Raiders vs. Broncos Odds, Picks, Predictions: Why We’re Betting On A Low-Scoring AFC West Battle In Week 16
Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Las Vegas Raiders standout Carl Nassib, second from right, celebrates with teammates.
|Time||4:25 p.m. ET|
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The Denver Broncos’ loss to the Cincinnati Bengals moved them down to 13th place in the overall AFC standings.
The good news, though, is that they’re still just a win back of the current wild-card teams because of how congested the AFC is this season. The Broncos will likely need to win two of their final three games to make a bid for that spot. Unfortunately, all three contests will come against teams with at least a .500 record.
On the other side, the Las Vegas Raiders saved their playoff hopes with a field goal as time expired to beat the Cleveland Browns. In terms of playoff hopes, they’re in the same boat as the Broncos. They will need a minimum of two wins, but only face teams that are above .500 to end the year.
Both franchises are right in the middle of things in the highly contested AFC. Per FiveThirtyEight, the loser of this game is essentially eliminated from the playoffs. Let’s see if we can find an angle to take while these teams duke it out to keep their respective playoff hopes alive.
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Broncos vs. Raiders Injury Report
Broncos vs. Raiders Matchup
|Broncos Offense||DVOA Rank||Raiders Defense|
|Broncos Defense||DVOA Rank||Raiders Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Broncos Adjusting To New QB
The biggest question for the Broncos will be how they replace quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Drew Lock did march down deep into Cincinnati territory on his two drives after taking over for Bridgewater. However, that success can be more credited to the running backs, as Lock completed just three passes.
When the ball was forced into Lock’s hands on the final two drives, the results weren’t pretty. He completed two of his six passes and the Broncos didn’t even make it into Cincinnati territory. This has been on par with Lock’s limited play this year, though.
On his 40 attempts, Lock is completing just 55% of his passes and has two interceptions to one touchdown. He will need to be better if this offense has a chance to succeed.
Fortunately, Denver hasn’t needed to rely on the pass thanks to its running game. Since their bye week, the Broncos have averaged 154.5 rushing yards per game. That trend should continue against the Raiders, who rank 23rd against the run, per PFF.
The offense will also have the defense pick up its slack. The defense has been one of the best, allowing the third-fewest points per drive, per Pro Football Reference.
The main reason Denver has been successful is its ability to turn it up on high-leverage plays. On fourth down, the Broncos rank second and they’re third in the red zone. They will need to continue that success more than ever given their quarterback situation.
The Raiders offense has suffered major losses to its receiving core since their bye and it shows. The first player to go was receiver Henry Ruggs III, who was released because of his involvement in a deadly car crash and is facing several felony charges. The second was star tight end Darren Waller being forced out due to a knee injury. Once again, Waller looks unlikely to play in this spot.
As for Las Vegas’ offensive production, it has just one game where it scored more than 17 points since the bye. This is likely because its offense has lacked that explosive pop it previously had.
Since Week 9, the Raiders have just one game with more than 300 yards and quarterback Derek Carr’s air yards per attempt is down 1.5 yards, per Pro Football Reference.
Unfortunately, the run game hasn’t been reliable enough to pick up the slack from the passing attack. On the year, the Raiders average the fifth-fewest yards per rush. The problem starts up front with their offensive line. Teams have blown through Las Vegas’ blockers as they have the second-worst run-blocking grade, per PFF.
Defensively, the Raiders haven’t been good, ranking 20th in yards per drive and 25th in points per drive. What makes matters worse is their inability to convert in high-leverage situations. Las Vegas ranks bottom six in third-down, fourth-down and red-zone conversion percentage.
Broncos vs. Raiders Predictions
These are teams that seem like they fell backward into their 7-7 records. The Raiders have three overtime wins and then just beat a COVID-19-riddled Browns team on Monday. For the Broncos, scheduling has been very generous to them. Denver has the second-lowest strength of victory of any team at least at .500, per ESPN.
Now, Las Vegas is still trying to find its offensive rhythm, thanks to a depleted vertical passing game. Even against the Browns, who were missing a plethora of starters, the Raiders stuck with the dink-and-dunk offense. Their longest reception went only 17 yards. Until this offense shows it has pop like early in the year, it can’t be trusted.
As for the Broncos, we have seen even when their running game is going, their quarterbacks can still cost them. Against the Chiefs, it was a pick-six by Bridgewater. And against the Bengals, it was a red-zone fumble by Lock.
With Lock starting under center, there is just too wide of a range of outcomes. We could easily see him throw two beautiful, perfect deep passes followed by two of the most “what-in-the-world” interceptions.
Rather than trust either team, let’s turn to the total instead. Since we know both are conservative and will likely not be forced to push the envelope by the other, the under is the way to go.
Pick: Under 40.5 | Bet to: 40.5
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