Denver (0-3) at NY Jets (0-3)
When: Thursday, October 1st, 2020
Where: MetLife Stadium,
East Rutherford, NJ
Time: 8:20 ET | TV: NBC
Opening Odds: Denver -2.5/40
Rumors have been swirling all around New York that the Jets are very close to firing head coach Adam Gase and Thursday night’s game at home versus the Denver Broncos could be his last chance. The 0-3 Jets have been outscored 94-37 over their first three games after a 36-7 setback at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Firing your head coach in a short week is probably not wise, but the Jets will have 10 days after Thursday to decide whether or not to keep Gase. Both New York and Denver started their 2019 season at 0-4 and one of these clubs will repeat that. Gase is not getting great play from his franchise quarterback Sam Darnold, who threw three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns last week in Indianapolis. It marked the fifth time that Darnold has thrown three or more interceptions in just 29 career games.
Meanwhile, the Broncos will start their third different quarterback of the season, giving the untested Brett Rypien the ball for the first time. Week 1 starter Drew Lock (shoulder) remains out and Jeff Driskel showed nothing in Sunday’s 28-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rypien entered late in the game against Tampa Bay and was 8-of-9 passing for 53 yards and one interception. Rypien enjoyed a standout career at Boise State in which he set a Mountain West Conference record for career passing yardage (13,581 yards). The Denver defense lost five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey for the season with a biceps injury in the loss to Tampa Bay. The unit is already without star linebacker Von Miller for the season.
Denver opened at -3 on the odds board, but the game quickly went to pickem when Rypien was announced as the Broncos starter. Denver had a three-game winning streak both straight up and against the spread in this series until the Jets cruised to a 34-16 victory in Week 5 of the 2018 season. Darnold had three TD passes, while Denver’s Case Keenum (now with the Browns) threw for 377 yards and two TDs in the loss. The Broncos are 5-2 against the spread in the past seven meetings, while the over is 4-1 in the previous five in East Rutherford.
Denver was very competitive in its first two losses this season but not so much last Sunday versus Tampa Bay. Driskel was 17-for-30 for 176 yards with a TD and pick before Rypien came in. Driskell was also sacked five times for a loss of 45 yards. The Broncos’ offense ranks 29th in total yards (289.3) and 30th in points (15.0), while the defense has surrendered 277.7 passing yards a game (29th). Running back Philip Lindsay (foot) was a limited practice participant each of the past two days and there is a chance he could be cleared to team with Melvin Gordon in the backfield. The under is 3-1 in the Broncos’ last four games overall. Denver is 10-3 ATS in its past 13 Thursday games.
The Jets offense is even worse than Denver’s in terms of production, ranking dead last in yards (263.7) and points (12.3). Darnold’s rating of 70.7 is third-worst in the league. Starting receivers Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder missed the game due to injury as did offensive tackle George Fant. First-round rookie offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, linebacker Jordan Willis and safety Bradley McDougald also left early with injuries. Becton (shoulder) and linebacker Jordan Jenkins (shoulder) were limited in practice the past two days, while Crowder (hamstring) could be a game-time decision after missing the past two games. Perriman (ankle) and Chris Hogan (ribs/knee) are less likely to play. The Jets are 3-2 against the spread in their last five home games and 4-1 ATS in its past five as a home dog.
This is a God-ugly game to handicap and watch. If this was a Sunday afternoon, I wouldn’t take a second-look at it. I never like taking rookie/first-time starters under center. There’s a reason Rypien was third on the depth chart. Darnold might not have a long future in this league, but he’s capable of winning a game or two against a banged-up defense. I’ll take the Jets.
Pick: Jets PK
Week 4 Staff Selections