For the first time since 2002 – the last time they were in the playoffs – the Oakland Raiders meet the Denver Broncos in a second-half game where both AFC West teams have a winning record. Fittingly for a game between teams with the same record, the Sunday Night Football matchup has the host Raiders as slim 1-point favorites with a total of 44.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The Raiders are 6-2 straight-up and against the spread, largely on the strength of a prolific offense led by third-year QB Derek Carr. It goes without saying that the Broncos defense – with sack-master OLB Von Miller and CB Aqib Talib and CB Chris Harris manning up on Oakland WRs Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper – is the best Oakland has faced.
The Raiders have allowed a league-low nine sacks, but Miller has helped the Broncos amass a league-most 26. For the Raiders to improve on their trend of being 2-5 SU and 0-7 ATS in their last seven home games, they need to give Carr time to let downfield routes develop.
Curiously, under coach Jack Del Rio, the Raiders are 4-6 SU at home but 9-4 SU on the road. The Broncos are less imposing in run defense, and RB Latavius Murray might be able to find some open field on Sunday.
The Broncos are 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS at the season’s midpoint. Denver is 5-2 SU in its last seven road games that have come after playing twice in a row at home.
The first point of reference in the matchup between the Broncos’ 27th-ranked offense and the Raiders’ 31st-ranked defense is the game last December when Oakland DE Khalil Mack got five sacks in the first half. The Broncos now have different personnel – LT Russell Okung and RT Donald Stephenson – to block Mack.
Denver, which is 8-2 ATS over its last 10 games, merely expects QB Trevor Siemian to not make mistakes and keep feeding RB Devontae Booker.
A favorable matchup against a statistically suspect defense might assist the Broncos with avoiding their tendency of slow starts. Denver is dead last in first-quarter scoring margin and couldn’t climb out of early holes in each of their losses. Going down early and having to pass increases Mack’s chances of being the game’s X factor.
The total has gone over in eight of the Broncos’ last 10 games on the road against teams with winning records.