Denver Broncos (0-0, 0-0 ATS) at New York Giants (0-0, 0-0), 4:25 p.m.
Implied Team Totals:
Spread/Total Movements: 1.5 to 3, 42.5 to 41.5
Weather: 86 degrees, 10 mph, 0% chance of rain
Broncos Injuries to Watch: TE Noah Fant (knee, probable), OLB Bradley Chubb (ankle, probable), RB Mike Boone (quad, IR)
Giants Injuries to Watch: RB Saquon Barkley (knee, questionable), TE Evan Engram (calf, out), WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring, probable), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot, probable), WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring, probable), CB Adoree’ Jackson (ankle, questionable)
Brolley’s Broncos Stats and Trends
Vic Fangio has the shortest odds to be fired first at +500.
The Broncos are favored in Week 1 after being the only team to be an underdog in every game last season.
Teddy Bridgewater has covered the spread at an incredible 73.5% rate in his career with a 36-13 ATS record.
The Broncos are 2-6 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite.
Denver has played under the total in eight of its last 10 games as a favorite.
The Broncos named Teddy Bridgewater their starting quarterback after he outplayed Drew Lock in the preseason and training camp. Bridgewater has started 12 or more games in a season just three times in six seasons, and he hasn’t ever been more than a low-end QB2 from a fantasy perspective. He averaged just 16.1 FPG (QB23) in his best season with the Panthers in 2020, but he at least showcased his mobility more than ever by ranking 11th in QB rushing FPG (3.9). The Giants allowed the sixth-fewest FPG (17.3) to QBs last season.
Jerry Jeudy profiles as a strong fit for Teddy’s playing style in the intermediate and underneath areas of the field, and the sky's the ceiling if he can clean up some drops from last season He dropped 12 of his 110 targets in his rookie season, which was as many drops as he had in his entire Alabama career on 240 total targets. The Giants allowed the ninth-most catches per game (13.4) to WRs last season.
Courtland Sutton would've been better suited for Lock’s downfield, gunslinger approach, but he’s still coming into the season with some momentum after a strong finishing kick to the preseason. He’s nearly 12 months removed from the ACL injury he suffered in Week 2 last season, and the Broncos need him to upgrade their deep passing attack. With Lock mostly at the helm, the Broncos recorded the second-worst passer rating (48.9) on throws of 20+ yards last year. The Giants allowed the 12th-fewest receiving yards per game (156.1) to WRs.
Noah Fant has steadily improved in his first two seasons after posting 62/673/3 receiving on 93 targets in his sophomore season. His ability to make plays with the ball in his hands can’t be understated, as Fant ranks second to only George Kittle in YAC per reception among TEs over the last two seasons (6.89). New York gave up the 15th-fewest FPG (12.2) to TEs last season.
The hype has been building for Javonte Williams, whom the Broncos rested in the preseason finale to keep him fresh for the start of the season while they played Melvin Gordon. At North Carolina in 2020, Williams averaged 103.6 rushing yards per game and 7.3 YPC while rushing for 19 TDs in 11 games, and he added a career-best 25/305/3 receiving. The Giants allowed the 10th-most FPG (24.8) to RBs last season.
Brolley’s Giants Stats and Trends
The Giants finished a league-high 13-3 toward unders last season, including a 7-0 under run as underdogs.
The Giants are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games as an underdog.
New York hasn’t covered a spread in its last four season openers.
Saquon Barkley is trending toward seeing his first action since he tore his ACL in Week 2 last season. He’ll likely be on some sort of snap count this week and for the next week or two with Devontae Booker working in behind him. Barkley has averaged 21.4 FPG, 6.8 targets per game, and 117.8 yards from scrimmage per game in his 30 career contests. Denver gave up the 12th-most FPG (24.3) to RBs last season.
Daniel Jones is entering a make-or-break third season in his development after the organization added free agent Kenny Golladay and first-round pick Kadarius Toney. Jones showed no improvement last season as he averaged 6.6 YPA and 210.2 passing yards per game with just 11 passing TDs. The Broncos allowed the 11th-most FPG (20.4) to QBs last season.
Kenny Golladay averaged 84.5 receiving yards per game in his four healthy games last season. In his last full season, he tied Stefon Diggs for the league-lead with 16 receptions on 20+ yard passes and he finished just seven yards behind Diggs with 628 yards on those catches. He’s averaging a healthy 16.8 YPR in his first four seasons, and he led all receivers with 11 touchdown receptions in 2019. The Broncos allowed the 13th-fewest FPG (35.7) to WRs last season.
Sterling Shepard has finished no worse than WR48 and no better than WR30 in any of his first five seasons, and he’s always logged between 83 and 107 targets. Shepard has managed that consistency despite missing four or more games in three different seasons. The Broncos finished middle of the pack by allowing 13.3 receptions per game to WRs.
