Oakland Raiders (7-8) at Denver Broncos (6-9)
NFL: Sunday, December 29th, 2019 at 4:25 pm ET (Broncos Stadium at Mile High)
Line and Odds: Denver Broncos -3.5 Over/Under: 41
Free ESPN NFL Picks Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders enter the last week of the season with playoff hopes. Their chances of making the postseason are pretty small, but the possibility is there. If you told most football fans that this would be the case at the beginning of the season, most of them wouldn’t have believed you. It is a credit to Jon Gruden that the Raiders are in the position they are in amidst all of the drama surrounding the team. They’ve had to deal with multiple distractions including Hard Knocks, the Antonio Brown situation, the impending move to Las Vegas, and the abnormally long road trip early in the season. Oakland currently has a record of 7-8. They are 2nd in the AFC West ahead of the 3rd-place Denver Broncos and the last-place Los Angeles Chargers. Oakland is currently the 8th-place team in the AFC standings, along with the 7-8 Indianapolis Colts.
There have been some questions about Jon Gruden’s ability to come back into the NFL after such a long layoff and have success. After going 4-12 in his first season, the Raiders made a big improvement in his 2nd season. The Raiders organization also came under scrutiny for some of the roster moves and financial decisions made by the front office. However, they appear to be set up for good things as they move to Las Vegas. Rookie Josh Jacobs has been great as Oakland’s running back. Jacobs has totaled 1,150 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns on a 4.8 yards per carry average. He has a great chance to win Offensive Rookie Of The Year, this season. Unfortunately, the Raiders will not have him in this game vs Denver. QB Derek Carr has had an up-and-down season, but his numbers are pretty solid. Carr has racked up 3,663 passing yards and a 71.1% completion percentage. He has a 20 to 8 touchdown-to-interception ratio, 101.1 passer rating and 65.5 QBR. In order for Oakland to make the next step, they must get their defense turned around. The Raider defense ranks 29th in yards per play allowed, 27th in scoring defense, 27th in 3rd down defense, 30th in takeaways, and 30th in defensive red zone TD percentage.
The Denver Broncos are looking to close out the season on a positive note. Broncos fans aren’t used to this kind of a poor 3-4 year stretch. Regardless of today’s outcome, Denver will finish with a losing record for the 3rd consecutive year. The Broncos have failed to make the playoffs in each of the last 4 seasons. Denver has enjoyed no playoff success since they won the Super Bowl in 2015. For a franchise that went about 3 decades without having back-to-back losing seasons prior to last season, this kind of performance falls short of the expectations that the fanbase generally has for the team. Denver currently has a record of 6-9 on the season. They are the 3rd-place team in the AFC West, behind the 2nd-place Oakland Raiders and ahead of the last-place Los Angeles Chargers. Unlike the Oakland Raiders, the Broncos don’t have even the slightest hope of making the playoffs this season. However, there have been some positives to this season for Denver.
The Broncos have played pretty well after such a poor start to the season. Denver opened up the year going 0-4 through 4 games and 2-6 through 8 games. Denver has managed a winning record in the 2nd half of the season, going 4-3 in their last 7 games. First-year Broncos head coach Vic Fangio has Denver’s defense playing at a fairly high level. The Broncos rank 10th in scoring defense, giving up 20.1 points per game. They give up 5.3 yards per play, which ranks them 12th in yards per play allowed. Fangio’s Broncos also boast the #1 red zone defense in the NFL. In 41 red zone attempts by their opponents, Denver has only given up touchdowns in 17 of them. Offensively, RB Philip Lindsay is on the verge of a 1,000 yard season, having rushed for 958 yards so far. He rushes for 4.7 yards per carry and has 7 rushing touchdowns. Rookie QB Drew Lock has played well in his 4 starts, throwing for 210.8 yards per game, a 64.8% completion percentage, and 6 to 3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has a QBR of 60.6 and a passer rating of 89.4 on the year. WR Cortland Sutton leads the team in receiving with 68 catches for 1,080 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.
Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends
Oakland is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games.
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Oakland’s last 6 games.
Oakland is 3-15 SU in their last 18 games on the road.
The total has gone UNDER in 12 of Oakland’s last 14 games against an opponent in the AFC West division.
Denver is 6-13 SU in their last 19 games.
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Denver’s last 6 games against Oakland.
Denver is 6-1 SU in their last 7 games when playing at home against Oakland.
Denver is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games this season.
ESPN NFL Scores Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos
I’m taking the Denver Broncos -3.5 in this matchup. I respect the way the Broncos have been competing to end the season and I believe they will conclude by beating a division rival in the season finale. Denver’s offense has been better and more efficient with Drew Lock in at QB than Joe Flacco or Brandon Allen. It looks like John Elway might’ve finally found the QB to replace Peyton Manning. The Broncos defense has been above-average which is to be expected when you consider Denver’s recent history as well as Vic Fangio’s defensive prowess. I view Denver as clearly the better team in this game, as evidenced by the respective point differentials. Denver’s 2019 point differential is -35 points, while Oakland’s is -105 points. It will be difficult for Oakland to pack the same punch in the running game without Josh Jacobs on the field. Jacobs has been their best offensive player, and he has played a significant part in Oakland’s offensive success. Also, Oakland has one of the worst defenses in the entire league. They give up yardage in chunks, they can’t force turnovers, they can’t stop teams on 3rd down, and they can’t stop teams in the red zone. There really isn’t much Oakland’s defense does well. I feel good about the Broncos here, so I’d say take the home team and give the points.