Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders Preview and Pick – Week 1 Monday Night Football Picks

Denver Broncos (0-0) -3, 41.5 O/U at Oakland Raiders (0-0) +3, 41.5
O/U, McAfee Coliseum, Oakland, Calif., 10:15 PM Eastern, Monday

by Badger of

The National Football League and ESPN will be experimenting with an
opening night double-header on Monday Night Football this season,
with game two featuring the Oakland Raiders versus their longtime AFC
West rival Denver Broncos in a contest that wont kickoff until 10:15
PM on the East Coast.

The Raiders only won four games in 2007 (4-12 SU, 6-10 ATS), but one
of those wins came against the Broncos in December at home in the
McAfee Coliseum. In fact, if it werent for a last-second field goal
by Jason Elam in the first game (in September, won by Denver 23-20),
the Raiders would have pulled off the series sweep of their hated rival.

Those two games versus the Raiders were the perfect example of what
turned out to be a very disappointing 2007 season for the Broncos.
Denver struggled to a 7-9 record (5-11 ATS) losing four of their last
six games to fade away from playoff contention at the tape.

Even though the Raiders played the Broncos tough last season, and the fact that they are on the road to open the season, oddsmakers opened
the game with Denver listed as 1-point favorites. That number quickly
shot up to 3-point favorites as the early money poured in on the
Broncos. The over/under total has stayed firm at 41.5, while the
Broncos are listed as -153 favorites on the moneyline with the
Raiders listed at +143.

The Raiders will either sink or swim with quarterback JaMarcus
Russell this season. The Raiders No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft,
Russell saw very limited action last year after a protracted holdout
at the start of training camp put him way behind in his development.

Russell will have a few more weapons to play with on offense, as the
Raiders drafted burner Darren McFadden with their first pick in this
years draft to team up with Justin Fargas (1,009 yds., 4 TD) out of
the backfield. They also picked up free agent wide receiver Javon
Walker to give Russell a target to throw to, but questions about
Walkers mental state after getting robbed and beaten in the
offseason in Las Vegas continue to haunt the standout receiver.

Denver on the other hand hopes that an offseason diagnosis of
diabetes for quarterback Jay Cutler will help him overcome his shaky
2007 season (3,497 yds., 20 TD, 14 INT). The Broncos dont really
have big name skill players for Cutler to rely on for help, as
running back Selvin Young (729 yds., 1 TD) is good but not great, and
receiver Brandon Marshall (1,325 yds., 7 TD) makes as much news for
his off the field troubles as he does for his on the field talents.
Marshall is suspended for the opener, leaving Keary Colbert and
journeyman Darrell Jackson as the likely starters.

As questionable as both of these offenses look on paper, both
defenses look even worse.

Oaklands defense was abysmal last year allowing 24.9 points per game
(27th in NFL), 5.74 yards per play (31st) and 4.8 yards per rushing
attempt (32nd). They did acquire some talent in free agency to try
and turn those numbers around, getting cornerback DeAngelo Hall,
safety Gibril Wilson and defensive end Kalimba Edwards.

Denver was equally bad on defense, giving up 25.6 points per game (28th) and 4.55 yards per rush (31st) in 07. They also added some
players in free agency, namely linebackers Niko Koutouvides and Boss
Bailey, but they will need to use their power running game on offense
to take the pressure off of the defensive unit.

Lets not forget that longtime Broncos kicker Elam left the Mile High city in free agency as well, so he wont be around to bail them out
in last-second situations like he has done so many times in the past.
The Broncos will now rely on the unproven Matt Prater to kick in
pressure situations.

If you rely on betting trends to make your picks, you may want to run
and hide as neither team offers up much hope.

The Raiders are just 8-22 ATS in their last 30 games at home, but the Broncos are a meager 2-10 ATS in their last 12 games versus teams in
their own AFC West. The Broncos are also just 5-15 ATS in the last
two seasons as the listed favorite going into the game. The Raiders
have covered in the last four meetings head-to-head, so they do have
that going for them.

With as bad as both teams have been on defense, it shouldnt be a
surprise that the over has been a solid bet. Denver has come in over
the total in nine of their last 11 versus the AFC and the over is
17-5-1 in their last 23 games on grass. However, it is the under that
has cashed in at the window in nine of the last 13 meetings head-to-
head in the series, including both games last year.

Badgers Pick: With the public money being so heavy on the road Broncos, Im going to have to buck the trend and go with the home
Raiders here. Plus, I just think the Raiders have improved more in
the offseason, and they looked stronger during the preseason as well.
Take the Raiders plus the 3 points here.