Washington Commanders vs. Denver Broncos Preview: Prediction, Best Bets, Odds, Depth Charts (9/17/23)
The Denver Broncos host the Washington Commanders in a 4:25pm ET game this Sunday in week 2 of the 2023 NFL season. The Commanders are looking to start the season 2-0, while the Broncos are trying to avoid an 0-2 hole.
Betting odds have the Broncos as the favorites at -3.5 against the spread, while the over/under is currently set at 39. This article provides Broncos vs. Commanders analysis, predictions and best bets and recommends the best bet in this game as Commanders +3.5.
Commanders vs. Broncos Prediction & Best Bet
Picking games is generally a bit trickier early in the season before we have gathered as much data on the current versions of NFL teams. A lot changes with every team each offseason – way more than fans and even most media members even realize – and while we can analyze a team’s moves and create our own expectations for what a retooled roster might look like, we never really know how it’s going to play out.
That’s part of what makes it fun, and it can also create some interesting value on betting lines. We believe that to be the case with the Commanders at +3.5 in this matchup.
By most measures, the Commanders looked better than the Broncos in week 1, albeit with an easier matchup against Arizona. Opinions may vary on the value of PFF ratings, but for what it’s worth they have Washington significantly ahead of Denver overall, primarily due to a much stronger defensive rating. Washington was 3rd in defensive EPA per play in week 1, while Denver was 29th.
The Commanders’ defense may be even stronger this week if Chase Young is able to return from the neck injury he suffered during training camp. He is still officially questionable, but there is at least a chance he could suit up. Meanwhile the Broncos will be missing one of their prized offseason acquisitions in edge rusher Frank Clark, who suffered a hip injury in Wednesday’s practice.
The Broncos certainly get the edge in the quarterback department with veteran Russell Wilson under center. Wilson looked better in week 1 than he did for most of his first season with Denver, which is a good sign that Sean Payton may be able to get him back to the Hall of Fame level of play he demonstrated for years in Seattle.
Still, we want to see more from Wilson before we can really trust that offense against a solid defense like Washington. On the other hand, Commanders second-year QB Sam Howell showed some of the promise in week 1 that we heard about this offseason (again, with a very cushy matchup).
Sam Howell with great pocket presence and a STRIKE to Cole Turner! pic.twitter.com/LTjD9ACNSN
— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) September 10, 2023
Howell also had his share of young QB mishaps. He held on to the ball too long and took 6 sacks, including a few he probably could have avoided, and he also threw a bad interception. However, we expect him to improve each week under the tutelage of OC Eric Bieniemy, while we can’t confidently say the same about Russell Wilson just yet.
For those reasons we like the chances of the Commanders winning this game outright, and we were tempted to take them on the moneyline at +150, but it’s a bit too soon to trust Howell to lead them to a road victory in the altitude in Denver. The best bet therefore is Commanders +3.5.
We also expect Denver’s defense to be better this week, though the injuries to Clark and DT D.J. Jones are concerning. Still, both defenses in this game appear to have the edge over the opposing offenses, so we’ll take the under on 39.
Commanders vs. Broncos Prediction & Best Bet: Broncos win 17-16, Commanders +3.5 (Best Bet), under 39 points
Commanders vs. Broncos Betting Odds
The current spread of Broncos -3.5 has not moved from its opening line, and it’s unlikely to move much before kickoff. Factoring in the 2-3 point allowance for home field advantage, that means oddsmakers view these teams as roughly equal with a slight edge to the Broncos.
The total opened at 41.5 at most of the major sportsbooks and is trending down. It’s unlikely it would drop below 38, but it’s worth monitoring.
The implied outcome of the current odds is the Broncos winning 21-17.
Commanders vs. Broncos Key Injuries
The most significant injury news affecting this game is the potential return of Chase Young to the Commanders. Young was expected to miss at least 2 games with a neck injury, but after he fully practiced on Wednesday there is a chance he could return earlier than expected.
Besides Young, the Commanders have two starting wide receivers (Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel) and a starting offensive tackle (Sam Cosmi) on the injury report, but all three are trending towards playing. Rookie DB Quan Martin is in the concussion protocol and is officially questionable but seems unlikely to play.
The Broncos have a few key starters on the injury report that bear monitoring. Tight end Greg Dulcich is already out with a hamstring injury, while wide receiver Jerry Jeudy unexpectedly suited up last week but remains on the injury report. On defense, edge rusher Frank Clark and defensive tackle D.J. Jones are also questionable for this game, and Clark is expected to miss a couple of weeks.
Commanders vs. Broncos Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Commanders vs Broncos below.
Broncos’ offensive line vs. Commanders’ defensive front
If the Commanders are going to cover the spread, they’re going to do it on the defensive side, and it all starts with their stacked front seven. Montez Sweat, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen lead one of the fiercest defensive lines in the NFL, and they played like it in week 1. Now they might be getting back Chase Young, but even without him they get edge on the line of scrimmage in this matchup.
The Broncos were efficient offensively against Las Vegas but struggled to create any big plays. They have the weapons to be more explosive against this defense if they can give Russell Wilson time to let plays develop.
Commanders’ rushing attack vs. Broncos’ front seven
The Broncos did an excellent job bottling up Josh Jacobs in week 1, holding last year’s NFL leading rusher to just 48 yards on 19 carries (2.52 average). However, they could be missing two key pieces in their front seven, including starting nose tackle DJ Jones.
The best way for the Commanders to make things easier on Sam Howell is to run the ball effectively with Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson. They were inefficient on the ground in week 1, with Robinson averaging just 3.1 yards per carry.
Denver ranked 21st in rushing EPA per play allowed last season and can be beat on the ground if Washington can create some holes for Robinson and Gibson. That would also open up the play-action game for Howell to be able to attack Denver’s talented secondary.