Broncos vs. Saints Odds: How To Bet Sunday’s Matchup with Denver’s QB Situation
Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: Taysom Hill.
Broncos vs. Saints Odds
It’s November, and with the college football season still underway, the NFL has decided to preempt the NCAA with the first bowl game of the year on Sunday when the New Orleans Saints taking on the Denver Broncos.
If you’re just coming out of your Thanksgiving food coma, you might have missed the breaking news that every Broncos quarterback has been ruled out for Sunday after being deemed high-risk contacts with Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for COVID-19.
Now, reports indicate that Denver is expected to call up wide receiver Kendall Hinton from the practice squad to make the start.
Hinton played college football at Wake Forest, and was the nation’s 26th-ranked dual-threat quarterback in high school, according to Rivals.com. Injuries and disciplinary issues prevented Hinton from securing the starting quarterback position at Wake Forest after two starts as a true freshman.
He last played quarterback in 2018 when he completed 2-of-8 passes for two yards and one interception. He finished his college career with eight touchdowns, seven interceptions and 1,504 yards.
The Saints opened as 5.5-point favorites before a stream of public money pushed them to -7, but with the latest COVID-19 news, they’re now big double-digit favorites. While I’m not interested in laying that kind of a price, first quarter and first half wagers could be worth a look.
New Orleans Saints
The biggest issue the Saints could run into on Sunday is if they don’t show the proper respect to their opponents.
The Saints will be facing a very one-dimensional Broncos offense — I can’t imagine the Broncos calling a lot of dropback passes for Hinton (or whoever ends up lining up under center). I’m sure the Broncos will dust off the wildcat gadget playbook they used with Tim Tebow, but there’s a reason the wildcat didn’t last more than a year or two in the NFL: Many coaches made it their mission to purge the wildcat offense out of the league for good.
A run-heavy offense will actually play right into the hands of the Saints — they’re ranked second in the league, allowing only 3.3 yards per carry.
The Saints should be able to just pin their hair back and let their run defense go to work. Per TeamRankings, the Broncos come into this game with the NFL’s sixth-worst third down conversion rate at 38.06%, and I can’t imagine that percentage is going to improve tomorrow.
If Denver is unable to sustain any long drives, the Broncos wil be forced to put a tired defense back on to the field. I would expect New Orleans to call plenty of plays from one sideline of the field to the other in order to tire out the Broncos.
Keep in mind that Sean Payton is unlikely to be cautious with Taysom Hill as his quarterback. Last week in Hill’s first game as their starter, he completed 18-of-23 passes for 233 yards and even added a vertical element to the Saints offense with 10.13 air yards per attempt.
Compare that to Drew Brees, who averaged just 5.3 air yards per attempt this season. I suspect that Payton will add more elements to their play design in order to take advantage of Hill’s skill set as he gains more experience and becomes more comfortable under center.
In addition to Brees on IR, the Saints will also be without two starters on their offensive line as left tackle Terron Armstead and left guard Andrus Peat will be inactive. Wide receiver Deonte Harris is listed as questionable despite not practicing this week and the Saints show no defensive players listed on the injury report.
It’s been an up-and-down year for the Broncos as they’ve struggled to gain any consistency.
There were already plenty of questions surrounding this franchise and whether Drew Lock could be their franchise quarterback. Now, they’re getting set to take on one of the hottest teams in the league with an undrafted player who hasn’t played quarterback in two years.
What’s interesting is that this isn’t just Hinton’s first start as a quarterback in the NFL, it’s his first start in the league — period.
The biggest problem for Denver will be trying to avoid turning the ball over. That was already a problem with Lock under center, and it won’t get any easier in Hinton’s first appearance. The Broncos are already tied for the most giveaways in the league, with 23.
While the offense deserves the blame when they turn the ball over, the defense hasn’t been able to contribute with many takeaways of its own. The Broncos’ defense is near the bottom of the league with 10 forced turnovers, while the Saints have managed to force 15 takeaways. New Orleans is +5 in turnover differential while Denver is a league-worst -13.
I don’t see Denver avoiding multiple turnovers on Sunday, which will again put their defense right back out on the field.
The Broncos’ play-calling has not matched their personnel this entire season. Their pace of play (25.58 seconds) is one of the fastest in the league, per Football Outsiders, but it would behoove the Broncos to try to slow the game down and limit the number of possible possessions for their opponents.
It would be an indictment on their coaching staff if it’s taken this dramatic circumstance for them to realize this, especially when you consider that Denver is still a top-10 defense according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
As far as injuries are concerned, only Broncos safety Trey Marshall has been ruled out. On offense, linemen Demar Dotson and Graham Glasgow are listed as questionable along with wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. All three were limited participants in practice on Friday.
On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Bryce Callahan was a full participant on Friday, but his status remains as questionable for this week. Inside linebacker Joe Jones and lineman Sylvester Williams were both limited on Friday and are listed as questionable for Sunday.
I don’t think the Saints will waste much time jumping out in front of the Broncos. Motivation could also come into play, as it’s unlikely that Hinton being plucked to play quarterback will help to rally the Broncos, especially since they know this experiment will not last beyond this game.
With a game spread around 15 points, you can expect to find New Orleans around a 3-point favorite in the first quarter and a 7- to 5.5-point favorite for the first half. I Both of those plays make sense, and I’m especially bullish on any Saints team total props — I would also look to target over 6.5 in the first quarter and over 13.5 in the first half.
Again, the angle here is that Denver will be spent after being on the field for so long, which should create more positive plays for New Orleans. I expect the Saints to also benefit on the scoresheet from turnovers. I would consider any turnover props on the Broncos, but without any actionable lines at the time of writing, we’ll likely need to wait until gameday before making any firm decisions.