It is the day after Christmas and the Broncos present is a trip to Las Vegas for an opportunity to increase their Playoff chances. The two AFC West opponents will face-off at 2:25 pm. Mountain Standard time.
Both teams come into the game with a 7-7 record and right in the thick of the playoff race. With other big matchups like the Bengals vs. Ravens, Browns vs. Packers, Bills vs Patriots, Colts vs Cardinals, and Pittsburg vs Kansas City anything is possible for these teams with a win. However, both teams will be playing with their own set of distractions, and their own injury setbacks.
The Raiders have been carrying around the burden left behind by their former Head Coach John Gruden when he got fired earlier in the season. To add to the teams set of off field distractions, they are still looking to fill the voids left behind by number one Wide Receiver Henry Ruggs being released after a horrible car accident, and former first round Corner Back Damon Arnette being released following a controversial social media video he made a few weeks back.
The Broncos problems are more on field involving some major injuries to this team. A lot of the injuries are questionable players who have been nursing injuries for a few weeks now. Players like Shelby Harris, Caden Sterns, Dre’Mont Jones, Mike Percell, Kareem Jackson, and Kenny Young (who is out again with a concussion), are at this point regulars on the injury list. Unfortunately for Denver, a couple major new injuries or Health and Safety victims make this road matchup even more difficult. They will Be without starting Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, starting Middle Linebacker is questionable with a back injury, and starting Center Lloyd Cushenberry is questionable by being in Health and Safety protocols.
Despite all of these injuries, the game is currently listed as a pk game according to PointsBet Sportsbook. That says that the odds makers still believe the Broncos are a more talented roster and should be able to pick up a big road win since the Raiders have lost home field betting advantage.
I expect a large part of that due to the Broncos being red-hot lately on defense averaging only 12 point a game allowed and this makeshift defense is finally causing turnovers at a solid rate causing at least one turnover in six of their last seven games. The Broncos are also one of the best running teams on offense being ranked 8th in the league with 123.8 yards a game, going against the 25th ranked run defense allowing 122.7 yards a game on the ground. The Raiders defense as a whole is pretty average but they are terrible in scoring defense and third down percentage being ranked 30th and 27th respectively. Even with Drew Lock making hi first start of the season, a lot of things point towards the Broncos favor.
Betting Lines via PointsBet Sportsbook:
Spread: DEN +.5
Total: Over/Under 42.5 points
Moneyline: DEN and LV -110
My official game day pick is the Denver Broncos winning outright. Since the Spread is to low, I also think they will cover, but overall I just see Denver winning the game. The Denver defense has been on fire of recently even with this patch work of a defense, and the Raiders have been one of the least consistent offenses in the NFL scoring 16 or fewer points in six of their last seven games. I also like the Broncos chances on their offense having a big game, especially with the run since the Raiders are an average defense as a whole ranked 16th in total yards, and they are terrible against the run being ranked 25th in yards.
The Run game for the Broncos is their strength offensively ranked 8th in the NFL in yards. With the rise of Williams in recent weeks and him being 9th in total rushing yards, I would pound the over on total yards for him Sunday. That and Gordon being heavily used in the Redzone, and with Drew making his first start of the season, I expect them to lean on the run game, especially inside the 20-yard line, so I fully expect Gordon to get at least one Touchdown.
Even though this is going to be Drew Lock’s first start of the season, I like any of the overs for Wide Receivers yards, but I like Suttons the most. When Drew is playing on the same field as Sutton, it is clear that he is Drew’s favorite target. With more than likely a change in the passing game to stretch the field further it is a good bet on any of the Receivers yards.
The last bet I would take is the under on the Over/Under. Neither team is lighting it up offensively, and the Broncos boast one of the best defenses in the league. That, coupled with all of the players missing on both teams offensively I Expect it to be a very low scoring game.