It’s looking like Evan Engram (calf) will miss this week, which will elevate Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith into bigger roles. Rudolph just started practicing with his new team late in August. The Broncos allowed the 15th-most FPG (12.8) to TEs last season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 26.9 (T-10)
Plays per game: 64.9 (12th)
When the game is within a score — Pass: 53.7% (27th) | Run: 46.3% (6th)
When the team is ahead — Pass: 44.2% (25th) | Run: 55.8% (8th)
When the team is behind — Pass: 63.6% (22nd) | Run: 36.4% (11th)
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.5 (T-15th)
Plays per game: 61.4 (27th)
When the game is within a score — Pass: 55.1% (23rd) | Run: 44.9% (10th)
When the team is ahead — Pass: 46.7% (23rd) | Run: 53.3% (10th)
When the team is behind — Pass: 67.2% (12th) | Run: 32.8% (21st)
This is the lowest totaled game on the slate (41.5 points), and for good reason. The Broncos have a massive advantage in the trenches with their front-seven likely to overwhelm the Giants bottom-3 offensive line. Andrew Thomas’ 2020 struggles popped back up this preseason as he gave up a ton of pressure in their final preseason game. Now he has to deal with Von Miller / Bradley Chubb. Good luck! The Broncos sneakily went run-heavy in all three key game situations last year, and I’d have to imagine that a large part of the reason the team went with Teddy Bridgewater over Drew Lock was because they want to play ball-control offense. This matchup plays perfectly into that plan out of the gates. I’m expecting a big dose of Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
One of the key things to watch here is how the Giants align their corners, if they choose to match up. Obviously, Denver has a loaded receiving corps. James Bradberry is one of the best shadow corners in the NFL, and New York also brought in Adoree’ Jackson this off-season.
Bradberry is a matchup to avoid, generally, but will New York put Bradberry on the bigger Courtland Sutton or the quicker Jerry Jeudy? Obviously, Sutton is coming off a serious injury, but has looked great this summer, and so has Jeudy, who isn’t coming off a major injury. Jackson is the “easier” matchup (though not soft by any stretch) and is banged up with an ankle injury, but stylistically, he may be better served defending Jeudy.
There’s also a matchup to avoid for the Giants receivers — if Sterling Shepard plays in the slot, that’s where Bryce Callahan gets his work done. And that is not a fun matchup for Shepard.
Just as a note, I’m not convinced that Noah Fant’s strengths vs. certain coverages match up with those of QB Teddy Bridgewater. Teddy is good for the WRs here, but I’m not 100% convinced he’s good for Fant. We’ll see if those two can get on the same page.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
There is really only one Giant I feel good about playing in Week 1, and “good” is doing some heavy lifting there — it’s Saquon Barkley. Our Dr. Edwin Porras has been optimistic for months that Saquon will be ready to go in terms of his rehab, and it appears that will be the case.
What Edwin’s expertise can’t deduce, however, is how much — if at all — the Giants work in Devontae Booker to try to keep Barkley fresh and/or get his sea legs under him. The fact that the mediocre Booker and rookie Gary Brightwell are the only two RBs on the Giants’ roster outside of Barkley is a good sign, for me. There’s nobody in Saquon’s stratosphere in terms of ability. I’m considering him a volatile but high-upside RB2. Our Adam Caplan thinks Barkley will get 16 to 18 touches.
What the Giants have seen this week from Saquon Barkley has been “promising.” One more obstacle Friday but it would take a setback for him not to be ready vs. Broncos, per Joe Judge.— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) September 10, 2021
As for Daniel Jones and the passing game… no thanks. WR Kenny Golladay is probably the best bet to blow up if someone does, but the perimeter coverage from Denver is no joke and Golladay barely practiced this summer. As noted above, Sterling Shepard has a difficult matchup. We have no idea what Kadarius Toney’s role will be. And Evan Engram (calf) isn’t going to play.
The Giants are easier to attack on the ground than through the air (10th-most FPG allowed to RBs last year), and it makes watching this RB battle between Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon really fantastic to watch. Our thoughts on Javonte are well noted, but I thought it might be interesting to show what Teddy Bridgewater thinks of him.
Teddy Bridgewater said #broncos rookie RB Javonte Williams has a lot of the same traits he saw with Alvin Kamara. Extremely smart, catches well, runs great routes, strong, sets up blockers, low center of gravity.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) September 1, 2021
Said Williams ceiling is so high.
That’s pretty high praise.
That’s high praise, and I think it’s telling that the Broncos held Williams out of their final preseason game while playing Gordon. They have seen enough. We have both Williams and Gordon as RB3s, with a preference to Williams. We expect the gap will widen as the season goes on.
It’s a tough matchup for these receivers. Our preference has been for Jerry Jeudy all off-season so we have him as an upside-oriented WR3 and Sutton as a wait-and-see WR4. Our Greg Cosell thinks James Bradberry would travel with Sutton… if he travels (the Giants were a high-percentage zone team last year).
I have Noah Fant as a low-end TE1, and the range of TE9 through about TE16 on our board is very much interchangeable.