Thursday Night Football features two AFC playoff hopefuls who have had rough starts to the year as the Colts travel to Denver to take on the Broncos. We’ll break down the game and give you our predictions and favorite bets to help make the game more enjoyable for you.
Indianapolis Colts (1-2-1) at Denver Broncos (2-2)
@ Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, CO
How to Watch:
- Day: Thursday, October 6th
- Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
- Channel: Amazon Prime
Top Sportsbook Promos:
These are both teams that came into the season looking to new quarterbacks to guide them to the promised land. It just hasn’t quite worked out.
Matt Ryan has been a major disappointment for the Colts so far. Yes, their one win was a big one in a come-from-behind upset of the Kansas City Chiefs. The veteran already has nine fumbles, which leads the NFL by three. He also has five interceptions, which is tied for second in the NFL behind Matthew Stafford’s six. As a result, the Colts are second-worst in the league with a minus-six turnover margin.
The good news is that Ryan is currently third in the AFC with 1,125 passing yards, but the bad news is that he’s throwing so much because this team can’t run the ball. Indianapolis used to be led by a dominant offensive line, but this year’s unit can’t seem to get any push, and stud running back Jonathan Taylor has rushed for just 167 yards on 50 carries over the last three games.
And that was before Taylor sprained his ankle on Sunday. The injury is reported as a low ankle sprain, but Taylor has already been ruled out for Thursday’s game. He will be replaced by Nyheim Hines, who has been more of a pass-catching back during his career and has never had a 100-yard rushing game.
It’s clear the Colts’ offense is in disarray, but the Broncos’ situation might not be any better.
After making a big trade for Russell Wilson, Denver has seen the veteran be fairly average out of the gates. So far, Wilson has completed 61% of his passes for 980 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He’s also rushed for just 51 yards in four games.
Perhaps as a result of Wilson’s injured shoulder or perhaps because of Nathaniel Hackett’s offensive system, Wilson is also averaging a career-low 8.3 intended air yards per pass attempt and a career-low completed air yards per attempt. Even with Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy at wide receiver, this team is not pushing the ball down the field.
They may have to now since second-year running back Javonte Williams suffered a torn ACL in last week’s game. He was just starting to pull away from a committee with Melvin Gordon, so it appears as though Gordon would become the main back for the Broncos. However, Gordon already has four fumbles this season and has been losing work to Mike Boone, and the Broncos just signed Latavius Murray off of the Saints’ practice squad, so it’s hard to know for sure just how this rotation will take shape.
It might not matter since the Indianapolis rush defense ranks sixth in the NFL, allowing just 89.5 yards per game.
Another injury of note is that the Broncos will be without linebacker Randy Gregory, who has been put on the IR, which will take some bite out of the Denver pass rush.
Top Player Props:
If you’re going to be betting on action besides the spread, here are three player props we like from Thursday night’s game:
With Jonathan Taylor out for this game, the Colts are likely going to have to pass more. That’s good news for the Alec Pierce receiving yards prop. Alec Pierce finished second on the Colts in yards and catches last week and was tied for the team-high with six targets. He has 141 receiving yards over the last two weeks, so he’s gone over this in both of those games. Plus, Michael Pittman Jr. will see shutdown corner Patrick Surtain Jr., which means more passes should go to Pierce.
However, it also means Matt Ryan will force some bad passes to Pittman. More passing for Indianapolis likely leads to a Matt Ryan interception here.
When Denver has the ball, they will also likely need to throw more now that Javonte Williams is out. That will likely means more yardage for Jerry Jeudy, who is too talented of a receiver to see his yardage over/under be this low. This Colts secondary is not the strength of the defense, so I’d hope Nathaniel Hackett and company can recognize that and take to the air often.