NFL Odds: Broncos vs. Raiders
Meeting for the first time this season, the Broncos travel to Sin City to take on the Raiders.
The Raiders come into this matchups winners of two straight and right in the mix of the AFC playoff picture, while the Broncos are trying to establish some sort of consistency in 2020, stuck at 3-5 and battling a host of injuries.
Which team will prevail in this AFC West showdown? Let’s examine which to back.
The story for Denver this season has been who has not been able to play.
The Broncos’ injury report has been star-studded, with the likes of Von Miller and Courtland Sutton out for the season. But lately, it has featured key members of the secondary, such as corners A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan. Some good news for Denver? Both are expected to play Sunday to assist a defense that’s allowed 30 or more points in three straight contests.
Last Sunday, Denver’s banged-up defense could not generate enough stops to slow down the Falcons in Atlanta, but in the fourth quarter Drew Lock and the offense scored 21 points for the second straight week.
While the scoreboard looked respectable, the Broncos have been badly outplayed in each of their past two games. This could be an indictment of their early-game offense — they’re averaging eight points in the first half of games, the third-lowest mark in the league.
Lock is completing 56% of his passes and has six interceptions to six touchdowns, and his overall inefficiency has spilled over into the running game: Denver ranks 30th in rushing success rate, per SharpFootballStats.
The Broncos dig holes that are sometimes too large to get out of with their inability to string together offense early in games.
Las Vegas Raiders
Jon Gruden has the Raiders humming, and they’ve been paced by the work of running back Josh Jacobs.
Jacobs is posting a rushing success rate of 57% — only decimal points behind Dalvin Cook for the league lead of rushers with more than 100 carries. Jacobs has not been super explosive, but he is reliable, as is his quarterback. The always precise Derek Carr is completing 68% of his passes and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 16-to-2.
The offense has proven capable of exploding for points at times, breaking the 30-point mark in four games this season, but this is a methodical unit: Vegas ranks third with an average possession time per drive of three minutes and 15 seconds.
If the game script calls for it, the Raiders can lean on Jacobs and chew up some clock.
Even though the offense can control the game, the defense may not hold up its end of the bargain. The Raiders’ D is tied for the league-low in total takeaways with only five, and has held opponents to fewer than 20 points only once.
If Lock wants to get in the back door once again, the Raiders defense may oblige.
While the Raiders defense does scare me, I can’t back the Broncos given their inability to control the game in the first half and find themselves behind way too often. On the flip side, Lock’s garbage time play does also make me wary to lay the points with Las Vegas.
I used the Raiders in a moneyline parlay with the Ravens to get this to -110, which I think is the safest way to play this one with Vegas’ shaky defense.
Denver’s reinforcements on the defensive side could make this game slow and physical early on. Even though both teams have been part of high-scoring affairs recently, the total is set at just 50.5, right around the league average for the season.
The first-half under is a solid play here. On top of that, the Raiders’ slower-developing drives could lead to a low-scoring first half before second-half fireworks.
PICK: 1H Under 25 (to 24)