Denver Broncos' Melvin Gordon
Denver Broncos' Melvin Gordon (25) celebrates with Javonte Williams (33) and K.J. Hamler (1) after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Broncos won 27-13. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)


Patrick Werkmeister

Both teams have playoff aspirations coming into this Thursday night contest but are faced with injuries in what should be a challenging week for them. For this AFC matchup, Myles Garrett and the Cleveland Browns look to defend home field against Teddy Bridgewater and the Denver Broncos. While the Broncos QB will be nursing a foot injury in this one, Cleveland will be out with two of their starting running backs and their quarterback. Among uncertainties at other positions, it will be an uphill battle for the Browns without many of their key players. However, they do have one of the deepest rosters in the league to keep this one competitive. With that in mind, here are the best bets for this game

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Broncos (+1.5)
This line opened up favoring the Browns by a large six points but following their blowout loss to the Cardinals plus injuries, the point spread has dropped to just one and a half at time of publication. Denver comes into this one having lost 3 straight where they are also 0-3 ATS. However, this squad is primed to bounce back vs a crippled Browns offense.

Additionally, the Broncos have also gone 11-3 ATS in their last 14 on Thursday night and have covered three straight in primetime. Despite not having significant casualties on the defensive side of the ball for this week, Cleveland’s D has been one of the worst in the league to this point. Their passing defense has been especially shoddy, where they have let up the third-most passing TDs in the league (14) and have just two interceptions on the season. Denver has always been defense-first, so they’ll be set up nicely versus a second-string offense and an atrocious defense. Although running the ball has been Cleveland’s bread and butter, the Broncos boast the fourth-best run defense in yards per carry allowed at 3.7. With their two starting backs out and their offensive line in disarray, don’t expect them to produce at their standard rate. Don’t be surprised if the Broncos pull out an upset and bank on them covering as the road dog. 

Melvin Gordon Over 41.5 Rushing Yards
Last week, running back Melvin Gordon gained 73 yards from scrimmage in the Broncos L to the Raiders. Although he splits snaps with Javonte Williams, Gordon continues to get the slightly larger share than his rookie counterpart. Following an injury designation for Gordon going into Week 6, he still produced at a fairly high level. He comes into this week as a full participant in each practice, so his ailment has seemed to have healed properly. With an average of 75 yards from scrimmage per game this year, it’s pretty safe to assume he can hit this relatively low mark. He has displayed that he still has playmaking abilities and as long as he continues to do that, he will be very involved in the offense despite the emerging rookie, Javonte Williams. In their thrashing of the Browns, Arizona ran the football easily for 150 total yards on the ground with their committee of runners. They are vulnerable on defense where teams have run all over them this season. Take Melvin to pass this total in what should be a run-heavy approach for Denver. 

D’Ernest Johnson Anytime TD (+135)
One of the starters at RB this week for Cleveland is D’Ernest Johnson and he will see plenty of action. Although he will be splitting time with back Demetric Felton, without their starting QB Baker Mayfield, running the ball effectively will be a point of emphasis on offense. Johnson is expected to handle the early down duties, while Felton will sub in mainly for third downs and pass plays. This gives him a favorable chance of seeing the endzone when they run in between the tackles if/when they get to that end of the field. At +135, these odds have tremendous value due to the fact he is the favorite to score between both teams. During a glimpse of his play last week, it’s easy to see that no matter who you put behind their line, they will have some measure of success. Take him to score one in what should be a busy night for him.  

Same Game Parlay
Javonte Williams Anytime TD Scorer, D’Ernest Johnson Anytime TD Scorer, Case Keenum Over 219.5 Passing Yards, Melvin Gordon Over 41.5 Rushing Yards, D’Ernest Johnson Over 59.5 Rushing Yards, Courtland Sutton Over 67.5 Receiving Yards, Javonte Williams Over 13.5 Receiving Yards and Denver Broncos to win by 1-13 Points.
SGP Odds +24733  

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