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Shorthanded, uncertain Broncos still favored to beat woeful Jets Thursday night

NFL: New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Sam Darnold and the Jets are tabbed to go 0-4 by Vegas sportsbooks on Thursday night against the Broncos. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

If you wanted to properly quantify just how bad the New York Jets are right now, consider this: Their opponent on Thursday night — the Denver Broncos — are ransacked by injuries and have not named a starting quarterback, yet they are favored by Vegas sportsbooks in what is expected to be a snoozer of a primetime matchup. 

As of Tuesday morning, the Broncos had not announced if they would go with Jeff Driskel or Brett Rypien as their starter under center and could possibly split snaps. This after regular starter Drew Lock was injured during Week 2 and the signing of former Jacksonville Jaguars starter Blake Bortles last week.

Head coach Vic Fangio has already ruled Bortles out of playing against the Jets, though.

“Blake was here two days last week and to expect him to be able to play on a short week where practice is very limited would be unrealistic, I think,” he said.

Driskel got the start on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after replacing Lock in relief in Week 2. He’s completed just 54.7% of his passes for 432 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions this season. 

His largest issue, however, is an inability to get the ball out of his hands while under pressure. He’s been sacked 11 times in those two games. 

Both the Jets and Broncos are 0-3, but Denver has been far more competitive. They lost by two to the Tennessee Titans — who made an AFC Championship Game appearance last season — in Week 1 before coming up short by five points to the re-stabilized Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago. 

With Driskel getting the start in Week 3, they were handled easily by Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 18.

Rypien has never appeared in an NFL regular-season game after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Boise State by the Broncos last summer. 

Regardless of who is in at quarterback, the Broncos’ passing attack is that much more shorthanded against the Jets with the loss of top receiver Courtland Sutton, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 2. 

It looks as though rookie Jerry Jeudy — who was on the board when the Jets opted to go with offensive lineman Mekhi Becton at the 2020 draft — will be one of Denver’s top receivers from here on out where he’ll give Gang Green a look at what they possibly missed out on as Sam Darnold struggles in an offense without legitimate playmakers. 

The Jets have yet to put together a promising effort in 2020 having been beaten by double-digits in each of their opening three losses. Their offense under head coach Adam Gase is ranked dead-last in the NFL while the defense is 28th in the league.

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