Monday Night Football News and Notes
Monday Night Football News and Notes
Monday Night Football preview: Action moves both lines
By T.O. WHENHAM
Monday nights are all about football, and this Monday is going to be twice the fun thanks to two games. Minnesota visits a strangely Favre-less Green Bay in early action, and Denver travels to the new center of NFL futility to play the Raiders later on. Fans of all four teams have to be nervous - they all have the potential to be decent, or it could be a long season for any of them.
They all have new faces, or the absence of old ones, that will force new realities on aspects of their games. With the exception of Green Bay, the teams all struggled against the spread last year and would surely please bettors if they were a bit more reliable.
Minnesota (+1) at Green Bay
This game opened up as essentially a pick 'em - Green Bay's three point favoritism reflected their home field advantage. Bettors weren't buying it. More than 60 percent of bets have been laid on the Vikings, and the line has moved two points. This game is a good example of why handicapping isn't easy. Green Bay was very good last year, but you might not have heard of ther low profile quarterback change.
Aaron Rodgers take the reins. He's never made a start, has spent three years glued to a bench so he'll almost certainly be rusty in the face of game speed, and he has a bad habit of getting injured. It would seem easy to pick against him. Except that Minnesota's QB picture isn't exactly rosy, either - even if their starter, Tarvaris Jackson, was healthy he'd be hard to completely trust. On top of that, left tackle Bryant McKinnie gets to spend four weeks on the sidelines thinking about how stupid it was to get in a street fight outside a bar. The Vikings might as well pull a fan out of the stands to fill that key spot given their roster options, and it could get ugly.
Given the questions for both offenses, bettors aren't expecting a shootout. The total of 38 is the third lowest of the week, yet two-thirds of bettors have taken the under.
Denver (-3) at Oakland
This game has also seen a two point line move. Denver opened up as lukewarm one point favorites, but bettors didn't feel that that gave them enough credit. Action is slightly unbalanced in favor of the Broncos, with about 57 percent of bets going their way. Denver isn't one of the most exciting teams in the league right now, but it's much easier to know what you have with them than with the Raiders.
Oakland should be able to run thanks to the addition of rookie freak Darren McFadden, but passing could be a struggle as JaMarcus Russell takes over as the unquestioned main man and has to come to terms with the fact that his receiving corps is, well, lacking. Add to that a ridiculous coaching drama that is certain to end badly, and some stunningly incomprehensible personnel moves, and you have a lot of reasons not to trust the Raiders with your bankroll.
The biggest challenge will be finding ways to stay interested in the Broncos, a team that seems determined to redefine the word average. The total here is hovering around the level of 41 points, and more than 70 percent of bettors are enthusiastically leaping at the under.
Re: Monday Night Football News and Notes
Monday Night Tip Sheet
By Brad Young
The pro football regular season has kicked off, and is celebrating its opening weekend with two games for Monday Night Football. Two divisional games get the opening-night treatment, with Minnesota visiting Green Bay in a NFC North contest while the nightcap features the AFC West with Denver visiting Oakland.
Now let’s take a closer look at both contests.
**Vikings at Packers**
-Caesars Palace currently has Green Bay as a 2½-point home ‘chalk’ over Minnesota, with the total set at 38. The line opened with the Packers favored by a field goal, with the total listed at 38½. This NFC North matchup is scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. ET, with ESPN providing coverage.
-Minnesota (8-8 straight up, 7-7 against the spread) went 3-5 SU and 3-3 ATS last season on the road, with the ‘under’ going 5-2. The Vikings finished second in the NFC North last season behind Green Bay, but failed to reach the postseason.
-Minnesota had won five games in a row SU before losing its last two games to miss the playoffs, including a Week 17 overtime setback at Denver.
-Second-year running back Adrian Peterson hopes to repeat his stellar rookie campaign after rushing for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns.
-The Vikings are a dismal 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS the past two years against Green Bay after getting swept last season. The Packers prevailed as a 1½-point road ‘chalk,’ 23-16, and as a 5½-point home favorite, 34-0. The ‘under’ is 5-2 the last seven games in this series.
-Green Bay (13-3 SU, 12-3 ATS) has been a team in transition since losing last year’s NFC Championship Game at home in overtime to New York. The whole Brett Favre saga is in the rear-view mirror, and now is the beginning of the Aaron Rodgers era at Lambeau Field. The four-year veteran has seen limited duty as a backup behind a quarterback who always played.
