We had a sweat-free winner with the Over 52 on the Raiders/Chargers game last week, pushing the season-long record of this column to 7-2. I don’t need to tell you – we are pushing for 8-2 this week with another AFC West matchup!
The Raiders are Over Kings.
We should exclude the Browns game at Cleveland, because they played in horrible weather conditions with 28 to 30 mph of winds, rain and snow.
That is not predictive going forward, especially when we are analyzing a matchup that is played in a dome. Excluding that particular game at Cleveland, Raiders games are 7-0 to the Over and are averaging 60.7 PPG on the season.
This market current number is 10-11 points below that average. NFL games are averaging 50.7 PPG this year which includes some wind games.
That means we are getting a league-average total with a team that has an abysmal defense but a pretty good offense. I’ll happily take that.
I am not high on Drew Lock and I don’t believe he is going to be the future of the Denver Broncos. His PFF passing grade ranked bottom-3 last year and he ranks 31 out of 38 qualifying signal-callers in 2020. However, he’s got an intriguing set of skill position players around him – rookie wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler keep emerging and TE Noah Fant is a stud. Fant is dealing with an ankle injury but I fully expect him to suit up.
In addition, the Broncos are getting RG Graham Glasgow back, who’s arguably their second-best offensive lineman and good at run-blocking. That’s sneakily important because Pat Shurmur and Vic Fangio have an obsession with getting the run game going. They should be quite successful in that category because they are going to face an abysmal Raiders defense that will most likely play without its best interior lineman Maurice Hurst, and also without LB Cory Littleton.
The Raiders are very thin along their front seven.
Season-long metrics don’t really let us suggest that the Vegas defense is able to shut down the Broncos offense.
They rank 30th in DVOA, 32nd against the run and 26th against the pass. Expected points added speaks the same language: 29th in EPA/play on the season. It doesn’t even get any better when you look at the second half of their schedule since week 5 where they rank 26th in EPA/play.
The Raiders D have just been consistently bad, and I expect the Broncos to be able to run the ball and get some things going in the play-action game.
Las Vegas doesn’t have the manpower to hold up well on the ground or cover Jeudy, Hamler and Fant consistently.
I pencil in the Broncos for 24-27 points.
Let’s flip sides.
The Broncos are likely getting stud slot cornerback Bryce Callahan and outside corner AJ Bouye back. The latter has been playing a largely underwhelming season. Those potential comebacks might have driven the number a bit down midway through the week. Callahan is dealing with an ankle injury that kept him out last week, so we don’t know how effective he is going to be moving around.
DT Shelby Harris, their best remaining defensive lineman, will be out. So, Denver is missing Von Miller, DT Jurrell Casey, DT Dre’Mont Jones and DT Shelby Harris from their starting rotation.
I doubt that a short-handed Broncos defense is going to be able to prevent the Raiders from scoring more than 24 points on their home turf.
Even though Jon Gruden’s team is dealing with some tackle injuries (Trent Brown won’t be available and LT Kolton Miller is probably 50/50). Vegas have dealt with some issues in the run game in terms of consistency, but they move the ball well through the air. They have also gotten better as the season progressed as they rank 4th in EPA/play since week five, mainly due to increased efficiency on the ground where they rank 1st in EPA/rush and 3rd in success rate over that stretch.
Both offenses should have the ability to move the chains on the opposing defense and I expect both teams to score 24 or more points with ease.
Scores like 31-24 or 30-27 seem likely to me. I released Over 51 -110 to my subscribers early in the week and the number moved against me. To keep things honest, we are going with 51 on the current Matchbook prices, even though a better number is available.
- Broncos vs Raiders OVER 51 +103 (2.03)