3 Ways To Win Big on Thursday Night Football Bets: Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos
Two-Leg Parlay (+258)
- Browns QB Case Keenum, Over 221.5 Passing Yards (-115)
- Browns QB Case Keenum, Over 1.5 Passing TDs (+145)
These two props for this parlay are for the same player, so we can talk about them together.
Case Keenum played his best football in 2017 with the Minnesota Vikings in place of Sam Bradford (and Teddy Bridgewater). The career backup and spot starter shined in his first (almost) full season of action. In 15 appearances and 14 starts, Keenum held a respectable 7.4 yards per attempt while managing a 22:7 touchdown to interception ratio. He hardly lit the world on fire, but Keenum played to at least the level of a top-32 quarterback. Keenum even stole a playoff game from the New Orleans Saints with the Minnesota Miracle.
Current Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski was on that Vikings staff as the quarterbacks coach. Stefanski is familiar with Keenum, which is likely why the quarterback landed in Cleveland at this late stage of his career and played a key role in the best year of his life. The familiarity those two have with each other should allow for a smooth transition for Keenum into this offense, especially considering he was also the backup for the Browns last season. However, he didn’t see much action.
From a matchup perspective, this might be the least prepared the Browns have been to run the ball in a while. Not only are both running backs, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, expected to miss this match, but the status of both starting tackles is still up in the air. Left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. and right tackle Jack Conklin each only practiced one day this week as limited participants and are listed as “questionable.” Sure, that does hurt Cleveland’s pass protection as well, but running the ball has generally been a bigger part of their identity, and these injuries all cut into that.
Lastly, Denver’s pass defense is not good right now. Three weeks into the year, the Broncos had the fifth-best pass defense by DVOA but have fallen all the way to 21st thanks to their horrific performance since then. They have allowed 300-plus yards in two of their last three games. The one game in which that was not true was against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who still diced them up for 10 yards per pass en route to 253 passing yards. Denver also gave up two passing touchdowns in two of those games.
Keenum is still a backup at the end of the day, but we have seen this Denver secondary get picked apart time after time as of late. So getting to face them on a short week in Cleveland with Stefanski’s sharp game-planning leading the way is a nice formula for success.
Browns WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anytime TD Scorer (+230)
Though he has only recently found production, Peoples-Jones has played more than you think. Peoples-Jones has played at least 59% of offensive snaps in each game this season. Targets were not coming his way through the first four weeks, but the past two weeks made it apparent that Peoples-Jones can be a viable pass target, especially as a contested-catch guy.
Peoples-Jones can still be that contested catch guy this week, too. That will be especially true in the red zone. Though his red-zone changes have been limited to this point, Peoples-Jones is now playing with a quarterback who is a bit more willing to just chuck one up and let his guy go get it. Keenum did just that with shorter receivers in Minnesota (Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen) with great success. It would not be surprising to see him fall back on that with a 6-foot-2, 212-pounder like Peoples-Jones.
Funny enough, Peoples-Jones also caught his lone red-zone target for a touchdown this season. That one touchdown ties him for a team lead with Austin Hooper and Rashard Higgins, both of whom are not who you might typically expect to be scoring for the Browns, either. However, this Cleveland offense has a ton of ways to score, and it’s reasonable to expect their biggest receiver could carry his two-week mini breakout into some red zone action against a struggling defense this week.
CLE Browns Win With a Shutout (+2200)
Through six weeks, there have only been three shutouts—the Buffalo Bills shutout both the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins. Oddly enough, the third shutout this year was the Denver Broncos’ 26-0 beatdown over the New York Jets. It’s tough to come by.
All that being said, if there were a decent matchup to predict a shutout, it’s this one.
Let’s start with Denver’s offense. The offensive line, while exceptionally coached and well-versed in handling blitz pickups just does not have the talent to win one-on-one battles consistently. Garrett Bolles has regressed some, the guards are wildly up-and-down, and the right tackle situation has largely been a disaster. That group having to face Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney (probably), Takk McKinley, and Cleveland’s group of penetrating defensive linemen is a recipe for disaster.
Throw that on top of the fact that all of Denver’s quarterback stability has been lost. Teddy Bridgewater has been dealing with a slew of injuries over the past few weeks, most recently suffering some lower body issues. So if he is not going to be comfortable moving around and driving the ball in this game, he will have some issues, even against an extremely volatile Browns secondary.
The solution here may be just to run the ball and set up play-action, but good luck doing that against the No.3 rush defense per DVOA. The Browns have an explosive front-four that constantly gets guys in the backfield. They have even gotten a ton of value from rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, too.
This is a longshot, no doubt, but Cleveland might have the most explosive front in football right now, and the Broncos have some uncertainty at both offensive line and quarterback right now. The Broncos are also playing on a short week on the road. It’s going to be tough sledding.