NFL Point Spread: Broncos -3
The second game on Monday night will pit the Oakland Raiders against the Denver Broncos. The last time these two got together in Denver it was the Raiders who rolled to a stunning 59-14 win as seven point underdogs. Both of these teams have new head coaches this season. John Fox has taken over in Denver and the Broncos are looking to rebuild quickly. Hue Jackson will look to build on the improvements that Tom Cable made in the last couple years. Which of these AFC West teams will get off to a 1-0 start on Monday?
The Oakland Raiders lost their best player on both sides of the football during the offseason. Zach Miller was the team’s go to pass receiver at the tight end spot, but he is now with the Seahawks. Nnamdi Asomugha is probably the best cover corner in the NFL, but he is now in Philadelphia.
How did the Raiders get to 8-8 last year? A running game that ranked second in the NFL drove them to an improved record. Darren McFadden was finally healthy, and he showed the amazing talent he has. If McFadden and Michael Bush both stay healthy, I expect them to have another good year running the football. Jason Campbell is the undisputed starter at quarterback, but he won’t have many weapons to throw it to this season. In addition, the offensive line has some holes that will be difficult to fill.
The Raiders defensive line should be among the best in the NFL, but they’ll need to get after the quarterback to protect an inexperienced secondary. It’s simply not possible to lose a guy like Asomugha and not see the pass defense drop off some. The defense will likely be a little worse than last season.
Most thought Tim Tebow would be the starter for the Broncos as we start up this season, but it will be Kyle Orton under center once again. The Broncos coaches seem to think that Tebow just wasn’t ready to start on a weekly basis. Orton and the passing offense did well a year ago, but it was the rushing attack that must improve. Denver ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing yards per game with just 96.5 last season.
John Fox brings a new attitude to this team, and he hopes that will help them get the ship turned around right away. Fox expects this team to be able to run the football and play solid defense. Von Miller was the team’s top draft pick, and he should help out significantly in his rookie season. Elvis Dumervil missed all of last season with an injury, and the team will be extremely glad to have him back. Champ Bailey isn’t quite the corner he once was, but he is still very good. The safeties could be a bit of a problem since Brian Dawkins has lost several steps. This is a defense that has talent, but they also have some holes.
Both of the games these teams played last year went well over the posted total. I know Fox will slow the Broncos team down a bit, but I don’t see either defense being that good. The over is 16-5 in the Broncos last 21. The over is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings between these two. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Raiders won this game straight up, but my favorite play here is on the over.
Free NFL Pick: Raiders/Broncos over 40
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