In a match-up that has two teams going in completely opposite directions, the (9-3) Denver Broncos travel to Oakland Raiders (3-9) in a game that means much more for Denver in terms of playoff positioning (8.25pm ET, Thursday).
With just four games remaining, the Broncos have already locked up the AFC West. They are the only team in the division with a winning record and against the Raiders, should no doubt continue the roll they are on that has seen the team win seven in a row.
It is little wonder then that they are favorites by a huge 10.5 points on the sportsbooks’ spread betting lines.
After getting off to a 2-3 start, it wasn’t until week six that the Broncos season really began. Denver failed to score in the first half and found themselves down 24-0 to the San Diego Chargers, who at that point in the season were tied with Denver for first in the AFC West. With the game seemingly lost, the Peyton Manning critics re-emerged, claiming that he wasn’t the player he used to be and that his arm didn’t have the strength it once did.
Entering the half, the Broncos were a team that looked to fade into mediocrity. At the end of the half however, it was Manning and the Broncos that silenced their critics. Led by their quarterback’s 309 yards and three touchdowns, the Broncos were the only team to score for the rest of the game. They reeled off 35 points and beat the Chargers. As it turned out, the Broncos’ loss to the New England Patriots the week prior would turn out to be their last so far.
While Denver has surged toward greatness and the AFC West title, the Raiders have gone in the opposite direction. Mirroring the record of the Broncos, at 3-9, Oakland has struggled both offensively and defensively this season. In addition, they have battled injuries and inconsistent quarterback play. Like the Broncos they have been on a streak, but it is five losses in a row and not seven wins. Most notably in the last five, is the fact that Oakland has lost these games by a margin of over 18 points per contest.
Winning With Peyton Manning
The Broncos shocked many last year when with upstart NFL quarterback and former touted college star, Tim Tebow, they finished the season with a winning record and a surprise playoff berth. When Tebow threw a game-tying touchdown pass, followed by a brilliant field goal kick from Matt Prater, the legend of “Mile High Magic” seemed to live on as Denver stunned the favored Pittsburgh Steelers to win their first playoff game since 2005.
With Tebow gone in the offseason, the Broncos got the real prize in acquiring Peyton Manning from the Indianapolis Colts. Manning had beaten the Broncos before in the playoffs and seemed the perfect fit. As it turned out, he was.
Although the Broncos are loaded with offensive weapons and talent, the biggest reason for their success is hands down, Peyton Manning.
Having gotten off to a bit of a shaky start, once Manning settled in, the Broncos’ offense became one of the best in the league. In all but one of the team’s wins this season, the Broncos have scored at least 30 points. Formerly a great passing team with Hall of Famer John Elway, Manning has brought that back. As a result, the Broncos have been able to thrive under this passing offense.
Ranked just 22nd in the run, the Broncos have been dependent on Manning’s ability to throw the ball. It is with just cause because this season Manning ranks second in the NFL in completion percentage (68.0), touchdown passes (29) and passer rating (104.6).
Against the Oakland secondary which gives up over 250 yards against the pass, Manning should have a field day. Both teams are coming off of short rest, but this bodes much better for the Broncos. Not only will their momentum stay high but also, in his career, Manning has excelled when playing Thursday games after having played the previous Sunday.
Denver’s Defensive Duo
While Manning and the offense are to receive most of the credit for Denver’s success, the defensive prowess of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller cannot be overlooked. For Raiders’ QB Carson Palmer, these two will provide a huge challenge that the ageing former superstar just isn’t up to facing at this point in his career.
Overall, Palmer has not done poorly on the season by any means. The Raiders are easily one of the most pass-first teams in the NFL in any given year. In fact, Palmer averages 45 attempts a game, which is second highest in the league. His 3,347 yards are good enough for eighth highest and his 20 touchdowns also rank him just inside the top ten.
The biggest issue for Palmer however, other than his 13 interceptions, is the fact that the Raiders don’t have much of an offensive line while Denver meanwhile has one heck of a pass rusher.
On the season, Miller has forced five fumbles. Palmer has committed five fumbles. Miller has also sacked the quarterback a career high 15 times, which is third highest in the league. Oakland’s defense meanwhile has just 14 sacks between them, which ranks near the bottom of the league in that category.
In short, Miller should have no trouble padding his totals as Palmer, who has been sacked in all but one game this season, was hit by the Broncos’ defense three times when the teams last met earlier this year.
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders Betting Picks
The Broncos cruised to a 37-6 win when the teams met back in September. Unfortunately for Oakland, all signs point to this exact same thing happening again. Manning has excelled as of late, throwing his name into the hat for a possible MVP. He also dominated the Oakland defense, which if anything has actually gotten worse, to the amount of 338 yards and three touchdowns.
The spread favors the Broncos by a whopping 10.5 points but that shouldn’t scare away even the most skeptical of bettors. Denver really is that good and Oakland really is that bad.
- American bettors should take with confidence the Broncos -10.5pts to best this spread @ +100 (evens) with BetOnline. Betting Advice for Non-Americans: You can get the same terms of that bet with Coral, Blue Square and Paddy Power. However the Broncos -10pts @ 10/11 (equivalent odds of -110) with Bet365, Betfred or BetVictor may be preferable.
- Bet on the total points over/under to fall slightly below the line of 48 @ -110 with BetOnline. Non-Americans: Best odds for this with the non-USA sportsbooks is evens under 48pts with Betfred.