Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#269 Las Vegas Raiders vs.
#270 Denver Broncos
Sunday, October 17, 2021 at 4:25pm EDT
Sports Authority Field, Denver
Written by Eric P.

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The Denver Broncos play host to the Las Vegas Raiders in a crucial AFC West divisional game from Empower Field at Mile High Stadium. The Raiders come in losers of two straight and dealing with a whole host of off-the-field distractions from the Jon Gruden fallout. The Broncos also started 3-0, but have dropped two in a row themselves, placing the entire AFC West into even more chaos. Traveling to Denver is never an easy task but the Raiders certainly have the talent and desire to move past the last week, to come away with a win. The Raiders swept both games last year and have won four of five in the series overall, but Sunday's game has the makings of one that Denver can certainly steal at home.

Raiders Move To Life Without Gruden

A 3-0 start had the Raiders looking like they could be the class of the AFC West, especially with Kansas City's struggles early on. Life has quickly come back to reality though, in more ways than one. Not only did that look outmatched in their last two games, against the Chargers and Bears, but are looking at the turmoil in the locker room from Jon Gruden being fired this week. Even though he's the only coach to go, it's still is a massive change in one week for the players to cope with and adapt from. Beyond just a personnel issue, there's so much time and effort spent talking about his issue that it is sure to have taken away from some time game planning for the week.

The Raiders also have issues they're navigating but are in good shape in terms of keeping their starters relatively healthy. Nine players are out indefinitely or on the IR, with Peyton Barber (toe), being the lone player day-to-day and potentially questionable for the weekend. Damon Anette (groin) and Richie Incognito (calf) are both out but injuries certainly wouldn't be a reason why the Raiders would or could be expected to lose this weekend.

Offensively, the Raiders are right in the middle of the pack, ranking 19th in the league in points per game. They rank 13th in total yards per game but haven't been incredibly efficient with their opportunities. Josh Jacobs finally look healthy should help the running game, which ranks 29th in rushing yards per game. The passing attack is fourth in both passing yards per game and passing attempts per game, near the top in the league, but more balance will certainly help.

Derek Carr has been able to move the ball with ease but only has four touchdowns to show for over 1,600 passing yards. The four interceptions haven't helped either and he'll need to take better care of the ball on Sunday. One to keep an eye out for is Darren Waller, the explosive tight end who has struggled to be as productive this season. He's only averaging 63.8 yards per game, with two touchdowns. His ability to find separation should open things up for Henry Ruggs III and Hunter Renfrow, giving Carr some more options.

Defensively, the Raiders are 17th in points allowed per game. They rank 13th in sacks per game and third in opponent fumbles lost per game, but only 28th in interceptions per game. The good news is that the Broncos' passing attack isn't one that should test the raiders much, allowing them to hone in on stopping the run. Denzel Perryman has cemented himself as one of the best linebackers in the league with a team-high 60 tackles. Cam Littleton has 44 tackles but their inability as a team to get to the quarterback or have an elite pass rusher to lead the charge, could come back to hurt them on Sunday.

Broncos Look To Snap Losing Streak

Much like their opponent on Sunday, the Broncos are also coming off of back-to-back losses. Even though they started the season 3-0, expectations were still pretty tempered given their early schedule. WIns against the Giants, Jaguars, and Jets, have done little to make people think Denver is anything other than just improved over last year's team. Losses to Baltimore and Pittsburgh show that this team still has some time to go before they can be considered a true contender in the AFC West. That doesn't mean that they don't have the firepower to take down the Raiders and started off 4-2 would still exuberate quite a bit of confidence in the franchise and fan base. The continuity in the lineup has certainly helped this season and the hope is that the fanbase can make a difference on Sunday as well.

The Broncos come in with an injury list just a little longer than the Raiders' but also lack seeing any of their prime game-changers on there. 12 players are out indefinitely or on the IR and another four are questionable. Bradley Chubb (ankle) and Jerry Jeudy (leg) are obvious absences that have impacted both sides of the ball. Courtland Sutton (ankle) is one to keep an eye on though to see if he's able to play, it should be a massive boost to a wide receiver group that is already without Jeudy and K.J. Hamler (knee).

The Broncos' offense started out looking strong but back-to-back weeks against some quality opponents have made it clear that they still have quite a bit to work through. They rank 24th in points per game but actually have been more efficient with the ball than the Raiders have been, ranking 17th in total yards per play. The ground game has seemed to be their bread and butter early on but with the potential return of Sutton to the lineup, the receiving core could see an uptick in usage.

Teddy Bridgewater has already proven to be a smart choice at quarterback through the first five games. While he only has seven touchdowns, his one interception has helped to keep control of possession and if nothing else, he'll continue to give the offense a good chance to stay on the field. Melvin Gordon III has looked like a natural early on, with rookie Javonte Williams getting more and more reps of late. The two combine for over 100 yards on the ground per game and given how often they've both been involved in the passing game as well, creates a little flair surrounding this offense play calling.

Defensively is where this team has found its stride of late. They've always had one of the better groups in the league but their ability to stay off the field and not get drained has helped them become far more explosive when they are out there. They rank second in points allowed per game and getting to the quarterback has been a big reason why. They rank tenth in the league in sacks per game and if they can get Carr uncomfortable in the pocket, the last two weeks have shown how much of a downhill trajectory that can cause of the signal-caller.

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The Raiders not only are limping coming into this game from a playing standpoint but also have all of the off-field distractions as well impacting how Sunday might go. Add that to having to go on the road and it doesn't have the makings of a strong game for the Raiders. While the Broncos themselves haven't been impressive of late themselves, they still bring in one of the best defenses in the league and that could be enough to make Carr uncomfortable. The Raiders have moved the ball well through the air but the ground game hasn't been kind to them and that isn't expected to change this weekend. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Oakland, they are 0-4 ATS in their last four games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game and are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game. For Denver, they are 4-0 ATS in their last four games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in their previous game. In games between the two teams, the home team is 8-2 ATS in their last ten meetings overall.

Prediction: Broncos (-3.5)

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The Broncos and Raiders both come in with opposing offensive views but that should still lead to limited scoring on Sunday. The Raiders love to get the ball going through the air but have struggled to capitalize that into touchdowns and Denver's pass rush should limit Carr's comfort in the backfield. For Denver, they are content rushing the ball and working the clock and those limited number of possessions should drive down how the final score ends up looking. Additionally, according to covers.com, for the Raiders, the under is 15-1 in their last 16 games in Week 6 and is 12-3 in their last 15 games after allowing less than 150 yards passing in their previous game. For Denver, the under is 5-0 in their last five games in Week 6, 5-1 in their last six games against a team with a winning record, is 4-1 in their last five games overall, and is 4-1 in their last five games as a home favorite. In games between the two teams, the under is 8-1 in the last nine meetings overall and is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Denver.

Prediction: Under 44.5
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Written By Eric Ploch , "Eric P."

Eric grew up surrounded by sports, whether it was spending the weekend catching games in person or on tv, or heading out to the fields to play whatever sport was in season. What started as a hobby, soon became a passion, as he became the sports editor of his high school newspaper, then wrote for his university newspaper during his undergrad years. After obtaining a degree in Sports Operations and Promotions, and spending 8 years deeply immersed in the sports world, Eric decided to take his love for analytics and predictions, and his experience, to online sports fans everywhere. James is now an integral part of our team here at StatSalt and has also been a very successful sports bettor over the years. Be sure and follow him daily.