nfl
22.12.2023

New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos Game Preview and Pick: Denver Gets Off to a Good Start

While kids are preparing for bed in anticipation of Santa, the adults will be up sweating out bets on the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Patriots and Broncos. All the Patriots can root for on Christmas is a high draft pick, meanwhile, the Broncos will need a Christmas miracle if they want to sneak into the playoffs after last week's loss.

All holiday references aside, the Broncos will only have a 37% chance of making the postseason even if they win this weekend, but crazier things have happened in the NFL, and with their home crowd behind them, I’d expect they come out hungry for a win.

Game Preview

They may have covered the spread, but the New England Patriots could not secure back-to-back wins for the first time all season, as they fell to the Chiefs 27-17. After scoring 21 points in their win the week prior, the Patriots failed to reach the 20-point mark for the tenth time this season while also finishing the game with a (-16.05) EPA on that side of the ball, which sadly wasn’t their worst this year.

While Ezekiel Elliot did all he could against the Steelers to give New England a half-decent run game, the Patriots felt the effects of Rhamondre Stevenson's injury against the Chiefs. On 16 rush attempts, New England finished with just 52 yards, the lowest total they’ve managed since week five.

In turn, the lack of a run game led to Bailey Zappe throwing a season-high 31 times. The second-year quarterback would still end the game under his 185.5-yard prop mark while also throwing for one touchdown and interception. After that performance, Zappe has a 4:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio as he heads into face a Broncos team that allowed 42 points on 448 yards in their loss to the Lions.

If it weren’t for Denver allowing 70 points in week three, their defensive showing against Detroit would have been their worst, as they ended the game with a (-29.35) EPA. Denver’s ability to force turnovers or find “turnover luck” has seemingly disappeared over the past few weeks, as they went from forcing 16 turnovers during their six-game winning streak to just two over their last three games.

Offensively, Denver finished with a positive EPA for the first time in two weeks and still ranks 11th in scoring drive percentage, but I think it’s fair to say you truly don’t know what you will get out of them weekly.

Pick for the Game

On most Colorado sports betting apps, the Denver Broncos are favored in the first half by (-3.5), and I think they can cover that number. Getting off to good starts at home has been one thing that the Broncos have done consistently this season, as they are 6-1 ATS in the first half this year. At the same time, the Patriots are averaging 6.7 points per game in the first half on the road.

When playing at home, Denver averages 13.3 first-half points per game, and after a long three-game road stand, I think the Broncos' offense will be happy to be back in the Mile High. Over their past few games, the Broncos have struggled to find any explosiveness on offense. Yet, with New England allowing the 10th most receiving yards per game to perimeter receivers since week nine, per FantasyPros, the Russell Wilson to Cortland Sutton connection could make an appearance early.

Ultimately, Denver may only need two scoring drives to cover this number since New England has not proven they can get the ball downfield consistently. The Broncos are still 4th in scoring drive percentage on defense, and while their run game has struggled, Ezekiel Elliott has not proven he can exploit those issues since he is 29th in yards after contact per attempt since week nine, according to FantasyPros.

Recap

  • Denver Broncos 1H (-3.5)(-110) on Caesars

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