By Christian S. Kohl
With the seemingly incomparable and record-setting offense set to square off against the monumentally futile Jacksonville Jaguars this week, the line of Denver -28 ties a record for the biggest spread ever set. The question is, which side should you take?
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As a former resident of Las Vegas and a multiple year veteran of confidence pools against the spread, I can assert with confidence that betting neither side is your best option. Absent a sophisticated model, betting against the spread is a monumental loser of a long term proposition, and it’s generally best to be avoided. That said, if you are intent on laying action on this game, here are a few things to keep in mind if you consider Denver to be the obvious choice.
Chad Henne and Justin Blackmon, along with Cecil Shorts, are capable of making big plays. This is not a question of who will win the game outright, mind you, but rather whether Denver will win by more than 28 points. A deep strike or two against a Denver secondary which can be beaten on streak routes may be enough to keep the margin of the Denver victory under 30.
Manning will likely not play the entire game. The offensive juggernaut that is Denver only runs when their first team offense is out. If Denver absolutely waxes Jacksonville immediately, odds are Manning and much of the first team offense will sit the entire fourth quarter and possibly a significant portion of the third as well.
With that in mind, here are some arguments in favor of Denver:
I’m not sure Jacksonville can stop Denver’s second string offense either. If the offensive line is left in, and now they are attacked by the likes of Ronnie Hillman rather than Knowshon Moreno, this could still lead to the accumulation of points by the Broncos offense.
Special teams and defensive touchdowns. All the scoring may not come from Manning and company. Trindon Holliday is an absolute monster on special teams, and the inept Jacksonville offense may well cough up the ball for a pick 6 or two.
The efficiency of Denver is what makes them so scary. They seem to not only score on every possession, but score touchdowns. Matt Prater is afforded very few FG opportunities, yet he is constantly on the field kicking the ball through uprights. The loss of Luke Joeckel, along with the scoring threats Denver possesses independent of Manning and the first string offense make Denver the better bet here. The question is simply when will Denver elect to take the air out of the football, and can Jacksonville close ground in that time frame? My hunch is no, and a score something in the range of 52-14 could well be the final. There is always the unfortunate possibility of major injury or other unpredictable circumstances which could keep this game competitive, but barring something absurdly improbable, Denver will win, and likely by more than 28 points.
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Christian S. Kohl is a sports contributor for CBS Local Digital Media.