Denver @ Oakland
Vegas: OAK +2.5
DomModel: OAK +9.355
Recommendation: DEN -2.5
-WR Emmanuel Sanders (Achilles) was injured in practice on 12/5. He is on IR.
-TE Jeff Heuerman (broken ribs/bruised lung) was injured week 12 and is on IR.
-LG Ron Leary (torn Achilles) was injured week 6 and is on IR.
-LG Max Garcia (knee) was placed on IR on 11/21.
-C Matt Paradis (leg) was injured week 9 and is on IR.
-LB Shaquil Barrett (hip) was INACTIVE weeks 13 – 15. He was limited in practice Thursday and Friday.
-CB Chris Harris (leg) was injured week 13. The hope for the Broncos is he’ll be back for the playoffs.
-WR Martavis Bryant (knee) was injured week 10. He was placed on IR 12/5.
-WR Brandon LaFell (Achilles) was injured week 11. He is on IR.
-RB Marshawn Lynch (groin) is on IR, effective 10/22.
-RG Gabe Jackson (elbow/ankle) was placed on IR 12/18.
-LG Kelechi Osemele (toe) was INACTIVE weeks 14 and 15. He practiced in full on Thursday and Friday. He should return week 16.
-DT Maurice Hurst (ankle) did not practice on Thursday and Friday.
-DI Justin Ellis (foot) was added to IR.
-CB Leon Hall (back) was placed on IR 12/5.
-CB Gareon Conley (concussion) was injured week 15. We was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday.
-CB Daryl Worley (shoulder) did not practice on Thursday and Friday.
-K Mike Nugent went on IR.
When Denver has the ball:
Nothing can go right for the Broncos passing offense. They entered the season with what appeared to be a 3 headed monster at wide receiver –Veterans Demaryius Thomas and Emannuel Sanders would handle the top two spots while Courtland Sutton, who the Broncos had just taken in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, would be an ideal third man. The Broncos were so confident in Sutton that they traded Thomas to the Texans. Shortly after, Sanders tore his achilles in practice. Meanwhile, Sutton has been unable to get going. Since the Sanders injury, the leading receivers have been DaeSean Hamilton (2018 4th round selection) and Tim Patrick (2017 UDFA).
And we haven’t even talked about quarterback yet. In the offseason, the Broncos signed Case Keenum, who was fresh off a productive season with the Vikings. Keenum has been subpar at best – posting a 62.1% completion percentage with a pedestrian 6.8 yards per attempt and almost as many interceptions (12) as touchdowns (15). The Broncos offensive line has also been decimated with injuries (see above). Add all that together and it’s no surprise the Broncos rank 22nd in offensive DVOA.
BUT WAIT! There is good news. In this one, it’s the opponent. The Raiders “defense” ranks 30th in pass defense DVOA. They still don’t have anybody on the roster with 30 pressures on the season (that’s bad) and their top cornerback, Daryl Worley, is in danger of missing this game with a shoulder injury (that’s also bad). That’s not even to say that Worley is worthy of being a top corner anyway – he’s surrendered a 111.9 QB rating when targeted (that’s a big number). To put it as nicely as I can, this pass defense is a god damn joke, it should be lit on fire* and should never be allowed to be within 1,000 feet of a football field.
If you can indulge me with some 2018 running game discussion – rookie UDFA Phillip Lindsay has had a stellar season. He’s 9 yards away from a 1,000 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry with 9 touchdowns. He’s every bit deserving of being elected to the pro bowl — not a lot of pro bowlers this year can claim that. He’s lead the Broncos to being highly rated in just about every rushing offensive metric you can find, and he’s facing a Raiders run defense that ranks 27 in DVOA.
*I mean this metaphorically only. We at FirstAndThirty have a VERY strict “No Lighting Human Beings on Fire” policy.
TL;DR Conclusion: Nothing has gone right for the Broncos pass offense this year, but they’re facing one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Meanwhile, pro bowler Phillip Lindsay has been phenomenal. If the Broncos can get out to a lead, they shouldn’t have difficulty killing clock with Lindsay.
When Oakland has the ball:
The Raiders offense was built with names that were REALLY good in 2014 – the exact year when HC Jon Gruden stopped paying attention to football.
I will give Derek Carr some credit, though. He’s behind an offensive line that’s playing horrible, partially because they’ve had to deal with tons of injuries throughout the season. He deals with this via quick releases – his average time to throw is just 2.44 seconds, 5th fastest in the league. The problem is the Raiders receivers simply aren’t good at all. Carr’s two most targeted receivers so far this year are a tight end (Jared Cook) and a running back (Jalen Richard) who only plays on 40% of snaps. They traded away their top receiving option in Amari Cooper, who had been nothing but inconsistent with the Raiders and has since been nothing but fantastic with the Cowboys. The result for Carr and the Raiders passing offense has been inconsistent play. Meanwhile, the Broncos pass defense ranks 3rd in DVOA. They have one of the better pass rushing duos in football – Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb are both over 50 pressures with 16 and 13 sacks, respectively. They have, however, struggled with consistent play in the secondary and are still without their top corner Chris Harris.
On the ground, the Raiders rank 30th in rushing offense DVOA. It’s particularly been a problem since they lost Marshawn Lynch in late October. Denver ranks 11th in run defense DVOA – so it’s not the strongest part of their defense, but it should be good enough to get the job done.
TL:DR Conclusion: To put it simply, the Broncos defense is leaps and bounds in front of the Raiders offense. With this being a Monday Night Game, I’m looking forward to being on the edge of my seat after we inevitably go 1-1 in the Sunday games.
That’s it for now, bitches.