Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos Props Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 3/19/2012
The biggest-name free agent in NFL history has chosen a home: Peyton Manning is going to be a Denver Bronco.
Was it the wisest move? Perhaps not. After all, the San Francisco 49ers made it to the NFC Championship Game a season ago, have one of the NFL’s best defenses, already have signed Randy Moss and play in an easier division than do the Broncos. And the Niners wanted Manning badly. So did the Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins.
It was pretty clear all along that Manning would stay in the AFC – that way he wouldn’t be blocking brother Eli’s path to the Super Bowl and leaves open the possibility that the two could face off for the Lombardi Trophy some day (that’s a ‘yes’-only +5000 option for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans). The Titans probably were the runners-up in this deal; Manning didn’t want to deal with a rebuilding Dolphins franchise and, obviously, the Cardinals and Niners are in the NFC.
I just question whether Manning will like playing in the winter elements when he spent most of his career playing in a dome. And now he must follow in the footsteps two of the most popular quarterbacks in NFL history: his boss, Hall of Famer John Elway, and Tim Tebow. The Broncos haven’t played in a Super Bowl since Elway, who ironically spurned the Colts to land in Denver (the Baltimore Colts drafted Elway but traded his rights to Denver), retired. And, of course, Tebow was a cultural phenomenon last year in leading Denver to the AFC West title after beginning the season as a backup to Kyle Orton. Tebow’s jersey was easily the biggest seller in the NFL a year ago.
Now Tebow likely will be a goner – already the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins -- two teams who need help to sell tickets -- have been mentioned as possible trade partners for Denver. And in the wake of this Manning news, that’s one of the props Bovada has released involving the Broncos: Where Tebow plays come Week 1 this fall. The Jags are the +150 favorites to land Tebow, who is from the Jacksonville area and a legend in the Sunshine State after leading the Florida Gators to two national titles (although in fairness he wasn’t the starting QB for the first one).
But do the Jags need Tebow? If you throw out the marketing reasons, it would seem no. They took Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert with their first-round pick a year ago and recently signed former Dolphins second-round pick Chad Henne to back up Gabbert. There is no doubt the Dolphins could use Tebow. They lost out on not just Manning but also Matt Flynn. Right now their starter is Matt Moore, who actually was decent last season but is otherwise a journeyman. Miami is at +175 to be Tebow’s team next season, the same odds as Denver is to keep him. And that’s not a total impossibility as Tebow could be a terrific change-of-pace QB in a Wildcat formation or as a runner in short-yardage situations for the Broncos. Plus, he seems humble enough to sit and learn from Manning for a few years.
The other options are the New England Patriots at +700 and Cleveland Browns at +1200. Never rule out Pats Coach Bill Belichick doing anything as he loves to think he’s the smartest guy in the NFL and probably could utilize Tebow in special situations. I can’t see the Browns getting involved here. There’s also a prop on whether Tebow starts anywhere in Week 1, with yes at even money and ‘no’ at -140. If he goes to either Florida team (ruling out the Bucs), yes is a lock. I think he lands in Miami.
As for Manning, there are also a handful of props on his 2012 season. Will he be the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year? That’s an even-money yes-only prop. His top competition for that honor could well be the 49ers’ Moss. But I will certainly take that bet. Will Manning win his fifth MVP award? That’s a yes-only prop at +700. If he leads the Broncos to, say, 11 wins and another AFC West title, it’s likely Manning very well could be the winner of that. Probably worth a roll of the dice.
Here are the over/under totals for Manning this season: 4,000 passing yards, 28.5 touchdown passes, 16.5 interceptions and 65 percent completions (all options both -115). First off, let’s look at Denver’s 2012 opponents outside of the six games against its AFC West foes: home vs. Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Houston. At Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Carolina and New England. That’s seven teams who were in the 2011 postseason.
Denver has the tools to be an explosive offense, with an excellent offensive line and two good running backs in Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee. Manning’s top two wideouts as of now would be Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Both are promising but not proven long-term. Expect the Broncos to add at least one more receiving threat like Dallas Clark and/or Brandon Stokley, two guys who have played with Manning.
Manning has thrown for less than 4,000 yards just once since his rookie year. His career completion percentage is 64.9 – he hasn’t been under 65 percent since 2001. Manning has thrown for more than the 28.5 TD mark in five of his past seven seasons. He has exceeded 16.5 interceptions just once since 2003. I would recommend the ‘under’ on all those. After all, if he gets hurt you would win all of them except maybe completion percentage.
You can also bet on the number of Broncos wins this season, with an ‘over/under’ of 10 (under a -130 favorite). There really are no free passes on Denver’s 2012 schedule. The division rival Chargers, Raiders and Chiefs should all be solid at worst and quite good at best. In fact, the Broncos’ strength of schedule is ranked as the second-toughest in the NFL by opponents’ 2011 win percentage. Have to take the under here.
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