Betting markets not buying what Broncos are selling

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

August 18, 2019 07:19 PM

There’s an ongoing “debate” this summer between many in the mainstream media and the NFL betting market involving new Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. (Denver hosts San Francisco Monday at 8 p.m. on ESPN).

  • Pundits are enthusiastic about defensive guru Fangio, commenting regularly that he’s capable of inspiring immediate improvement that could make the Broncos a factor in the playoff chase. 
  • Betting markets can’t stop yawning. William Hill currently has Denver posted at seven victories on its “Regular-Season Win Total” prop—a one-game rise from 6-10 last season.

Hill has the Broncos are a 15/1 longshot just to win their division, and a much more distant 60/1 to win the Super Bowl. 

If Fangio is destined to be such a difference-maker, why aren’t the most informed betting influences pounding the Broncos in summer betting? Why is Denver still a 2-point road underdog to open the regular season at unimpressive Oakland? Isn’t there a fortune waiting to be made for Broncos backers?

Among the reasons for market skepticism:

  • Denver was disappointing on both sides of the ball last season, not just defense. Fangio may only fix part of their problems.  
  • Denver’s defensive strength was already forcing turnovers, ranking fifth in the league. Fangio’s Bears were first…but he can’t create too much of a lift in this area. 
  • Denver had a reputation for losing “winnable” games under prior coach Vance Joseph. While it’s true that Joseph took the worst of some chess matches, he won a few close ones too. Denver was 3-3 in games decided by a field goal or less. No head coach wins all the nail biters anyway.
  • Fangio, who turns 61 Thursday, is a known quantity. The market understands there’s more volatility with younger coaches who are trying to redefine pro football on the fly. Fangio was an exalted assistant. He’s not likely to surprise opponents as a head coach.
  • New starting quarterback Joe Flacco was available because Baltimore has decided Lamar Jackson is its future. Fading veteran Flacco’s probably not much of an upgrade from over-matched Case Keenum, if he is in an upgrade.
  • John Elway is still the general manager. His record of poor decisions doesn’t inspire betting confidence. And, he can become a distraction by midseason if the Broncos aren’t galloping. 

Fangio certainly didn’t inspire great team performances out of the preseason gate. Denver (-2.5) needed a few very late breaks to steal a 14-10 win over Atlanta in the Hall of Fame game. The Broncos were outgained 261-188 on 3.5 to 3.1 yards-per-play. Then, with a one-week head start on Seattle, Denver (-2) lost scoreboard and stats to the Seahawks a week ago Thursday.  

That head start is still in play this week vs. the Niners. Yet, Denver is only -2.5 at home at altitude vs. a team that’s been training at sea level. Betting markets can’t stop yawning.

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