At first glance, the Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos are on opposite ends of the NFL world. They’re not really that far apart, though.
The Broncos had a horrible start to the season but have rallied some, and at 3-5 they’re just a game-and-a-half behind the 5-4 Bills in the AFC standings. That probably speaks to the disappointing nature of the Bills, a preseason Super Bowl hopeful that is hovering around .500, more than anything about Denver.
The Broncos are a 7-point underdog at BetMGM as they head into a Monday night matchup against the Bills. There’s a brief window for the Broncos to actually climb back into relevance this season, but it probably includes an upset win over the Bills on Monday night.
This NFL season should teach us that any team can change without much notice, and maybe the Broncos are in the middle of turning things around? The Broncos shut down the Kansas City Chiefs twice in their last three games, winning one. In Week 7 the Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers, which isn’t worth a parade but it seemed to give them some confidence. In Week 8 they beat the Chiefs 24-9, which nearly caused a parade after Kansas City beat had beat Denver 16 times in a row. Then the Broncos curiously didn’t move anyone at the trade deadline. There are plenty of reasons a team doesn’t trade anyone away at the deadline, but it seemed in part that Denver has a little confidence that it’s turning the corner.
The Bills have been an odd case all season. They have talent and at times look great. The good games are why their advanced stats and point differential still look good. That’s why it’s hard to explain the bad games, like a loss to the New England Patriots or a near-miss to the New York Giants. If you’re thinking the Bills roll over the Broncos on Monday night, remember those performances against teams much worse than Denver.
If the Broncos can pull off the upset, both teams will pull closer to mediocrity. Only one of them would be happy with that.
Here’s the first look at the sports betting slate for Monday:
A light night elsewhere
The NBA has just four games. There’s a New York Knicks-Boston Celtics game, with the Celtics as a 9.5-point favorite, and a somewhat intriguing game between two relatively disappointing teams as the Cleveland Cavaliers face the Sacramento Kings. Both teams came into the season with optimism, but the Cavs are 4-5 and the Kings are 4-4. The Cavs are a 2.5-point favorite.
It’s not a great college basketball night either, though two games could be entertaining. St. John’s is a 2.5-point favorite over Michigan, and Xavier takes on Purdue. Purdue is a 17.5-point favorite, which seems really heavy against a solid Xavier team. There’s a lot of respect in the betting market for Zach Edey and the Boilermakers.
There isn’t much going on in the hockey world either. There are two NHL games, and the marquee game is the Colorado Avalanche at the Seattle Kraken. The Avs are a -150 road favorite.
What’s the best bet?
I’ll take the Broncos and the points. Denver looks way more competitive its last three games, and you can tell yourself a story that an accomplished coach in Sean Payton is figuring out his team. They’d be far from the only team in the NFL to completely change in the middle of this season. The Bills are always capable of a dominant performance, it’s just hard to know when they’ll come. It’s hard to trust the Broncos yet, but I will in this matchup.