-The Packers went 7-1 SU and 6-1 ATS last season at home, with the ‘over’ going 5-3. Green Bay was favored in seven of those games, winning the lone time as an underdog against Philadelphia in Week 1 as a 3 ½-point ‘dog, 16-13.
-The ‘over’ was 6-0-1 for the Packers the last seven weeks of the regular season, but it will be interesting to see how good the offense remains with a new quarterback. Green Bay and Minnesota figure to battle atop the NFC North standings once again.
-Minnesota quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (knee), wide receiver Robert Ferguson (leg), wide receiver Bernard Berrian (toe) and wide receiver Sidney Rice (illness) are ‘probable’ against the Packers, while running back Maurice Hicks (foot) is ‘doubtful.’ Defensive end Kenechi Udeze (illness), safety Madieu Williams (neck) and offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie (suspension) are ‘out.’
-Green Bay free safety Nick Collins (head), defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee), defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (hamstring), strong safety Atari Bigby (ankle), linebacker A.J. Hawk (chest) are ‘probable’ against the Vikings, while center Scott Wells (side), offensive guard Josh Sitton (knee), wide receiver James Jones (knee) and defensive tackle Justin Harrell (back) are ‘doubtful.’
**Broncos at Raiders**
-Caesars Palace lists Denver as a three-point road favorite over Oakland, with the total set at 41. The Broncos opened as a two-point ‘chalk,’ with the total set at 41½. ESPN will provide coverage of this AFC West contest beginning at 10:15 p.m. ET.
-Denver (7-9 SU, 5-11 ATS) struggled last season to a 2-6 SU and 1-7 ATS road record, with the ‘over’ going 5-3. The Broncos were 0-3 as a road ‘chalk,’ and 1-4 ATS when playing on natural grass.
-Denver finished in second place in the AFC West, four games behind San Diego and three games ahead of both Oakland and Kansas City. The Broncos almost reached the .500 plateau despite being outscored by opponents, 409-320.
-Denver was knocked out of the postseason chase by losing four of five SU and ATS late in the season before a season-ending overtime victory over Minnesota, 22-19. Quarterback Jay Cutler starts his third season with the Broncos after completing 63.6 percent of his passes last season for 3,497 yards with 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
-Oakland (4-12 SU, 6-10 ATS) had two two-game winning streaks last season, but also suffered through a six-game and four-game losing skid. The Raiders were a dismal 2-6 SU and ATS at home last year, going 2-2 ATS when listed as a home ‘dog.
-Oakland is just 1-3 SU the last four meetings with Denver, but 4-0 ATS. These two rivals split their season-series last year, with the home team prevailing each time. Denver triumphed in overtime as a 10-point home ‘chalk,’ 23-20, while the Raiders won as a 3 ½-point home ‘dog, 34-20. The ‘over’ cashed in both of those contests.
-Denver tight end Daniel Graham (hamstring), safety Marquand Manuel (hand), defensive line Ebenezer Ekuban (back), wide receiver Darrell Jackson (ankle), linebacker Boss Bailey (ankle) and strong safety Hamza Abdullah (groin) are ‘probable’ against the Raiders, while defensive tackle Carlton Powell (knee), center Tom Nalen (knee) and running back Ryan Torain (elbow) are ‘out.’
-Oakland offensive tackle Kwame Harris (shoulder) and wide receiver Javon Walker (hamstring) are ‘probable’ versus the Broncos.
Re: Monday Night Football News and Notes
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
Oddsmakers currently have the Packers listed as 2-point favorites versus the Vikings, while the game's total is sitting at 38.
Minnesota: 8-8 SU, 7-7-2 ATS
Green Bay: 13-3 SU, 12-3-1 ATS
Minnesota most recently:
When playing in September are 4-6
When playing on grass are 3-7
After being outgained are 5-5
When playing within the division are 4-6
Green Bay most recently:
When playing in September are 5-5
When playing on grass are 8-2
After being outgained are 6-4
When playing within the division are 8-2
A few trends to consider:
Minnesota is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games when playing on the road against Green Bay
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Minnesota's last 5 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Minnesota's last 5 games when playing on the road against Green Bay
Minnesota is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Green Bay's last 5 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 8 of Green Bay's last 9 games
Green Bay is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games at home
Green Bay is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games at home
Minnesota home to Indianapolis, Sunday, September 14
Green Bay at Detroit, Sunday, September 14
Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders
Oddsmakers currently have the Broncos listed as 3-point favorites versus the Raiders, while the game's total is sitting at 41.
Denver: 7-9 SU, 5-11 ATS
Oakland: 4-12 SU, 6-10 ATS
Denver most recently:
When playing in September are 6-4
When playing on grass are 5-5
After outgaining opponent are 4-6
When playing within the division are 4-6
Oakland most recently:
When playing in September are 3-7
When playing on grass are 2-8
After outgaining opponent are 3-7
When playing within the division are 2-8
A few trends to consider:
Denver is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Oakland
Denver is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Oakland
The total has gone OVER in 15 of Denver's last 21 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Denver's last 7 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Oakland's last 7 games
Oakland is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Denver
The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Oakland's last 13 games when playing Denver
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Oakland's last 6 games when playing at home against Denver
Denver home to San Diego, Sunday, September 14
Oakland at Kansas City, Sunday, September 14
Re: Monday Night Football News and Notes
INDIAN COWBOY'S NFL RESEARCH
Minny vs. Green Bay
Note that Tavaris Jackson is probable for this ballgame and Grant is also listed as probable for the Packers. If you remember, Green Bay covered against Minny both times last year including the last game they played against them at home in which they won 34-0. Note, that Green Bay was 1-3 in the preseason and they lost to the Bengals and the Titans at home. It's frankly amazing to see a line that opened up at -3 and now has gone to -1 in favor of the Packers as the public is all over the Vikings to a tune of 2:1. But, can one really justify betting on the Packers with a quarterback that has underperformed thus far? Or, can one really justify taking the Vikings with a quarterback like T. Jackson? The point is, I don't trust either of these QB's to put any hard on earned money on the likes of Jackson or Rodgers. In essence, don't bet for the sake of betting, but rather, bet, with a clear edge to make profit, if you don't have it, let it go.
Denver vs. Oakland
This line has significantly gone up in favor of Denver considering that it opened up at -1 and now has moved up to -3. Keep in mind though that I don't think too much of the public is aware of the fact that Denver's 3 wide receivers likely will not play in this ballgame - Marshall (questionable), Walker (out with suspension) and Walker is listed as Questionable as well. Thus, given that Oakland has a great rush defense from last year, and the passing attack for Denver will likely not be optimal, this could favor the under or a possible an outright Oakland win. I know over 60% of the public is riding Denver here on the road, but the Black Hole is a very tough place to play for any team, remember the Steelers lost at Oakland last year as -9.5 favorites as Oakland won that game outright. Oakland didn't look overly impressive in their preseason games however, and I still don't trust this offense although I do like their defense very much. If anything, a lean on the under here, but I trust neither of these teams.
Re: Monday Night Football News and Notes
Denver (-3.0) 23 OAKLAND 19
The Broncos out-gained their opponents 5.8 yards per play to 5.5 yppl and were +1 in turnover margin, yet somehow were out-scored by 5.6 points per game. With a good offense and a defense that should be improved the Broncos should go from a disappointing 7-9 to 9-7 or 10-6 this season. Quarterback Jay Cutler blossomed in his first full season as the starting quarterback, averaging 6.8 yards per pass play against teams that would allow 5.9 yppp to an average quarterback, and he should be at least as good this season once top target WR Brandon Marshall serves his one game suspension. The Broncos continued their tradition of finding running backs to fit their zone blocking scheme, as Selvin Young ran for 729 yards at 5.2 ypr while backing up a less effective Travis Henry (4.1 ypr), who is no longer with the team. Young will get the bulk of the carries this season and, while he probably won’t average 5.2 ypr again, he should have a very good season. The Broncos should once again average about 5.8 yppl on offense, which ranks them in the top 10 in the league.
