On the field, the most recent Jon Gruden era got off to whimper with the Oakland Raiders lay down defeat to the Rams on Monday night. As many times as the coach was shown on the ESPN telecast, you would have thought he still worked for the network. And with Gruden calling the shots, specifically on the Khalil Mack impasse and eventual trade, should we start calling him the GM too? The Raiders and Denver Broncos renew their rivalry from the old AFL days when they get together in Week 2.
Kickoff for this regular season Week 2 game is set for Sunday, September 16, 2018, at 4:25 p.m. ET at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
Oakland Raiders +5.5
Denver Broncos -5.5
We saw the line take a slight tumble from its opening of Denver -6 to its current -5.5 and the wagering is evenly spread, so don’t expect much movement. The Broncos are 2-0 SU and ATS in their last two at home and they’ve won five of the last six meetings at Mile High while going 4-2 ATS in those games. The total was wagered up a half-point to its current 45.5 with 58 percent of the early money backing the over.
Andrew DePaola – Long-snappers are never noticed until they launch a ball over the punter’s head or roll one to the holder. The Raiders are on the lookout for a new snapper after DePaola was lost for the year with a knee injury on Monday, and whoever they bring in will have a short time to work with the other specialists. Field goals and PATs could be an adventure with kicker Mike Nugent and holder Johnny Townsend each in their first year with the team.
Justin Ellis – The Raiders lost two starting defensive linemen to ankle injuries with P.J. Hall joining Ellis in the trainer’s room. Their status for Sunday is in doubt, but given the line’s performance it might be time for Gruden to try something else. The Raiders managed one sack, which was more Jared Goff’s fault, and only five pressures the entire game. There’s a good chance we see Tank Carradine against the Broncos after he was deactivated Monday.
Matchup to Watch
Some were wondering after Monday’s game if Derek Carr became a little tentative in the pocket against the Rams pass rush. He was sacked once, but was under constant pressure in the second half when the Rams caved the pocket. And Carr had dealt with injuries the last two seasons, so that was likely on his mind. He made a horrible decision on the second of his three interceptions, chucking a ball to the sideline when the pressure started to mount.
Carr better not be gun shy since he has to face Von Miller and the Broncos relentless pass rush on Sunday. Miller had a monster game even by his standards to help take down Seattle. He posted the fifth three-sack game of his career and added two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and seven tackles in the 27-24 win. The Broncos totaled six sacks of Russell Wilson and limited Seattle to only 64 yards on the ground.
Player to Watch
One way to alleviate a fierce pass rush is to effectively run the football. The Raiders will look to Marshawn Lynch to slow down the Broncos defense. The Raiders easily moved the ball in the first half of Monday’s game, totaling 254 yards with Lynch and Doug Martin combining for 41 of the team’s 55 yards on the ground.
It was a different story in the second half, though. Oakland couldn’t push the line and once the lead disappeared, so did the rush attempts. Lynch had four of the Raiders eight second-half rush attempts, totaling 41 yards and a touchdown with a 3.7 yards per carry average. Lynch has to have success running the ball or Carr becomes fair game.
Free ATS Pick
Oakland will feel the loss of Mack for some time, especially after watching what he did on Sunday night. He’s a defensive playmaker like Miller and without him the Raiders applied no pressure on Goff, getting riddled by the Rams in the second half. Meanwhile, Miller was wreaking havoc on the Seahawks.
I fully expect Gruden to make adjustments and outcoach Vance Joseph in this game. And facing Case Keenum isn’t nearly as daunting as Goff. Carr will bounce back, the Raiders will use Lynch to set up some shots to Amari Cooper and Oakland will get a big road win.
NFL Betting Odds: Raiders 23, Broncos 20
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