The Broncos lost their elite pass rusher and former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller to an unlikely ankle injury on the last play of practice Tuesday, and the LB will miss the entire 2020-21 season.
Miller’s absence caused the line to immediately shift ahead of the Broncos Week 1 Monday night matchup against the Tennessee Titans. We take a look at the betting implications in that contest as well as the implications for Denver’s futures market below.
Denver Broncos vs. Tennessee Titans
The consensus line for this Monday Night Football tilt had the host Broncos favored by 1 point and now the Titans are 2.5-point favorites at PointsBet, DraftKings Sportsbook and FOX BET. At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Titans are now 1.5-point favorites. The Over/Under remains set at a modest 41 points at most books and that number is exploitable now that the Titans offensive line doesn’t have to deal with Miller.
“Looks like Von had a huge impact on the line,” said PointsBet spokesman Patrick Eichner. “We went back up this morning with Tennessee as a 2.5 favorite. When we took it down last night to re-price, the game was a pick ’em. A flurry of action came in on the Titans last night from 7:30 to 8 p.m. as rumblings of the injury picked up.”
The injury has huge implications for this matchup since the Titans ranked fourth in adjusted sack rate (4.9%) last season. Now they should be able to protect Ryan Tannehill with ease and set up shot plays by running Derrick Henry against a Broncos defense that yielded 111.4 rushing YPG last season.
“We have been getting steady Titan money – except in Colorado – even before the Miller injury,” DraftKings Sportsbook head Johnny Avello told TheLines. “The Broncos have additional injuries on the defensive end so losing their core guy just puts a enormous strain on the overall defense.”
The Broncos do expect Bradley Chubb to start at WLB in Week 1 after undergoing ACL surgery last season. Their replacement behind Miller on the depth chart is Jeremiah Attaochu, a converted DE who set the sack record at Georgia Tech and can play OLB in a 3-4 set, but is clearly not the same level of player as Miller.
Last year, Miller recorded double-digit sacks (14.5) for a fifth straight season to go along with 14 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, and 26 QB hits.
“Typically defensive players don’t notably impact the spread, but a player of Miller’s caliber is an exception,” FanDuel Sportsbook spokesman Kevin Hennessy told TheLines. “Even then we’d only expect the line to move about 1 point at most so this market adjustment initially seems excessive. The timing of this injury is significant being so close to the game with the impact on personnel available and available time to prepare for the game.”
Broncos futures market
The Broncos have the 12th-most difficult schedule this season based on last year’s records and are projected to win 7.5 games with +118 odds on the Over at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Broncos are getting +200 odds to Make The Playoffs at DK and that now seems like a longshot without Miller.
This is a team on the rise that should have a much improved offense in Drew Lock’s first full year. They have offensive weapons in Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, and new feature back Melvin Gordon, plus their defense remains solid with A.J. Bouye joining the secondary.
But aside from favorable division matchups with the Chargers and Raiders, the Broncos only have winnable matchups against the Panthers and Jets, with tough non-division games lined up against the Saints, Bucs, Falcons, Bills, Steelers, and Patriots.
Defensive Player of the Year market
Miller was also a favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year with the seventh-best odds (+1800 at BetMGM) to secure the award.
His absence opens it up for other elite pass rushers to grab the sack title and enter the conversation for some hardware. Khalil Mack (+1500 at DraftKings Sportsbook) and T.J. Watt (+1400) are two of the best outside rushers in the game other than Miller and they could step into the void created by his absence.
Aaron Donald (+750 at BetMGM) remains the favorite to win Defensive POY and stands out as one of the few defensive players who could impact betting lines and futures markets in the same fashion as Miller if he were to suffer a significant injury.