After neither squad looked great in week one, the Washington Commanders and Denver Broncos will look to bounce back this Sunday in a cross-conference clash. With big names such as Brian Robinson and Terry McLaurin taking the field, let’s take a look at the odds and choose some Washington Commanders vs. Denver Broncos Player Props.
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With offenses that looked absolutely lost in week one, and one of the league’s better defenses, unders are on the menu in this one. Let’s take a look at some plays for a low-scoring matchup.
Terry McLaurin Under 46.5 Receiving Yards (-110 BetMGM)
This may seem like a low number for a phenomenal player, especially in a game where his team is fairly likely to be playing from behind. One issue is his health; he suffered a turf toe injury over the offseason and played in the Commanders’ week one win over the Cardinals, but he only registered two catches for 31 yards as he was visibly a notch below full health. That won’t be an issue forever, but it’s hard to know how much closer to entirely healed McLaurin will be coming into this matchup.
One issue that contributed to his anemic statline in week one that will most certainly not be changing is that McLaurin’s quarterback is terrible at his job. Against a team tabbed by many as one of the worst ever, Sam Howell racked up just about 6.5 yards per attempt, and on 31 attempts, one touchdown and one interception. PFF gave him a passing grade in the very low 60s, and credited him with no big time throws and two turnover worthy plays.
The third major factor is simply who the Commanders will be going up against. That would be a Denver secondary that no top wideout relishes the task of facing. This is because the biggest threat on the other side is handled by Patrick Surtain II, perhaps the best cornerback in the league, or at absolute worst second to Sauce Gardner. Last week, he limited Davante Adams to 66 yards, which is of course a higher total than Terry would need to push this total over, but with respect to McLaurin, we are talking about Davante Adams, one of the most prolific pass catchers of the current era.
I believe in McLaurin long term, but until he gets some more health, or at least a better quarterback, he’s going to be a player I’m looking to fade, especially when he’s pitted against one of the best defenders in the sport.
Justin Simmons under 4.5 Tackles (-115 BetMGM)
This game, which is destined to be low-scoring, is the perfect arena for my new favorite type of prop: defense and special teams player props. The counterintuitive thing about defensive player props is that you often “fade” a player you really believe in, and that’s what’s going on here. We’re taking the under on Justin Simmons’s tackles in this game, but not because we think he’s a poor tackler, or doesn’t do his job well, but rather because he does his job so well, and Sam Howell does his so poorly, that Simmons won’t be put in a position to rack up 5 or more tackles.
It’s worth noting that Simmons, a safety, had four tackles in the opening game with the Raiders, a team featuring Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, Austin Hooper and Josh Jacobs. Jimmy Garoppolo is no superstar, but he played very well, and in general is at least better than Howell. The point here is that the Raiders had much more of an ability to get to the second level and force Simmons to get involved, but he was still only targeted twice. Washington has some decent receiving weapons too, but McLaurin is a bit banged up as we discussed, and Howell simply does not have the ability to play a downfield passing game and send throws Simmons’ way, and offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy knows it.
The former Boston College Eagle is also an outstanding ball-hawking safety. He appeared in 12 games last season, but led the league with six interceptions. In 2021, he had five interceptions and seven additional pass breakups. Simply put, even if balls do fly Simmons’s way, they’re likely heading straight to the ground, preventing the need to make a tackle. This decidedly low-octane matchup won’t require much of Simmons, and he should comfortably stay below this number.
Brian Robinson Jr. Under 56.5 Rushing Yards (-110 BetMGM)
Last week, Robinson beat this number, but just by a couple of yards as he racked up 59 on the ground. However, it took him 19 attempts to do so, and while normally I’d be a fan of that volume and project positive regression on the efficiency, there are real reasons to be hesitant when it comes to Robinson this week. One reason that does not expire after the Broncos game is that unlike some backs, Robinson shares the backfield with a viable alternative, Antonio Gibson, who could absorb carries if Robinson falters.
The main reason that I’d hold off on calling Robinson a bounce-back candidate is who he’s playing. The Broncos aren’t known for their run defense as much as their stifling secondary, but they made a point of beefing up the front seven this offseason with the additions of linebacker Alex Singleton and d-lineman Zach Allen through free agency and linebacker Drew Sanders out of Arkansas.
So far, it’s paid off; they limited Josh Jacobs, last year’s NFL rushing yards leader, to 48 yards on 19 carries, averaging roughly half of his per-carry mark from a year ago. Robinson is a great talent, but he’s not Jacobs, nor is Washington’s line comparable to Oakland’s; as a Robinson fantasy owner it pains me to say this one, but this could be a long day for the resilient runner.