Broncos’ Playoff Odds Take Hit With C.J. Anderson Injury
The defending champion Denver Broncos are sitting in a great spot going into week eight. At 5-2, they’re atop the suddenly extremely competitive AFC West and appear to be in the driver seat to steal the division crown for the sixth year in a row.
As good as their situation appears to be, they may have come across a devastating stumbling block.
C.J. Anderson Injures Knee
Per reports, star running back C.J. Anderson is dealing with a knee injury that he suffered in week seven’s win over the Houston Texans:
Broncos RB C.J. Anderson expected!out at least a few weeks with a knee injury, source says. Second opinion today to see if it’ll be longer.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 26, 2016
The injury was initially feared to be a season-ending ACL tear, but reports suggest the injury is not that severe. Anderson looks to be dealing with a bone bruise, however, and will be out for at least “a few” weeks, if not much longer.
C.J. Anderson has undeniably had his ups and downs as Denver’s lead back, but he picked up serious steam last year during the Broncos’ Super Bowl run and looked to be rediscovering his form in a big week seven win.
Anderson ran all over the Texans last week, piling up 107 rushing yards and a score on just 16 totes.
On the year, Anderson has been a fairly steady presence, churning out over 500 total yards and five touchdowns.
The fourth-year rusher has been a mixed bag, but for a Broncos team that is trying to protect inexperienced quarterback Trevor Siemian, losing their top rusher could be very bad news.
The silver lining here is Denver has a very capable replacement in rookie rusher, Devontae Booker. Booker looked uncomfortable earlier in the year, but has truly come into his own as an NFL runner and enjoyed his best game yet in week seven, where he ran for 83 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
It was Booker’s first career score and most rushing yardage in his young career, which is a positive sign just before the team figures to call his number early and often in a huge week eight clash with the hated San Diego Chargers.
Booker is still somewhat unproven and has had some issues with fumbles, but his talent is off the charts. With an enhanced role, some could argue that he’s a better option than C.J. Anderson was in the first place and that this forced change could actually make Denver’s offense even better.
It’s not likely the Broncos will put all the pressure on Devontae Booker right away, however.
If CJ Anderson cant go or start Sunday for #broncos, Kubiak said it would increase Kapri Bibbs carries and Devontae Booker would start.
— Grant Meech (@KOAAGrant) October 26, 2016
While Booker is a lock to start and see the majority of the rushing work, the team still plans to incorporate backup Kapri Bibbs and possibly underrated fullback Andy Janovich in the running game.
Betting on Broncos
While Booker could easily step in and allow Denver’s running game to keep trucking along seamlessly, he’s still inexperienced and has had issues with ball control. Add an injury to him, and Denver could suddenly be in serious trouble.
Any added pressure on a touch and go Broncos passing attack would be terrible, and it’s not crazy to think Denver could go from a team in an awesome spot to one not sure of its identity very quickly.
Broncos fans and NFL bettors shouldn’t panic just yet, of course. Denver is well coached and their offensive line has been pretty strong. Given Booker’s last effort and his general talent, the loss of C.J. Anderson for a few weeks shouldn’t be something this team can’t overcome.
Denver’s elite defense is a big reason why the cause for concern shouldn’t be too great, while Booker should be fine as the team’s main running back.
There should still be a little hesitance to go all in on the Broncos right now, but this also could be a great time to take advantage of their AFC title and Super Bowl odds, as their numbers could take a hit going forward.
Denver currently has just +750 odds to make it to the Super Bowl right now, while their Super Bowl odds when it comes to repeating sit at +1400, per Bovada.
A team that loses its perceived best running back is going to take at least a mild hit, so this could be a good chance to put a mild bet on Denver getting to or winning it all this year.
For now, we should be a little tentative with our Broncos betting, but they still figure to get the job done this week at home against the Bolts. San Diego beat them at home in the previous meeting and impressively beat the Falcons in Atlanta last week, but they still have trouble closing out games and a sweep over the defending champs may be wishful thinking.
We might give the Chargers a shot at beating the +5.5 spread this week, but Denver is a safe bet to get to 6-2 with a win in week eight. Beyond that, though, Denver could hit a few tough obstacles, as their immediate schedule carries tough divisional games against the Raiders and Chiefs in two of their next three games.
Denver is still a pretty decent bet to go on a bit of a tear here, but betting big on them in the wake of the C.J. Anderson injury may not be the best move.
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