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Is Jets - Broncos really the worst Thursday night matchup ever?

Sam Darnold. Brett Rypien. It’s the New York Jets and Denver Broncos, both 0-3 and floundering, on a short week. Yep, this is the Thursday Night Football matchup everyone is ready to not watch — or watch a little bit to see just how bad it is.

But how bad is it really? Could a matchup between a hapless Jets team with injuries to its receiver corps and a Broncos squad without Von Miller and with a third-string QB making his first NFL start be the worst TNF matchup of all time?

First off, how do we measure what makes a bad game before it’s even started, besides the eye test? For that answer, I had a discussion with my colleagues Steven Ruiz and Chris Korman, who landed on an idea: the over/under (which would indicate a low-scoring game, which we all don’t like, but it’s also a sign of two putrid offenses). We also looked at defensive DVOA for Thursday’s contest to see just how bad these teams are on the other side of the ball.

The over/under has moved around, but per BetMGM, as of Thursday afternoon, it’s at 40.5.

Using Pro Football Reference, we looked at over/unders from games from 2006 when TNF started full-time and eliminated Thanksgiving games (because those aren’t typical TNF games):

So 40.5 wouldn’t even put it in the top 10.

As for offensive DVOA, yeah, these two teams are awful — the Jets are 31st and the Broncos are 30th. But defensively, Denver is 22nd and the Jets are 14th. Not as bad.

Here’s what that tells me: I’m probably taking the under. But also! It’s going to be two very bad offenses running into two not-the-worst defenses. Not exactly must-see TV.

Is it the worst-ever Thursday game? No. But it’s bad and that’s enough for me to skip watching it. I’m sure I’m far from the only one who agrees.



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