It has gotten ugly early for Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos, who are past a brief honeymoon phase and already stuck in a bad relationship. For better or worse? There have been no good times for the veteran quarterback in his new home.
More than a month into the season, Wilson ranks as the worst quarterback in the AFC West. He’s not solely to blame for losing games, though: Nathaniel Hackett, the Broncos’ first-year coach, has been even worse at his job.
Wilson desperately needs to change the storyline, and he gets another prime-time opportunity Monday night in Los Angeles. The Chargers, who tend to flop as home favorites, might be an ideal get-right opponent for the Broncos.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, unlike Wilson, is playing at a high level. Herbert has 1,478 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. But Herbert leads a team with some problems, and the biggest is a defense that ranks 30th in scoring by allowing 27.2 points per game. In its most recent home game in Week 3, L.A. was blasted 38-10 by Jacksonville.
The Broncos stumble in with the 31st-ranked scoring offense (15.0 PPG), yet Wilson has to get better, right?
Wilson’s arrival from Seattle was so hyped that Denver drew four prime-game games in the first six weeks. The first three of those games were low-scoring eye sores — the Broncos lost to the Seahawks and Colts by a combined four points and beat the 49ers by one.
The good news is the Broncos (2-3) have been competitive in all five games, so this should be another close call.
Pick: Broncos %plussign% 4.5
Four more plays for Week 6:
STEELERS (%plussign% 10) over Buccaneers: It’s safe to say Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is headed for his first losing season. The Steelers have lost four straight, including a 38-3 embarrassment at Buffalo a week ago, and Tomlin’s defense is missing safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and its top three cornerbacks because of injuries. But don’t be surprised if this ugly, double-digit dog shows up for a fight and makes things tough on Tom Brady. The Bucs have scored more than 21 points only once this season. Pittsburgh rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett is getting more reps and will start to show improvement. DraftKings moved this line to 10 on Saturday morning, so I’ll take the bait.
Bengals (-2.5) over SAINTS: There are reasons to believe Joe Burrow will get the Cincinnati offense on track, one of them being the New Orleans defense. The Saints, surrendering 25.6 PPG, just allowed 396 total yards to the Geno Smith-led Seattle offense. Bet on Burrow and the Bengals’ superior defense.
PACKERS (-7.5) over Jets: It’s time for the Jets and quarterback Zach Wilson to get a reality check on the road. Green Bay’s second-half meltdown against the Giants in London leads to this play. The Packers are 10-0 straight up and ATS following a loss under coach Matt LaFleur. Aaron Rodgers, not LaFleur, gets the credit for that impressive track record. Rodgers is probably the NFL’s most reliable quarterback in bounce-back situations. Unfortunately, this line has ticked up and -7 is gone, but I’ll stick with the Packers to win by double digits.
Cardinals (-2.5) over SEAHAWKS: Arizona has an eight-game home losing streak, but the Cardinals are 2-0 on the road this season and quarterback Kyler Murray is facing a Seattle defense allowing 430 YPG and 30.8 PPG. This matchup sets up well for Murray to improvise and make several big plays. The Seahawks suffered a setback when leading rusher Rashaad Penny was lost to a season-ending injury.
Last week: 2-2-1 against the spread