NFL 2018 Season - Week 14
 

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Double That
by Dennis Ranahan

You know that sound a truck makes when it is backing up?

That beep, beep, beep to alert people that the oversized vehicle is in reverse.

Well, I’d like to do a beep, beep, beep with the Denver Broncos and figure out what the heck is going on with this team and how they ended up in the best motivational spot of the week. If we go back just a few weeks, the Broncos were 2-0 and in Baltimore to meet the Ravens and getting 5½ points on the spread.

Wasn’t enough for the Broncos, who got their win streak snapped and their jocks handed to them by John Harbaugh’s team, 27-14. Suddenly, home wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders didn’t seem as impressive. Still, when the undefeated and AFC West Division leaders, the Kansas City Chiefs, visited Denver for a Week Four Monday Night Football matchup, the smart money followed Denver like a rat to cheese.

The Broncos had opened as a 5½ point home underdog for their game against the Chiefs, but while the public bet on the visiting team the big money came in on Denver and drove the line down like an anvil off a roof. By game time, the spread had dropped two full points with Kansas City posted as a 3½ point favorite.

Turns out the money move created one of those games that occur 7% of the time, that is the shift from the opening line to the closing number turned the would-be point spread winner into a loser. The Broncos lost to the Chiefs after surrendering a fourth quarter lead and also came up on the short end of the point spread play while losing by four points, 27-23.

After four weeks, the Broncos were the only team in the National Football League to not have at least one point spread win. Their opening victory over the Seattle Seahawks was a push on the line and their one point win over the Oakland Raiders resulted in a loss against the six point spread.

Still, off that narrow defeat to the still undefeated Chiefs, the public jumped on Denver getting a point on the spread for their contest last week on the road against the New York Jets. By game time, the public had wagered the Broncos into the favorite role for their meeting at MetLife Stadium, and the Jets took advantage of that sweet motivational spot with a 34-16 win.

Now, off that loss, you can’t find a Denver backer left in the sports books. This week, the public is on the Los Angeles Rams for their visit to the Mile High City on Sunday afternoon.

Can you blame them?

The Broncos burned the bettors last week while unable to beat the lowly Jets, and now they are up against perhaps the best team in football. It doesn’t take a wizard to figure out why the long line in the books are there to take the Rams over Denver.

But, beep, beep, beep, let’s just go back a few weeks and note that a 2-0 team on the road was getting less points against Baltimore than they are now at home off three losses. And, lest we forget, that the line on the Broncos versus the Chiefs was nearly half what it is this week for their game against the Rams.

The Broncos only lost by a half point on the spread to the Chiefs, and Kansas City is the only team in football with both a perfect straight-up and point spread record. The Rams have not beaten the spread in either of their two most recent games, a seven point win and point spread push against Minnesota in Los Angeles, and a two-point win while favored by 7½ points last Sunday in Seattle.

When a team riding a winning streak gets tripped up on the line, it is more likely that team will lose a game straight-up before they beat another bloated point spread.

Is this where the Rams get their winning streak snapped, or the spot the Broncos finally get their first point spread win?

I think the former is a 50/50 proposition, while the point spread decision is nearly double that more likely.

Qoxhi Picks: Denver Broncos (+6½) over Los Angeles Rams