Fresh off a convincing win over the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos can improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2018 with a victory Sunday over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But the Broncos (-6 faves at most sportsbooks) will have to forge on without receiver Jerry Jeudy, a 2020 first-round pick who suffered a high-ankle sprain in the 27-13 victory over the Giants. Although an initial diagnosis suggested that Jeudy could miss as much as two months, a report from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network indicates that his absence could be closer to six weeks.
Nevertheless, Denver will travel to Jacksonville to face a Jaguars team that struggled to contain Tyrod Taylor in a 37-21 loss to the Texans. Although the Broncos are favored by 6 at a host of prominent Colorado sports betting operators — BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, WynnBet, Circa Sports, and PointsBet — Denver is pegged as a 5.5-point favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook. The total at FanDuel is 45.5 points.
Astute sports bettors backing the Broncos could take advantage of the extra half-point. A 23-17 Broncos win will result in a cashed ticket at FanDuel instead of a push at the other books.
Receiving props on Sunday
The absence of Jeudy may benefit Courtland Sutton, a 2019 Pro Bowl receiver. While Jeudy finished with a team-high 72 receiving yards on six catches in Week 1, Sutton had only one reception for 14 yards. With Jeudy out, Sutton becomes the top target for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
At BetMGM, bettors can wager on a total on Sutton’s receiving yards of 52.5 (over -115/under -115). A separate prop offers a total on Sutton’s receptions against the Jaguars at 4.5 catches. There is significant juice on the under at -145, in comparison with the over 4.5, which has odds of +110.
Another beneficiary of Jeudy’s absence is Broncos tight end Noah Fant, who tied Jeudy for a team high in receptions against the Giants with six. Fant, like Sutton, has a total of 4.5 in receptions made, but at -135 for the over. Facing an inexperienced Jags defense, Fant could give the Jacksonville linebackers fits on seam routes against a soft zone up the middle.
Other Broncos to watch in the passing game include tight ends Albert Okwugebunam and Tim Patrick, receiver K.J. Hamler, and running back Melvin Gordon III. Okwugebunam, a second-year tight end from Missouri, received praise from coach Vic Fangio for his determined attempt to cross the goal line on a third-quarter touchdown against the Giants. The tight end has odds of -160 to surpass an over of 1.5 receptions against the Jags (-160).
Teddy freezes a defender. Albert Okwuegbunam dives for the pylon for six! #BroncosCountry
— NFL (@NFL) September 12, 2021
BetMGM also expects Gordon to eclipse the over in Sunday’s AFC matchup. A prop on over 1.5 receptions for Gordon has odds of -200 at the sportsbook. Gordon finished with three receptions for 17 yards against the Giants. Last season, Gordon caught at least two passes in nine of 15 games. But with Bridgewater’s proclivity for checking down to running backs, Gordon is a strong bet to increase his catch total in 2021.
Long-term implications of Week 2 result
Besides providing the Broncos with another early-season boost of confidence, a win over the Jags will assuage the concerns of bettors who took Denver with the over in season-long win total futures. The Broncos have odds of +400 at WynnBet to finish with exactly nine wins, along with odds of +500 to end the regular season with 10 wins. Faced with a long rebuilding project, the Jaguars figure to be one of the Broncos’ least challenging opponents on the schedule.
How far can Teddy Bridgewater take the Broncos? pic.twitter.com/cLP1cRM6Pm
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) September 17, 2021
The Broncos also have odds of +120 to make the playoffs at DraftKings, with odds of -150 to not qualify for the postseason. Following the Jags matchup, the Broncos will have consecutive home games against the Jets on Sept. 26 and the Ravens on Oct. 3.
Denver will face the Raiders on Oct. 17 in its first AFC West divisional game of the season. A week later, the Broncos will appear in primetime on Thursday Night Football, with a road game in Cleveland against the Browns.