NFL – Resurgent Johnson to excel in TNF

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NFL nut Kyle Brown (@Kyleianbrown) runs the rule over the Thursday night's NFL clash between Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals. 

Denver Broncos @ Arizona Cardinals | Friday 19th October 2018, 01:20 | Sky Sports

On the back of a four-game losing streak, the (2-4) Denver Broncos travel to Phoenix for Thursday Night Football this week to take on the (1-5) Arizona Cardinals. Both sides will be looking at the game as a must-win to ensure their season isn’t effectively over before the half way point.

Broncos general manager John Elway has been publically critical of the side in recent weeks, claiming the defence to be “soft” – a word not characteristically associated with a team featuring the likes of Von Miller and Chris Harris.

Miller is well aware of the comments, telling reporters to expect the very best from himself and his defence this week. He’s not been playing as well as is expected, but the talent he possesses is still unquestionably there. With his defence coming up against the worst ranked offense, the match-up couldn’t be a better opportunity to reignite confidence and form.

Coming into Week 7, the Cardinals rank last in total offense, rushing offense, total first downs and in third-down conversion percentage. While rookie Josh Rosen has come in following the defeat to the Chicago Bears, he has been steady but unexciting – albeit he did lead the Cardinals to their sole win of the season so far.

Johnson can shine

An underperforming and underwhelming Broncos side presents Rosen with an opportunity to showcase his talents, but the real winner of the game may be running back David Johnson.

Four touchdowns in his last three games is more like his 2016-self, and the Broncos defence has allowed two consecutive 200+ rushing yard games – I don’t imagine they will have been able to make drastic improvements given the short week.

Injury-wise, Shane Ray (OLB) and Jared Veldeer (RT) are doubtful for the Broncos, as well as Larry Fitzgerald (WR) and Chandler Jones (EDGE) for the Cardinals, among others. Case Keenum is also dealing with a suspected forearm injury which may be worth keeping an eye on up until kick-off, but as of the time of posting he is still a full participant in practice.

All three of the guards listed on the depth chart for the Cardinals sat out practice on Monday and barring Justin Pugh (who was limited), were on the sideline again on Tuesday. If two or more were to miss Thursday night’s match then expect a lot of positional changes along the offensive line, and be prepared for the Broncos running back tandem to profit.

The betting angle

Betting-wise, this game has one the lowest points over/under set for Week 7’s match-ups at 42.5. If anything, that makes me want to pick the over. Both teams will be fired up and wanting to get back into the winning habit.

For Denver, it’s a chance to reignite their wildcard play-off spot hopes, and for Arizona, Rosen will be looking for his first 300+ passing game and to prove to the NFL he was worthy of a first round draft pick. I can see a 46+ point game on the back of turnovers and defensive errors.

David Johnson has a chance to put up his best numbers of the season. He’s been a bit hit-or-miss this season but is starting to find his pre-injury form. SkyBet have his over/under receiving line set at 28.5 and for me that’s far too low.

Arizona have struggled to get Johnson involved in the passing game as much as they’d like, but this game presents a great opportunity. He’s had over 28.5 yards or more in three out of the six games this year, but in 2016 he averaged 54.9 yards per-game receiving. While the offense has changed since then, he still has the talent to get back to those numbers.

Rosen’s favourite receiver thus far has been Christian Kirk (19 targets through three games) and with Larry Fitzgerald likely having the attention of Chris Harris for the game, I anticipate Kirk to have a good game.

With the Broncos having to focus predominantly on stopping the run to avoid yet another embarrassing defensive display, Kirk should find some room and hopefully bring a pass down for a touchdown at 5/2 (SkyBet).

Overall, I think the game will be more exciting than people initially think, and it’s as good a match-up as any for either teams’ players to put up season-high numbers. I think it’ll be a Denver win in the end but being best priced as favourites (9/10 Betfair) doesn’t show me enough value to back them.

Best Bets

Denver Broncos @ Arizona Cardinals – David Johnson Over 29.5 Receiving Yards (10/11 SkyBet)

Denver Broncos @ Arizona Cardinals – Christian Kirk to score a touchdown at anytime (5/2 SkyBet)

Denver Broncos @ Arizona Cardinals – Denver -2 and Case Keenum 300+ Passing Yards (4/1 SkyBet)

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