Sportsbooks Make Broncos 3 Point Favorites
Denver Broncos (6-8 SU, 6-7-1 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (3-11 SU, 5-9 ATS)
Date/Time: Monday, December 24, 8:15 PM EST
Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, Ca.
By Keith Allen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Den -3 / Oak +3 (Game day note: Line dropping to +2.5 at some sportsbooks!)
Over/Under Total: 44½
The Denver Broncos travel to Northern California for a Christmas Eve Monday Night Football clash in Oakland with the Raiders. Online sportsbooks have made Oakland 3 point home underdogs in this contest of long time rivals. Oakland +3 is the right side for this contest. Here is the handicap.
The Last Game in Oakland?
Oakland’s new stadium in Sin City will open in 2020 and the Raiders had intended to play in Oakland through next season. Last week when the City of Oakland decided to sue the NFL and the Raiders, it became clear that 2018 would be the last year for Oakland to be the home of the Raiders. With Oakland travelling to Kansas City in week 17, this week’s game with the Broncos stands to be the final NFL game at the Oakland Coliseum. The fans in the Black Hole will be out in force to cheer for their beloved Raiders. Jon Gruden has his team playing better in the second half of the season, and the motivation should be high to close out the Coliseum era with a win.
The Silver and Black had played a competitive game against the Chiefs in week 13 then went on to beat the Steelers the following week before laying an egg last week in Cincy. Oakland has covered the spread in 3 of their last 5 including the 2 home games in that stretch. The Raiders averaged scoring 16 points per game for their first 11 contests of the season, but have increased that number to 24 ppg over the last 3 games. Gruden and QB Derek Carr have gotten more on the same page, as Carr completed over 70% of his passes in the week 13 & 14 home games. Jared Cook has become the centerpiece of the passing game as the season has progressed. He is averaging 60 yards per game for the season, but eclipsed 100 yards in the last 2 home games. Doug Martin and Jalen Richard have formed a solid running back tandem that is putting Carr in reasonable 3rd down situations. Oakland’s offense took a step back last week against the Bengals, but I look for them to get back in gear this week when Denver comes to town.
Denver Took a Dagger to the Heart Last Week
The Broncos started the season with 2 wins including a win at Mile High stadium against these Raiders. When they got to their week 10 bye, they sat at 3-6 and the season looked hopeless. But they came out of the bye and won 3 straight including games against the Chargers and Steelers to fight back to 6-6. Denver worked their way back into the wild card race then dropped a game in San Francisco before falling to the Browns last week to end any post season hope in Denver. Vance Joseph is a dead man walking as the head coach. There were reports last week that John Elway was trying to get Mike Shanahan to return to coach the team and if Shanahan had been in the stadium when Joseph opted to kick a field goal from deep in Cleveland territory while down by 4 late in the 4th quarter, Elway might have made the switch on the spot. Although it looks like Shanahan will not return to the Denver sideling, there is no chance Joseph returns next year. Joseph is generally overmatched as a coach, and after his team’s playoff hopes have died, he will have no ability to motivate his team this week.
Denver is also playing with skill players that started the year at the bottom of the depth chart. Emmanuel Sanders is on I.R, Demaryius Thomas is in Houston and the Broncos are playing with their 4th string tight end. Star corner back Chris Harris has been out since week 13 and the offensive line is missing 2 week 1starters. Undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay is the best offensive player on Denver’s roster and he has been limited to 54 rushing yards and less than 2 yards per carry in the last 2 games. It could be the Lindsay is running out of gas, or that opponents are focusing on making Kennum beat them through the air. The Broncos have been outgained in those 2 games by a total of 154 yards and it appears the team has run out of gas.
This Game Should Be Pick-Em
With the exception of star pass rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, the Broncos roster is not any better than the roster of the 3 win Raiders. Denver was 5 point favorites in the week 2 game meaning if that game would have been played in the Black Hole it would have been Pick-Em. Oakland’s Dud last week in Cincy has refreshed everyone’s memory of how bad the Silver and Black were at the beginning of the year, but they played very competitive games against 2 of the league’s better teams prior to that game. They are playing at least as good as the Broncos are now. Gruden will have to find a way to tame the Broncos pass rush, but if he can do that these teams are even and the motivational factors are with Oakland.
Take the Points in The Black Hole
Oakland +3 is definitely the play on Christmas Eve at the Black Hole. This is Oakland’s Super Bowl, and if we combine Denver’s lack of motivation and their mediocre talent, we should see a lethargic Bronco team take the field in Oakland.
For the Total Pick on this game, check out LL’s Breakdown!