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Ben Gretch breaks down Thursday Night Football and gives us his picks for the game

Denver Broncos vs. New York Jets Predictions

Key Stat: The four defenses the Broncos and Jets have faced over the past two weeks all rank as top five units in Football-Outsiders’ defensive DVOA

This is going to be an ugly game. The Jets are in shambles, while the Broncos are among the teams who have lost the most talent in the NFL to injury in the young season. The Jets may be too, but they are just bad.

And yet, I want to find reasons to be excited about this game. The Broncos turn to their third quarterback of the season, Brett Rypien. He may not be much under center for Denver, but the Jets don’t figure to present him too difficult of a challenge on defense, either. Or at least not nearly as difficult as the Broncos have faced over the past two weeks with Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, who look like two of the better defenses in the league. The Jets do have a solid rush defense, but they’ve been beatable through the air.

And even with Courtland Sutton out, the Broncos have playmakers. Melvin Gordon has looked good in the backfield, but it’s second-year tight end Noah Fant and rookie Jerry Jeudy who spearhead the receiving corps. Fant looks to be ascending in his second season, while Jeudy’s much-discussed route-running prowess has helped him earn targets at a reasonably high rate for a rookie. Both players sit in the top 20 in the NFL’s NextGen Stats average separation metric, and they should be able to provide Rypien some room to throw against this secondary. Another rookie, KJ Hamler, is an explosive player who saw extended action last week and adds a big-play dynamic to the offense.

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On the Jets side, they are hopeful to get Jamison Crowder back. Crowder had a big Week 1, but has missed each of the past two games to a hamstring injury. In that time, the Jets have faced San Francisco and Indianapolis, two more strong defenses. The Jets have responded by seemingly running the ball at all times, giving 37-year-old Frank Gore 36 carries over the past two games despite getting blown out each time. Typically, we’d like to see a team try to pass and get back into a game in that circumstance.

But both teams have poor offensive lines, and they haven’t been able to get anything going against the tough matchups they’ve recently faced. With Crowder potentially back for the Jets, and Braxton Berrios stepping up in his absence with touchdowns in two straight weeks, New York might be able to get something going.

Call me crazy, but I look at this game and specifically the over/under of 40, and I think this is a situation where both offenses have a better matchup than they have faced in some time and will play a little better than they have been. This is two 0-3 teams who have really struggled offensively that have to both be looking at this game as a chance to get their first win. I don’t think these teams are very good, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they will play hard. Slow, run-heavy football at times, maybe. But I’m hopeful both teams attack this game with a little more urgency — Jets coach Adam Gase and quarterback Sam Darnold have been mocked incessantly, and they’re back at home on primetime, while the Broncos had high hopes and have plenty of playmakers, and will want to show they, well, aren’t worse than the Jets. No one wants to have stooped that low.

If the offenses continue to struggle, maybe we’ll get lucky and get an interception return for a touchdown or two. But I’m betting on two very poor offenses showing a little bit of life for the first time this season, and if that happens, we should be able to at least get to 40.

NFL Expert Picks

BET: Over 40 @ -110

You can also read our picks for the Patriots @ Chiefs, this coming Sunday, here.

NFL Free Picks

We enter the fourth week of the NFL season with a blockbuster week featuring some enticing games. OddsChecker's crack team of handicappers, Ben Gretch, Davis Mattek and Ben Rolfe will be covering the very best games, including all of the primetime games.

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Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.

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