The Broncos travel to the land of Silver & Black to take on the Raiders in an AFC West clash. We analyze the total that NFL odds makers are offering and whether to go high or low in our NFL picks.
The New Orange Crush
Since Peyton Manning took his talents from Indianapolis to the Mile High City the Broncos have been known for putting up big numbers on the scoreboard. But a funny thing has happened this season which is the emergence of defense in Denver. As Manning has morphed in the twilight of his career from a game changer to a game manager the Broncos had to modify the tenor of their philosophy and wisely decided to emphasize sound defense over putting all their eggs in one offensive basket.
The plan is working as the Broncos enter Week 5 undefeated and not so surprisingly three of their four games thus far have gone under the NFL odds posted total including last week's 23-20 victory over Minnesota that narrowly limboed under the 43 ½. The Broncos are tied for 11th in points scored averaging 24.2 points per game but are 2nd in points allowed surrendering just 17.2 per contest.
Do The Raiders Finally Have a QB?
Derek Carr has brought a bit of swagger back to the Bay Area and if you throw out the opening game against the Bengals where he was only called upon to throw the ball on 12 occasions (completing seven) the 24-year-old second-rounder is averaging 287 yards per game which would easily put him in the top 10 for passing yards per game. Carr has seven TD's on the season versus only two fumbles and the Raiders are no longer the laughingstock of the NFL.
Because of the contributions of Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, Michael Crabtree and of course rookie sensation Amari Cooper Oakland finds themselves ranked 11th (tied with Denver) offensively averaging 24.2 points per contest. Unlike their opponents defense has not been a priority as the team is surrendering 27 points per game tied for 26th in the league. Even the lowly Chicago Bears managed 22 points last week which was just enough to send the Raiders home with their second loss of the season.
NFL Betting Analysis
Despite the fact that the Broncos are all that and a bag o' chips on defense this season I can see Derek Carr moving the ball through the air because of Denver's ferocious pass rush. That sounds a bit silly doesn't it? Allow me to explain. The Raiders' offensive line is very good and will stave off to a certain degree the swarming Orange Crush who will be using blitz packages that involve bringing edge linebackers into the fray and leaving the medium routes open for the Carr-to-Cooper connection. I am not convinced Latavius Murray will find much room to roam between the tackles but he is a multifaceted back that can be used as a safety valve coming out of the backfield. If the Raiders want to win they know a conservative game plan will not work and this year they can actually score.
Conversely the Broncos should have plenty of options at their disposal against a rather anemic Oakland defense. Manning may not have the golden arm of yesteryear but he is still a savvy technician and will exploit any weakness he sees (which will be many) in the Raiders secondary. Here are a few stats to chew on:
Over is 6-1 in Raiders last 7 games overall.
Over is 7-1 in Raiders last 8 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
Over is 5-1 in Raiders last 6 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.
Over is 7-0 in Raiders last 7 vs. AFC.
Over is 5-0 in Broncos last 5 games in Week 5.
MLB Pick: OVER 43 ½ (-110) at Pinnacle