Jay Kornegay begins his explanation of his Las Vegas-based sports book’s underwhelming projection for the 2017 Denver Broncos by saying he hopes he’s wrong.
Kornegay is not just a lifelong Broncos fan. He grew up in Colorado Springs, then as a high school kid living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, he was a single, season-ticket holder who used to attend Broncos’ games during the Orange Crush era at old Mile High Stadium by himself.
Yet, as the vice president of race and sports operations at the Westgate Superbook, Kornegay has the Broncos tied for 17th in the NFL with an over/under projected win total of 8.
As in, 8-8. Other sports books have the Broncos' projected a little better with an over/under win total of 8.5, which places them in the top 15.
Still, Denver is a long ways from the New England Patriots, who play the Broncos on Nov. 12 and have an over/under win projection of 12.5.
“As a bookmaker I’ve got to turn the fan light off and bookmaking light on,’’ Kornegay said. “You say (eight) is not an exciting number and unfortunately that’s how we view the team – they’re just not that exciting.’’
At least the Broncos won’t be burdened with high expectations when training camp opens in 10 days. The Broncos are projected to finish third in the AFC West, behind favorite Oakland and Kansas City and barely ahead of the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Broncos are only a 3 ½-point favorite in their season opener against the Chargers in Denver.
“They were built around Peyton Manning to win a Super Bowl then and there,’’ Kornegay said of the Broncos from 2012-15. “They were putting all their eggs in the basket of Manning and DeMarcus Ware, they were in the win-now mode. Now we’re in the fall out of that. Not a problem because they accomplished what they wanted to do. They won the Super Bowl.
“They won that Super Bowl because of a terrific defense. That defense showed some miles last year. They’re getting older. So it’s not all about the quarterback situation.’’
But the uncertainty at quarterback – will it be the poise of Trevor Siemian or raw talent of Paxton Lynch? – is another factor in the Broncos not moving the needle in Vegas.
The Patriots’ line of 12.5, by the way, is largest Kornegay can remember in all his years in the sportsbook business.
“And it’s not because they’re great but because the rest of their (AFC East) Division is weak,’’ Kornegay said. “If the Broncos played in the AFC East, we’d be talking about a bigger number.’’
The over/under win totals for all 32 NFL teams entering training camp: