Kickoff: 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network
Through three weeks, five teams are still “in the hunt” for 0-16 infamy. Three of them actually haven’t looked that bad and will probably make a run sooner than later.
Then there’s these two circus acts, both consistently showcasing a mix thus far that combines the horror of Pennywise and the bumbling of Bozo the Clown.
Denver definitely has an excuse. They’ve already lost a number of standout players due to injury, including promising young starting quarterback Drew Lock, who is out for at least a few games. Courtland Sutton and Phillip Lindsay are the two other major weapons sidelined on offense, so that’s a large chunk of talent inactive.
After giving backup Jeff Driskel a shot last week and seeing him unimpress, the Broncos have opted to go with their third QB in four contests in undrafted Boise State product Brett Rypien — who was on the practice squad only a few weeks ago.
If that name sounds familiar, you remember Brett’s uncle, Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien. However, given the nephew’s credentials, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll come close to duplicating the former Washington quarterback.
The younger Rypien got his first taste of the National Football League when he was inserted in garbage time during last week’s blowout defeat in Tampa Bay. He actually completed his first eight career throws before getting picked off on his final pass.
Here’s the scenario now, though: It’s Thursday. Rypien just got his toes wet for the first time late Sunday. So not only is the former third-stringer on a short week, he’s dealing with such a predicament at the start of an unprecedented campaign that had no preseason. That means he’s barely seen any reps up to this point.
Rypien gets to lead an offense that is already third-from-the-bottom in the NFL with 15 points scored per game. Denver has also yielded the league’s second-most sacks thanks to a banged-up offensive line, now asked to protect an inexperienced QB from a Gregg Williams-led defense that blitzes often. Considering Pat Shurmur is the offensive coordinator in town, I wouldn’t suddenly anticipate any sorta crooked number on the scoreboard.
One of the two pathetic teams below Denver in team scoring is their opponent this evening, the lowly Jets, who clock in with an NFL-low 12.3 points per week. And unlike the Broncos, New York has had their QB1 under center this whole time.
In defense of Sam Darnold, though, his group is in a similarly precarious situation, with several key Jets inactive. Le’Veon Bell? Hurt — and replaced by plodding dinosaur Frank Gore. Last year’s breakout stud Breshad Perriman? Sidelined. Ditto for rookie Denzel Mims. Additionally, the offensive line has been ravaged by injuries as well.
While Darnold is getting two regulars back tonight — wide-out Jamison Crowder and meaty lineman George Fant — how can he possibly be expected to flip the switch back to his second-half form from last season? Quite frankly, it’s an offense that sucks, and it needs time to find a rhythm. As in, more time than this Thursday Night Football affair.
True, the Broncos have also seen their once-vaunted defense struck by poor health, losing leaders like Von Miller, A.J. Bouye, and Jurrell Casey. Even still, this really isn’t a bad unit in its current state, and there’s enough here to hold down what has just been a putrid Jets offense.
If either team gets it going on any given series, a lack of big plays on both sides point to such drives at least being time-consuming. The two defenses can dictate just how this Game of the Weak unfolds.
The Bet: UNDER 41 (-110)
Record: 2-1, +0.9 unit
Last Week: Raiders-Patriots Over 47 (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit