It’s been a wild few weeks for the Oakland Raiders, but the team will look to put the drama behind them for a divisional matchup against the Denver Broncos to close out the first week of the NFL season on Monday Night Football.
Denver is a 2.5-point road favorite in the game, with a total of 42, according to Odds Shark.
Here are a few things to know and advice on who to back in this one.
Broncos Have a Great Track Record in Openers
The Broncos have been one of the league’s best team during opening week. Denver has a 39-19-1 record in the first game of the season and have won their last seven despite a mishmash of coaches and starting quarterbacks.
The latest head coach-QB combo in Denver features first-year skipper Vic Fangio and veteran QB Joe Flacco, who the team traded for in the offseason.
Fangio knows the Raiders have endured quite he crazy few weeks with their Antonio Brown saga,
“We just have to go out there and play their team,” he said. “They have a good team. They’ve made a lot of revisions to their team with a lot of acquisitions from the draft and free agency. It’s going to be a hell of a test out there for us.”
Bradley Chubb and Von Miller lead the Broncos feared pass-rush attack, which could have a huge impact on the game.
“We all know how Derek Carr is when you can protect him, he can go through the reads and he feels comfortable back there,” Denver edge rusher Von Miller told The Associated Press. “He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league if he can do that.”
Raiders Have Been Hammered by Preseason Drama
It’s hard to talk about the Raiders without mentioning the incident that made them the center of the sports world.
A long drawn out situation with Brown, the Raiders finally decided to cut the temperamental wide receiver just a few days before there first game.
Brown would have been a huge addition to a Raiders offense that struggled last season, finishing 4-12 and in the basement of the AFC West.
In each of the last six seasons, Brow totaled over 1,250 yards and 100 catches, but will play in New England next season on a one-year deal opposed to Oakland.
Here’s a recap of some of the most notable moments the last week.
- Sept. 4: Brown gets on Instagram and speaks on the fines he received from the Raiders. At practice, he gets into a heated confrontation with Mayock, allegedly calling him a “cracker.”
- Sept. 5: Reports begin to surface that the Raiders are going to suspend Brown for Week 1. Mayock gives a very short statement, saying: “I don’t have any more information for you right now, and when I have some and it becomes appropriate, you guys all get it. I promise you. But that’s it for today.”
- Sept. 6: Brown returns to the Raiders facility, gives a tearful apology to his teammates and all seems back on track for him to play in Week 1. However, that night Brown posts a dramatic video of his phone call with head coach Jon Gruden.
- Sept 7: The Raiders fine Brown more than $215,000 for conduct detrimental to the team. With the move, ESPN reported that the Raiders voided Brown’s $29.125 million worth of guaranteed money. Brown says there is “no way” he plays after losing the guarantees. Brown asks for his release via Instagram and is shortly granted his wish. Quickly after, the Patriots sign Brown to a one-year deal worth up $15 million with a $9 million signing bonus.
On the field, Brown’s departure leaves the Raiders looking at Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson and Hunter Renfrow as their top three pass-catchers. Nelson is questionable for the contest against the Broncos.
The Raiders are pretty thin on the offensive line as well, with Richie Incognito suspended and Gabe Jackson, which could cause a big problem with Miller, Chubb and the rest of the Broncos looking to keep Carr off balance.
Raiders vs Broncos: Pick & Prediction
If Carr finds himself on the run from Miller, Chubb and Co. this could be a long night for the Raiders.
Outside of Brown — who is now gone — Oakland did not make a slew of offseason splashes to show that they’re ready to improve drastically from a year ago. There’s a chance the team rallies around its current situation, or it could cause an implosion.
The Broncos aren’t expected to shatter expectations either this year, and have a modest win total for the season at seven.
However, there’s more talent on the Denver side of the ball with the likes of Pro Bowlers Miller, Chris Harris Jr., Phillip Lindsay and the additions of a strong, defensive minded skipper like Fangio and a veteran QB presence in Flacco could go a long way this season.
Take the Broncos as road favorites in this one.
Pick: Broncos -2.5
Total: Under 42
Prediction: Denver 24, Oakland 10