While the offense should remain good, the defense is likely to go from poor to slightly better than average this season now that ineffective safeties John Lynch and Nick Ferguson are off the team. Lynch was a great player for many years, but his level of play dropped off severely last season against the pass (although his run defense was still good). Ferguson was replaced in the starting lineup in week 10 by Hamza Abdullah, who played exceptionally well as a starter and helped revive the Broncos’ pass defense. Denver allowed 7.4 yards per pass play in their first 8 games with Ferguson at strong safety (against teams that would average 6.5 yppp against an average team), but the Broncos yielded just 5.5 yppp in their final 8 games (to teams that would average 5.7 yppp) in their final 8 games with Abdullah starting. Abdullah is a very fast safety and his presence in the lineup allowed cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Dre Bly to play more bump and run coverage rather than wasting their good man-to-man skills in zone defenses. I expect the Broncos to continue to defend the pass well with Abdullah at free safety. The run defense also got a little better over the second half of the season, but the Broncos were still 0.3 ypr worse than average against the run. That number should improve with Boss Bailey being signed to take the place of the ineffective Ian Gold at linebacker and having D.J. Williams move to the outside should also help the defense since he wasn’t big enough to defend the run well from the middle linebacker spot. Denver has the pieces to be a slightly better than average defense this season.
The Broncos had an off year in special teams, but I think they’ll be pretty good in that area this season with improved punting and much better kickoffs with Matt Prater booming the ball into the endzone. Prater also will be the field goal kicker, which is a negative, but his overall value should be positive. Denver is a better than average team that should be in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race.
The Raiders were just 4-12 last season and I don’t see too much improvement from them this season. Oakland had plenty of needs in the draft and running back was certainly not one of them with Justin Fargas coming off a good season and good depth behind him. I’m sure Darrin McFadden is going to be a great player, but giving the ball to McFadden instead of giving it to Fargas isn’t going to help the team as much as a run-stuffing defensive tackle or a good receiver would have. The Raiders certainly look like a very good running team, but quarterback JaMarcus Russell doesn’t appear ready to have success through the air, especially given his sorry receiving corps. Russell averaged only 4.6 yards per pass play on 72 pass plays last season (against teams that would allow 5.6 yppp to an average quarterback) and he looked horrible in the preseason – completing only 52% of his passes and averaging a pathetic 3.2 yards on 56 pass plays. Ronald Curry is a pretty reliable receiver, but Jevon Walker is well past his prime and signing him to a free agent deal looks like a waste of money. Walker averaged only 5.7 yards per pass thrown to him last season (horrible for a wide receiver) despite having a better than average quarterback in Denver. Walker spent most of the preseason simply going through the motions and dropping passes before finally catching a few in the 3rd preseason game. That 3rd preseason game is the one in which teams generally play their starters for at least the first half and the Raiders were shutout in that game 0-24 by Arizona – which could be an omen of things to come this season. I expect the Raiders to have the worst pass attack in the NFL this season and their good running will not overcome that deficiency.
Oakland looks a lot like the 2006 version, which featured a horrible offense and a pretty good defense. The Raiders were bad defensively last season, allowing 5.9 yards per play to teams that would average 5.4 yppl against an average team. The run defense was particularly bad, as Oakland gave up 5.0 ypr, but it should be improved this season with strong safety Gibril Wilson being brought in via free agency. Wilson was great in run support for the Giants last season and is a major upgrade over Michael Huff, who is being moved to his more natural free safety position. Huff’s move to free safety will help the pass defense, as he’ll be much better than Stuart Schweigert was after Schweighert gave up 12.0 yards per pass thrown to his man. Wilson is also pretty good in pass defense and bringing in DeAngelo Hall from Atlanta gives the Raiders a solid #2 cornerback to team with Nnamdi Asomugha, who is among the top 3 or 4 cornerbacks in the NFL. Asomugha only allowed 5.8 yards per pass attempted against him, which ranked 4th among cornerbacks last season, but teams simply threw away from his side of the field. With Hall (7.2 ypa allowed) taking over for Fabian Washington, who allowed 9.6 ypa, opposing teams won’t simply be able to throw away from Asomugha. The Raiders now have one of the NFL’s best secondaries and I expect their pass defense to go from bad to solidly better than average this season. The run defense will remain poor, but it should be much better than last season.
I rate the Raiders as the 3rd worst team in the NFL starting the season, but they could move up significantly if Russell can somehow find a way to move the ball through the air at a respectable rate.
My ratings favor Denver by 4 points in this game, so I’ll lean slightly with the Broncos at -3 or less.
