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MNF Point/Counterpoint: A Case For Denver Or Oakland's Fond Farewell?

MNF Point/Counterpoint: A Case For Denver Or Oakland's Fond Farewell?

Swinging Johnson’s MNF ATS record: 9-7
Doug Upstone’s MNF ATS record: 7-9

Denver (6-8 SU, 6-7-1 ATS) at Oakland (3-11 SU, 5-9 ATS)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)

S.J.’s Free NFL Pick: Broncos ATS

Doug’s Free NFL Pick: Raiders ATS

Best Lines Offered: 5Dimes

Swinging Johnson got his second consecutive ATS cover in this weekly “Monday Night Football” battle and he’s gunning for No. 3 this week. The Broncos are coming off a 17-16 home loss to the Browns and have played their way out of the playoff picture with consecutive defeats. The NFL odds board hung them as favorites in both losses and that has to sting those backing Denver in their NFL picks.

But this week it’s all shiny and new with Swinger bucking the Broncos’ recent ATS trend and vowing they will cover the number as small road chalk in Oakland. Meanwhile, Doug Upstone is determined to shake off the funk of the past two Monday nights and get back on the winning track with the Raiders in this 2018 MNF finale.

Let’s see what the boys have to say about this matchup.

Swinging Johnson: What’s up, Big D?! It’s the last MNF game of the season and I’m on a roll … not a hoagie, grinder, submarine sandwich kinda roll but more like a petite finger lady. My picks have covered the last two with the Carolina Cats cashin’ last week over the Saints, and although it was an ugly game and kind of an ugly cover as well, I’ll take it.

OK, so on to Week 16 as the Broncos invade Oakland. Can’t you just see a little kid going to his first NFL game all dressed up in Silver & Black and has a great time with his father and can’t wait to go back next year to the Coliseum with daddy in tow. Dream on, junior; ain’t happening. The Raiders are headed for Sin City. Kid needs to learn that dreams crash fast and die hard.

All right, Doug, I’m on the Broncos here but the line scares me a bit because it seems like Denver should be favored by about 5. What say you, good sir?

Doug Upstone: Kind of an ugly cover? Like Saints guy starts bobbling the ball at the 1-yard line for no reason and instead of securing, tries to reach out and loses the ball through the end zone. That made so sick that I couldn’t even watch Scott Van Pelt on ESPN for Bad Beats, I was so disgusted.

Speaking of disgusting, that’s exactly what we have for this Monday night “thriller.” Choosing this game is kind of like picking to have an axe go through your hand or your foot.

I’ll take the Raiders, but it’s mostly a play against Denver. After a nice-looking three-game winning streak to get back to 6-6, the Broncos lost at San Francisco and at home to Cleveland. That winning streak was like driving through the Rockies on a clear part of the day, then a blinding blizzard hits. Case Keenum, please!!!! Keenum was an above-average quarterback with Minnesota, a Final 4 team last season. This year with the Broncos, all Keenum has proven is that he fits right in with this motley 6-8 team. OK, that should have you riled, Swinging Johnson. Bring both barrels against my Raiders pick.

S.J.: Throwing shade at the Broncos when the team your backing is ranked dead last in points allowed (29.9 PPG) and 29th in points scored (18.6) makes no sense. Look, I’m not necessarily arguing with you that Case Keenum has regressed this season over last … or should I say reverted back to what he always was except for 2017 in Minny when he struck a Faustian deal that expired when the Vikings sent him packing and wooed Kirk Cousins in his stead. But the defense for Denver is tough against even the best offenses, and when you’ve got an offense that’s truly offensive like Oakland, how are they going to move the ball? I mean sure, this could be a 17-13 snooze-fest but if Denver wins by 4, according to the new math — which I do oh so proficiently — that’s enough to get the cover. You think Derek Carr will be reborn or what?

Doug: I’m glad you brought that up, S.J. You might recall, Carr threw for 288 yards at Denver in September and the only reason Oakland lost, 20-19, is they had the same bad luck I did last Monday against you. The Raiders outplayed them. Hey, I got nothing to say about how bad the Raiders defense is; they are that bad. But if the oddsmakers are correct, that means a close game and your Horses are just as likely to lose as the Black and Silver. Plus, ol’ Case, he’s 9-14 SU in games started that were not in purple uniforms and he’s 1-6 SU when the spread is -6 to +1 for the team he’s playing. I know the Raiders as a team have fewer sacks than Khalil Mack has himself, but at least Oakland has a better coach than that dolt Vance Joseph.

S.J.: You’re big on the whole coaching thing, aren’t you? I prefer to bet on players and teams because I’ve yet to see a coach make a tackle or score a touchdown. Now before you spill your warm milk all over your onesie, I understand coaches’ decisions can influence the outcome of games, but what we need to focus on is the actual, ya know, players.

If you want to toss Case Keenum to the wolves, I’ll tell you where their den is but let’s not get carried away with Derek Carr, either. You’re right, he tossed for 288 yards in their first meeting but Keenum threw for 222 on 10 fewer completions than Carr. Now, I’m not sure what I’m saying with that but I just adore stats. You know, if you torture the numbers long enough, they’ll confess to almost anything. Denver did trample Oakland on the ground with 168 rushing yards but now let’s talk a few trends here. Check these out:

  • Raiders are 1-4 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
  • Raiders are 1-4 ATS in their last five games after allowing less than 150 yards passing in their previous game.
  • Raiders are 1-7-2 ATS in their last 10 games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game.
  • Broncos are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games.

Now I’ll give you the close to this little tête-à-tête. What do you leave the readers with, my friend?

Doug: Great point on coaches, S.J. Belichick, Walsh, Gibbs, Landry, Noll and Lombardi, pretty much the same guy as Joseph, just with better players. Those are all great numbers, but this one matters: Denver is 0-6 ATS in road games after two or more consecutive losses against the spread the last three seasons. The Raiders’ last home game in Oakland is a winner! Merry Christmas to you, Swinger, and to all the loyal SBR readers!