Don’t look now, but it’s officially Denver Broncos game week.
After the devastating Von Miller injury news, does it have to be?
The Broncos edge will likely miss the 2020 NFL regular season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. This will no doubt impact the odds for the opener and the season. Keep it here for the latest.
The task for Denver is to put the absence of Miller out of its mind. As tough of a blow as this is, the season must go on.
Though the path to success just got that much tougher.
Broncos’ OLB Von Miller injured a tendon in his ankle on the last play of practice today, and he is expected to need surgery that is likely to end his season, league source tells ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2020
Broncos have to move on without Miller
By now, the Broncos would have had at least four preseason games and the kinks ironed out before the regular-season opener. At least that’s the hope with preseason games and training camp.
But this is 2020, so nothing is normal. Just look at Colorado’s weather as the most recent example: 90 degrees one day, snow and ice the next.
To keep the abnormal 2020 theme alive, the Week 1 opener against the Tennessee Titans is the Broncos’ first game of the season.
To top it off, there won’t be any fans in attendance at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium. It will take some getting used to not hearing any Rocky Mountain Thunder from the fans during a Broncos home game.
One of the major benefits of playing at Mile High is how crazy loud it gets when opposing offenses are on the field. When Broncos Country gets going, it’s hard for players to think straight, let alone talk in the huddle.
Now that advantage is gone.
Monday’s game is the first time fans get to bet on the Broncos since the Colorado sports betting market launched on May 1. In fact, when the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans open the 2020 NFL season, it’s the first time for fans to experience NFL betting.
As Broncos head coach Vic Fangio told the media on Tuesday (before Miller’s injury):
“Obviously, we all wish we had more time, had some preseason games, but sometimes you have to be a short-order cook. That’s what we have to be here — maybe do a little Chef Boyardee instead of the homemade stuff. We’ll be ready to go. I feel good about what we’ll put out there. Hopefully, it passes.”
Broncos vs. Titans odds
When you add in the Miller injury, that helps explain why some of the CO online sports betting apps have the Titans favored for the second half of the Monday Night Football doubleheader. Before the Miller injury, it was a PK or +1 points. Now, the consensus for the sportsbooks is Denver at +3.
You may have wondered how CO sportsbooks will reconcile home-field advantage in the age of COVID-19 and no fans in the stands.
A typical home-field advantage in the NFL is 3 points.
As Johnny Avello, DraftKings sportsbook director of operations, said to PlayColorado:
“Last year’s home-field advantage for the Broncos ended at 2.5 points and that can change during the course of the season. Since there will be no fans in the stands for the Broncos home opener versus the Titans, home-field advantage is approximately 1.5 points.”
A spokesperson for FanDuel, added:
“Home-field advantage has lessened over the years, but one of the teams that still has a home-field advantage is the Broncos because of the altitude.”
The fact the odds have had a four-point swing is somewhat of a surprise. But then you remember the Miller injury and that sportsbooks have taken a wait-and-see approach with the Broncos. That’s why the sportsbooks aren’t sold on quarterback Drew Lock and Denver just yet.
There is no doubt that some of the books are still high on Tennessee after a trip to the AFC Championship game in what feels like 84 years ago.
The other reason some of the sportsbooks may like the Titans is the addition of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney is a problem for any team to block, and that could be especially true for Denver since it has questions at both tackle positions. Since Clowney just signed, how effectively and how much he’ll play on Monday night remains to be seen.
Broncos vs. Titans notes
However, the Broncos have won seven straight season openers at home. The last time the franchise lost a regular-season opener at home was in 2011 when Denver lost to the then-Oakland Raiders, 23-20.
All-time, the Broncos are 30-7-1 in season openers at home. Of course, that was with fans in the stands.
The Denver Broncos host the Titans in Week 1.
The Broncos have won their last seven Week 1 home games.
They are 28-6-1 all time at home in Week 1.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 8, 2020
Some other nuggets to keep in mind as you decide how to wager on Denver’s 2020 opener. The notes are courtesy of the Broncos’ weekly game release it sends to the media:
- The Broncos are 16-22-1 all-time against the Titans (and Houston Oilers).
- Denver is 10-7-1 at home in this series.
- The last game at home in the series was last season when the Broncos won 16-0.
- Denver will appear on Monday Night Football (MNF) for the 29th consecutive year, the longest streak in NFL history. The Broncos are 32-41-1 all-time on MNF, including 24-12-1 at home.
- This is also Denver’s 75th appearance on MNF, which ranks fourth in league history. The Broncos trail the Miami Dolphins (85), Dallas Cowboys (83) and San Francisco 49ers (78).
What to expect from the opener?
Since this is the first game of the season, Denver needs to set the tone. That is even more vital now that Miller is out.
Whether the Broncos start on offense or defense, they need to punch Tennessee in the mouth. That sounds cliche, but Denver needs cliche right now.
A fast start will build the Broncos’ confidence but also remind them that this is football.
Since this is the first game of the season, hiccups are inevitable. Both teams will have breakdowns, penalties and turnovers. Denver can mitigate that with a fast start that gives it an early advantage.
The last thing the Broncos want is to open at home with all the strangeness and then add an early deficit to the equation.
The other big factor in this game is Titans running back Derrick Henry. If Denver is able to contain him as they did last season, the path to success in this game is a lot easier. If Henry goes off — as he’s prone to do — it’ll be a long night for the Broncos.
In last season’s game, Denver held Henry to 28 yards rushing on 15 carries.
That’s where the addition of defensive tackle Jurrell Casey will play a vital role for Denver. The interior push Casey can bring has been absent for the Broncos since Malik Jackson left after the Super Bowl 50 win.
Casey won’t have to search for motivation either. This is his first game in Denver and it’s against the team that traded him for a seventh-round NFL draft pick.
The idea of a ticked-off Casey against Henry and the Tennessee offense is a nice caveat for the Broncos.
Even with the loss of Miller, Denver is in a great spot to hit the over of 7.5 wins and have a successful season.
It’s been a wild ride to get to this point, and it feels a little weird to say it, but Broncos football is back.