GREEN BAY (-2.0) 21 Minnesota 19
There is a lot of excitement in Minnesota this summer, as fans anticipate what they believe will be a Vikings team that will make a run into the playoffs. Those fans are probably right, as the Vikes added All-Pro DE Jared Allen to an already star studded defensive line to make the Vikings defense amongst the best in the NFL. The Vikings have two of the league’s best defensive tackles in Pat Williams and Kevin Williams and teams have simply stopped trying to run the ball against them. Last season the Vikes allowed just 3.2 ypr and opponents only tried running the ball 35% of the time, which is well below the NFL average of 43% running plays. The pass defense was slightly worse than average, allowing 6.2 yards per pass play to teams that would combine to average 6.1 yppp against an average team, and Minnesota’s defense overall was only 0.2 yards per play better than average since teams threw the ball so often against them. To discourage teams from throwing so often the Vikings traded for Allen, who registered 15.5 sacks for Kansas City last season in just 12 games. With opposing teams having to worry about the two Williams’ inside, Allen may see less double teaming and his sacks totals could be even better (especially if teams continue to average 43 pass plays per game against Minnesota. I actually don’t expect Allen’s sack rate to be as high as it was last season, but his sack total could be higher and his contribution to the pass defense should be about 0.4 yppp – which would make the Vikings a better than average while also leading to more interceptions.
Minnesota’s offense revolves around second year back Adrian Peterson, who averaged an incredible 5.6 ypr while backup Chester Taylor ran for 848 yards at 5.4 ypr. I don’t expect either to keep up those high averages, but the Vikings should still average about 5 yards per rush this season. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson wasn’t asked to do much, but he posted pretty decent numbers for a first time starter, averaging 6.0 yards per pass play against teams that would allow 6.2 yppp to an average QB. Jackson should improve in his second full season as the starter and adding WR Bernard Berrian upgrades the receiving corps. Jackson needs to cut down on his interception rate, but it’s not a huge problem since the Vikings don’t throw the ball as much as most teams. Minnesota should once again be an above average offensive team, but I don’t think they’ll be quite as good as last year’s attack, which averaged 5.7 yards per play (against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl).
Minnesota was better than average in special teams last season, but they should probably regress towards the middle of the pack in that area this season. The Vikings were a better than average team last season and they’re likely to be even better in 2008 thanks to a defense that should be even better than last year’s fine unit.
The Packers start the post-Favre era with a huge Monday night clash with bitter rival Minnesota in Lambeau Field and it should be a fun game to watch. The Packers brass believes so much in Aaron Rodgers that they didn’t want Brett Favre back when he decided to un-retire, and Rodgers looked good last season against a very good Dallas defense (6.3 yards per pass play against a Dallas defense that would allow just 5.0 yppp at home to an average quarterback). Rodgers has also looked pretty sharp in the preseason, completing 68.5% of his passes for 8.1 yards per attempt on just 1 interception on 54 pass attempts. Rodgers does tend to hold onto the ball too long, which resulted in 3 sacks against Dallas last season and 7 sacks on 61 pass plays this summer, but I still rate the Packers’ pass attack as better than average heading into the season with plenty of upside potential. The Packers averaged 4.7 ypr after Ryan Grant became the main running back in week 4 of last season, but his numbers will probably regress a bit with opponents more focused on him this season. The Packers were a very good offensive team last season, averaging 6.4 yards per play from week 4 on against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl to an average team. I’ll rate the Packers at just 0.4 yppl better than average offensively to start this season, but I’m being conservative in rating Rodgers so they could easily be better.
The Packers’ defense was only 0.2 yppl better than average last season (5.0 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.2 yppl against an average team) and I actually think that unit could get a bit worse this season with an aging secondary and the loss of DT Corey Williams, who registered 7 sacks in limited action after taking over for an injured Johnny Jolly. Jolly doesn’t figure to provide the pass rush that Williams did and the pass defense could suffer some. The Packers should still be a bit better than average. Green Bay’s special teams should also be better than average again this season and I expect the Packers to win anywhere between 9 games and 11 games depending on how well Rodgers plays.
My rating favor the Packers by 2 ½ points in this game, so I have no opinion on this game.
Re: Monday Night Football News and Notes
Minnesota at Green Bay
The post-Brett Favre era begins at Lambeau Field in Green Bay when the Packers host the rival Vikings in a season-opening battle between teams thinking they have a chance at the NFC North title.
Green Bay (13-3, 12-3-1 ATS in 2007) made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game last year, losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants 23-20 in overtime as a nine-point favorite. Favre retired two months after the defeat before un-retiring in July and being traded to the Jets. That leaves the offense in the hands of Aaron Rodgers, the first quarterback since 1992 to start a game for the Packers other than Favre.
