Broncos starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been released from the hospital after a horrifying concussion during Denver’s Sunday loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, but the effects of his injury will keep him out at least for this week’s action.
Bridgewater’s absence comes at a crucial time in Denver’s season, as the Broncos are clinging to slim playoff hopes at 7-7 and are set to meet their AFC West rival, the Raiders, on Sunday in Las Vegas.
The prospect of Drew Lock under center hasn’t made Denver a significant underdog, at least not in the eyes of the bookmakers. Almost all of Colorado’s online sportsbooks have the Raiders favored, from 1.5 points (BetMGM) to just 0.5 (BetRivers, PointsBet, and TwinSpires), while FOX Bet has the Broncos favored by 0.5, Caesars has the game as a pick ‘em, and it was off the board at Betfred as of Wednesday evening.
Lock has plenty of starting experience
It was only last year that Lock was the starter in Denver, and although there is a drop-off in statistical measures (Lock had a 75.4 passer rating last season, while Bridgewater is at 94.9 in 2021), there shouldn’t be as steep of a decline in the Broncos’ offensive capabilities relative to other NFL teams.
With Bridgewater under center, the Broncos rank 19th in the NFL in passing yards per game, but their first matchup against the Raiders did not go so well. Bridgewater threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns, but also three interceptions in a 34-24 Las Vegas victory.
In Lock’s two games against the Raiders last season, he had one of his best games of the campaign and one of his worst. The first matchup, in Vegas, was a disaster. He threw four interceptions and completed just 48.9% of his passes in a lopsided loss. In the season finale, however, he threw two touchdown passes, zero interceptions, and racked up a season-high 339 yards through the air.
Drew Lock is every Raider bettor's best friend pic.twitter.com/Kp8nRH8L2M
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) November 15, 2020
“Now it’s time to put it all together and go show that I am a better quarterback than I was,” Lock told the Denver Post this week.
The Raiders are in a similar boat with a longshot playoff chance, so Sunday’s matchup essentially works out to be an elimination game.
After a 5-2 start, things have fallen apart in Las Vegas, and off-the-field issues haven’t helped. Prior to a narrow victory over the COVID-depleted Browns on Monday, the Raiders lost five of their previous six games.
— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) December 21, 2021
Under has been on fire in Broncos games
The trend that stands out most for Denver in recent weeks is its current under streak. Broncos games have gone under the game total in seven of the last eight contests, and if you want to get an extra point on the total Sunday, head over to BetMGM, which offers 42.5, while most other Colorado online sportsbooks are giving 41.5.
Ja’Marr Chase on the Broncos defense:
"That was one of the best zone teams we played all year. They had great communication… They were in quarters or three buzz clouding one side."
"It was a little bit of everything. They played man maybe twice."
— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) December 20, 2021
The Broncos are tied for second in scoring defense and fourth in total yardage allowed. During the under streak, Denver has allowed an average of just 16.6 points per game, below its average of 17.4 for the season.