pretty significant chance that Wilson would be out, as the Jets are only favored by one point, which is pretty insignificant line movement, given that games decided by exactly one point aren’t that common (about 6% of the time). Obviously if you locked your bet in at +1, that is great, but I would recommend an additional bet at -1 because this line is way too low. Brett Rypien is one of the most underwhelming backup quarterbacks in the league, has an underwhelming supporting cast, and will have to face a good Jets defense without the benefit of a full week of first team reps, having split them with Wilson all week. The Jets should win this game relatively easily.

New York Jets 20 Denver Broncos 13

Pick against the spread: NY Jets -1

Confidence: High

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers: 2022 Week 6 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (2-3) at Los Angeles Chargers (3-2)

Both of these teams have gotten off to disappointing starts. Both teams made significant additions this off-season and, as a result, were expected to take a step forward and become playoff teams and Super Bowl contenders this season, after numerous consecutive years without a playoff appearance, but, instead, the Chargers rank 27th in schedule adjusted efficiency and the Broncos rank 31st. Both teams are more talented than that suggests on paper and, as a result, both will likely play better going forward, but both teams have also been hampered by injuries in a significant way.

For the Chargers, center Corey Linsley and cornerback JC Jackson returned a few weeks ago, but wide receiver Keenan Allen remains out at least another week, as he has been since getting hurt week 1, while left tackle Rashawn Slater and edge defender Joey Bosa remain out indefinitely. Allen, Slater, and Bosa are among their most important players, so those absences are very significant. For the Broncos, safety Justin Simmons is expected to return this week, but left tackle Garett Bolles, running back Javonte Williams, edge defender Randy Gregory, and inside linebacker Josey Jewell remain out, all significant absences.

The Chargers have the three point edge in my roster rankings, but this line is pretty high at 4.5, especially when you consider the lack of homefield advantage the Chargers have had in recent years since moving to Los Angeles, going 16-25 ATS, as a result of having to constantly play in front of crowds who mostly favor the road team. That especially happens in divisional matchups like this where road fans don’t have far to travel, so I expect this crowd to be filled with Broncos fans. There’s not enough here for the Broncos to be worth betting confidently, but, with minimal homefield advantage factored in for the Chargers, my calculated line is Chargers -3.5, so we’re getting at least some line value with the visitor. This is a no confidence pick, but the Broncos should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Los Angeles Chargers 24 Denver Broncos 20

Pick against the spread: Denver +4.5

Confidence: None