Writing about this game makes me a little sad. This was once a great rivalry. There is no reason it shouldn’t still be, and the Broncos have certainly done their part this year. The Raiders, though, are a total mess, and they have been for so long now that it’s getting depressing. I’d love nothing more than to close my eyes and pretend that we are back in the glory years of a grand rivalry, but that would require giving Oakland far too much credit — and making a bad decision as a result. Sadly, that means all we can do is deal with the bleak reality of what this game is instead of what it could be.
The Broncos head into this one off on a league-best seven-game winning streak, and they have the comfort of knowing that though they have only played 12 games they have already clinched their lousy division. That doesn’t mean that they have nothing to play for, though. At 9-3 they are tied with the Ravens and Patriots for the second-best record in the league. Houston is 11-1 and is well-positioned to secure the top seed, but those other three teams are playing for a first-round bye and a second-round home game. Denver doesn’t have the tiebreaker with the Patriots, so they can’t afford any losses. Oakland, meanwhile, is at 3-9 and essentially only playing for the best draft pick they can get.
Broncos at Raiders Betting Storylines
I will admit that I was skeptical about the wisdom of investing in Peyton Manning before the season started. I wasn’t sure he could deliver to meet expectations, and even if he did I wasn’t sure he had the ingredients around him to win. So far, at least, I have been wrong. With a quarter of the season left to play, Manning has already set the franchise record for TD passes in a season, and his stats compare favorably to all but his very best seasons. He’s still a 36-year-old QB with a bum neck, so it could end in a flash, but for now there is no reason to assume that he’ll be anything other than strong when handicapping him — especially against an opponent like this.
A month ago the Raiders were at 3-4 and were showing some fight despite their issues. Since then, though, they have lost five straight — the longest losing streak since the forgettable Lane Kiffin era in 2007. The more they lose the more visibly frustrated the team gets, and the harder it gets for them to find something that can help them turn things around. They have given up on creativity and are just relying on what they can do. Carson Palmer has seven 300-yard games this year, and we know he’ll try to air it out. Tight end Brandon Myers is the favorite current target, and he is tied a franchise record with 14 catches last week. This week, though, Palmer is against a Top-6 pass defense, so he might struggle, and even if he doesn’t the truth is that passing yards are not turning into points and wins for the Raiders.
As if the Raiders don’t have enough issues, head coach Dennis Allen has missed all of this short week of practice. He flew home to be with his father Grady after Sunday’s game, and the former NFL linebacker died on Monday night. Allen is expected to join the team again on Wednesday night, but his focus isn’t likely to be at a peak. Situations like this can be motivation and inspiration for teams in some circumstances, but I don’t get the feeling from this team that they are going to be able to maximize that advantage.
You can’t always expect the last meeting between teams to teach you much about what will happen now — especially when that last game was more than two months ago. In this case, though, the gap between the teams was vast so it’s at least worth consideration. Denver had more than twice as much total yardage, almost three times as much rushing yardage, the Broncos’ defensive line overwhelmed the offensive line of the Raiders, and the 37-6 final score was pretty indicative of what happened. Oakland is at home this time, but they are only 2-4 there, and the fan support is obviously not what it could be. Therefore, it’s quite possible that the change of venue won’t have a significant impact.
Broncos at Raiders NFL Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with the Broncos favored by 10 points and has remained relatively stable at that level, though some books are raising it to as high as 11.5 points as the game nears. A solid majority of bettors have been on the Broncos. The total opened at 48 and has climbed slightly to 48.5.
Oakland has not only lost their last five but has failed to cover each spread as well. The road team is 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings between these teams. Five of the last six games have gone “over” the total.
Broncos at Raiders Predictions and NFL Picks
The Broncos are clearly likely to win. The question when the line is big like this is whether you can trust the underdog to keep it close. I just can’t justify that here. Denver is confident and focused — in their eyes they aren’t stopping until they win the Super Bowl. Oakland is a train wreck. It would be surprising if this was close, and I don’t like to bet that I’ll be surprised. Taking the Broncos and giving up the points is the only choice in this one. I would lean to the “under” because I don’t trust the Raiders to do their part to add to the total, but I don’t like that nearly as much as the side.
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