As the old saying goes, “If you have two quarterbacks, then you don’t have any.” While the rest of the AFC West are locked into their starting QBs, the Denver Broncos are on the fence between young Drew Lock and veteran ATS ATM Teddy Bridgewater.
Broncos bettors may be hoping for Teddy B, who’s an incredible 36-14 ATS all-time as a starter, but Denver needs more than Bridgewater to bring home the bacon. All eyes are on Vic Fangio’s defense, which should return to its spot among the league’s elite stop units.
Check out our 2021 Denver Broncos NFL betting preview.
Denver Broncos futures odds
|To Win Conference||+1,500|
|To Win Division||+700|
|To Make Playoffs||Yes +145/No -165|
|Season Win Total O/U||9 (Under -120)|
Best futures bet: No playoffs (-165)
Denver has had trouble versus the AFC West (see below) and while its schedule ranks 24th in terms of SOS, there aren’t many layups on the calendar. The Broncos play on the East Coast three times in the first five weeks and close the year with five of their final seven contest against divisional rivals — a stretch that will make or break those playoff hopes.
The 2021 season win totals say the Broncos are playing for third in the AFC West (KC 12.5, L.A. 9.5) and will be in a dog fight for the seventh and final ticket to the tournament with the likes of Tennessee, Miami, New England, and Pittsburgh.
Denver Broncos betting overview
What will win bets: Pass Defense
Injuries ripped Denver’s defense apart at the seams in 2020. The pass rush was inconsistent, but still posted 42 sacks, and there was no danger element to this unit, recording a mere 16 takeaways. Despite that, the Broncos still finished 13th in Defensive DVOA at Football Outsiders (albeit 25th against the run).
Pass rushers Bradley Chubb and Von Miller are nightmare material for opposing QBs — when healthy — and the secondary improved greatly by drafting Patrick Surtain II and signing Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller.
What will lose bets: Quarterbacks
Broncos fans were holding out hope that Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson would climb the mountain in 2021. For now, they’re left with Lock and Bridgewater. Those aren’t horrible options, but they aren’t covering the spread on their own — despite what Bridgewater’s insane ATS record says.
Lock is as raw as Eddie Murphy in a purple leather suit and could reel it in during Year 2 under Pat Shurmur but was ranked 31st out of 34 NFL QBs by The Athletic due to his wild inconsistency. As for Bridgewater, he’s the example of consistent: consistently adequate. He’s banking on the Broncos defense to win games and avoiding any pressure on his aging frame to make big plays.
Denver Broncos game-by-game odds
Denver is giving the points in nine of its 17 games in 2021, including being pegged as the chalk in three straight outings to start the season — twice as a road favorite. That’s a wild swing for Vic Fangio’s squad, which closed as an underdog in every game in 2020 (9-7 ATS).
The Broncos’ schedule is backloaded with AFC West rivals, playing five of their six divisional games after the Week 11 bye. Under Fangio, Denver is just 4-8 SU and 5-7 ATS versus AFC West rivals, including a 1-5 SU count and 2-4 ATS in road divisional dances.
|1||@ N.Y. Giants||-1||42.5|
|3||vs N.Y. Jets||-5.5||42.5|
|6||vs Las Vegas||-3.5||47|
|12||vs L.A. Chargers||-2.5||45.5|
|13||@ Kansas City||+9.5||50|
|16||@ Las Vegas||+2.5||47|
|17||@ L.A. Chargers||+3||45|
|18||vs Kansas City||+3||45.5|
Early season forecast
The Broncos stop unit feasts on some weaker quarterbacks in the opening three weeks of 2021, which sets them up for a strong start despite playing back-to-back roadies out East to kick off the campaign.
The season opens in the Meadowlands against the Giants, with Denver dealing one point to the host side for a 4:25 p.m. ET start. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur should have some inside intel on the G-Men, given he was their OC for two seasons before coming to Denver. This line opened New York -1 but with the Rodgers rumors bubbling up this summer, early bettors tried to get out ahead of a potential blockbuster deal and action on the Broncos swung the spread over the fence.
Denver stays coastal for a Week 2 venture down to Jacksonville, laying another slim spread as road chalk. The Broncos defense gets its first taste of No. 1-overall pick Trevor Lawrence in this 1 p.m. ET start. In two years under Fangio, this team is 7-3 ATS in non-divisional road games (4-6 SU) but was never the favorite in those away contests.
One of my favorite long-term trends with teeth is back on the board in Week 3 for the Broncos’ first home game. Denver is a desirable 18-3 SU and 13-4-4 ATS in home openers since 2000. The narrative is there: opponents aren’t quite in game shape this early into the season and must go up to Mile High and play in the energy-sapping thin air. The Jets are catching 5.5 points in this tough spot, coming off matchups with Buffalo and Tampa Bay — and likely starting a rookie QB in Zach Wilson.
Week 7 @ Cleveland +7
That Week 3 home opener is one hell of a spot for Broncos backers. But when it comes to possible play-against situational capping, circle the Thursday Night Football date in Cleveland in Week 7. This will be Denver’s fourth road trip in the first seven weeks and is played on a short turnaround. In contrast, this meeting is the middle of three straight home stands for the Browns.
Denver wrapped 2020 with an even 8-8 Over/Under clip but sided with the Under in five of its final eight games. The 2021 totals are calling for plenty of low-scoring finishes, as outside of a 50-point number at Kansas City in Week 13, the remainder of the Broncos’ O/U totals are at 47 points or less with bookies giving this defense its due.
Vic Fangio’s stop unit has done right by Under backers against AFC West opponents, posting a 4-8 Over/Under record in divisional contests since 2019. This trend isn’t only reserved to this current coaching staff either, as Denver is 13-21-2 O/U in divisional contests since 2015 — a 62 percent Under payday.
Star power props: Jerry Jeudy, WR
|Player prop||Odds to win|
|Receiving Yards Leader||+6,600|
|Receiving Yards Total||920.5 (Over -115)|
|Receptions Total||68.5 (Over -115)|
|Receiving TD Total||4.5 (Over -150)|
Best prop: Under 68.5 receptions (-115)
Jeudy had a solid rookie campaign, considering the quality of company throwing him the football. He snagged 52 balls on 113 targets but also got dinged for 12 drops — second-most in the NFL.
He instantly became Denver’s top target when Courtland Sutton went down with an ACL tear in Week 2. Sutton is back for 2021 and was a beast in 2019 (72 receptions/1,112 yards), which will take away plenty of Jeudy’s touches. Mix in a possible game of musical chairs at QB and a lack of chemistry and timing could plague this passing game.
Trend to know
As mentioned, the Broncos haven’t been pegged as favorites much since Fangio took over in 2019. In fact, Denver is 2-3 ATS as the chalk in that span. Expectations are higher in 2021, as books have the Broncos giving points in nine games.
That could be an issue.
Denver has had a devil of a time covering as a fave for a while now, boasting a 16-25-3 ATS record (39%) in those spots since 2015. Even in a place like Empower Field at Mile High, with its built-in home-field advantage of thin air and cold weather, the Broncos are just 8-15-3 ATS (35%) as home favorites over the past six seasons.
Denver is laying points in seven home stands this year.
Games with Broncos as home favorites in 2021
- Week 3: -3.5 vs. Jets
- Week 6: -3.5 vs. Raiders
- Week 8: -3 vs. Washington
- Week 10: -5.5 vs. Eagles
- Week 12: -2.5 vs. Chargers
- Week 14: -7.5 vs. Lions
- Week 15: -5.5 vs. Bengals
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