- Former manager at a Fortune 100 financial services company, now living my dream creating fantasy and sports betting content about the NFL, NBA, and WNBA for ESPN.
The 2022 NFL season is steadily approaching and our betting experts have got you covered. Over the next two weeks we are taking a look at how to approach some of the top teams in league and giving out some futures best bets ahead of opening week.
Eric Moody has been high on the Denver Broncos all offseason. After making a blockbuster trade in the spring for star quarterback Russell Wilson, the Denver finally get over the hump and win a heavily-loaded AFC West division.
Here is the best case, worst case and betting analysis for this year’s Broncos team.
The Bets: Denver Broncos over 10 wins (-110); Russell Wilson over 4,125.5 passing yards (-115), over 31.5 passing TDs (-115)
Best case: Wilson, acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in one of the biggest trades in NFL history, becomes the first quarterback to start for a team he defeated in the Super Bowl. Denver has been looking for a franchise quarterback ever since Peyton Manning retired in 2015. They have used 11 different starting quarterbacks since then, tied for the most in the league. Having Wilson under center and a new coaching regime, Denver is expected to lean heavily on the passing game. With a player like Wilson, you don’t trade for him and have him hand the football off to Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams for most of the offensive snaps. Since 2016, Wilson ranks eighth in completions (1,956), sixth in passing yards (23,085) and third in TDs (186) for a Seahawks offense that was 31st in total passing attempts (3,124) over that time. Through 10 seasons, he has thrown 292 career TD passes, second-most all-time behind Manning (306), and has surpassed 4,000 passing yards four times. The Broncos’ offensive line might not have any superstars, but as a whole, it might be the best Wilson has ever played behind.
Furthermore, the Broncos have a strong defense that includes young playmakers such as Pat Surtain II and D.J. Jones. Denver’s defense ranked third in the NFL in scoring defense in 2021, and the unit also led the league in red zone defense in 2019 and 2020. Without Wilson last season, the Broncos finished 7-10 without Wilson. And despite playing in one of the best divisions in 2022, they have games against the Seahawks, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers. Wilson has played in the league for 10 seasons. In eight of those seasons, he has led his teams to the playoffs and won 10 or more regular-season games.
Worst case: On paper, the Broncos are among the league’s best teams and capable of making a Super Bowl run. But what if Nathaniel Hackett faceplants as head coach? Maybe they do still rely on the run with Williams and Gordon, who both surpassed 900 rushing yards last season but have had injury issues. Additionally, Wilson is entering his age 34 season. The only quarterbacks to surpass an average of 260 or more passing yards per game (minimum 400 attempts) over the last 10 seasons during their age 34 season were Matt Ryan (2019), Ben Roethlisberger (2016), Philip Rivers (2015), Eli Manning (2014), Drew Brees (2013) and Carson Palmer (2013). And both Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy have dealt with injuries during their careers. The same can be said about Randy Gregory and Bradley Chubb, both of whom are defensive playmakers.
Betting spin: Wilson and the Broncos have my trust. The veteran chose this team to play for in 2022. The only quarterback in league history with more wins in his first 10 seasons, including the postseason, is Manning. We have seen numerous examples of veteran quarterbacks surpassing 10 wins in their first season with a new team in the past 10 years, including Matthew Stafford (2021), Tom Brady (2020), Philip Rivers (2020), Case Keenum (2017), Alex Smith (2013) and Manning (2012). Wilson plays in the high-scoring AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs (first in scoring), Los Angeles Chargers (fourth) and Las Vegas Raiders (eighth), who all ranked in the top eight in total yards per game last season. There is a possibility that every division game will turn into a track meet. Wilson could set career highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns. It’s also why I like Sutton over 875.5 total receiving yards and Jeudy over 975.5 total receiving yards.
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