Rodgers has attempted just 59 passes in his career and has just one TD pass, but he’s got some weapons at WR in Donald Driver and Greg Jennings who both had more than 900 yards receiving a year ago with Jennings catching 12 TD passes. However, it’s the defense that could carry Mike McCarthy’s squad, led by defensive-line anchor Aaron Kampman whose 27½ sacks is the most of the NFC in the last two seasons. Overall, the Packers’ defense ranked second in the NFL last year, giving up 18.2 points a game.
The Vikings (8-8 SU, 7-7-2 ATS) struggled down the stretch last season, losing their final two games to the Redskins (32-21 as six-point favorites) and at Denver (22-19 in overtime as three-point favorites) to cost themselves a playoff spot. Those two losses followed a five-game winning streak (4-1 ATS).
Minnesota certainly relies heavily on its defense and has added pro-bowler Jared Allen and his 15½ sacks to the defensive line to go along with Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Brad Childress’ offense is led by third-year QB Tarvaris Jackson, who has thrown more INTs (16) than TDs (11) in his 14 career starts, and RB Adrian Peterson, who ran for 1,341 yards and 13 TDs in his rookie campaign last year.
Minnesota is on ATS runs of 11-5-1 against the NFC North rivals, 5-1 in season openers and 5-1-2 in September contests. Meanwhile, Green Bay is on ATS streaks of 16-5-1 overall, 13-6-1 on Mondays, 8-3 against division foes, 5-1 at home and 5-0 in September kickoffs.
Green Bay has won four straight over the Vikings (3-1 ATS) and seven of the last 10 series clashes (5-5 ATS). The underdog owns a 16-5 ATS advantage in this rivalry over the past decade and the road team has gone 10-2 ATS in the last 12. Last season at Lambeau, the Packers scored a 34-0 blowout victory as a 5½-point chalk. Finally, the straight-up winner is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 in this rivalry.
The under is 6-2-1 in Minnesota’s last nine on the road and 15-6-1 in its last 22 on grass. Meanwhile the over is 8-0 in the Packers’ last eight against NFC competition and 14-3 in their last 17 overall. Lastly, the under is 5-1-1 in this rivalry the last three-plus seasons.
ATS ADVANTAGE: GREEN BAY
Denver at Oakland
A classic AFC West rivalry is renewed on the opening Monday night when the Broncos pay a visit to McAfee Coliseum to take on the Raiders.
Denver (7-9, 5-11 ATS) started strong with consecutive victories last year, but then went on a five-game losing skid and failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season. Broncos’ QB Jay Cutler completed 63.6 percent of his throws in his first full season running the offense and threw for 3,497 yards, 20 TDs and 14 INTs. The biggest change for Mike Shanahan’s squad is the on offensive line, as no starter from a season ago is back to block for RBs Selvin Young and Andre Hall.
Oakland (4-12, 6-10 ATS) endured its fifth consecutive losing campaign in 2007 and now has lost 61 games during this stretch that dates to their appearance in the 2002 Super Bowl. The Raiders will try to turn things around behind QB JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft who takes over a sluggish offense. In his only start last season, Russell went 23-for-31 for 224 yards and a TD in the season finale against San Diego. In the backfield, coach Lane Kiffin has the choice of Justin Fargas (1,009 yards rushing last season) or dynamic rookie Darren McFadden.
The Broncos are on ATS slides of 7-19 overall, 2-10 against AFC West rivals, 0-4 on the highway and 0-4 in September games. Oakland also has been a betting disaster the last five years, sporting ATS skids of 26-54-1 overall, 19-40-1 against the AFC, 8-22 at home, 0-6 on Mondays and 5-11 in September.
These teams split their two matchups a season ago with the home team winning each. Oakland scored a 34-20 win over the Broncos as a 3½-point home ‘dog in December. In fact, the Raiders are 4-0 ATS over the last two seasons against Denver, but they are just 2-8 SU (5-5 ATS) in the last 10, with the straight-up winner going 7-3 ATS in those 10 contests.
For Denver, the over is on runs of 19-7-1 overall, 9-2 against the AFC, 6-1 against the AFC West and 5-2 on the road. For Oakland, the over streaks include 6-1 overall, 4-1 against the AFC and 4-0 in September, but the under is 13-5 in the Raiders’ last 18 against AFC West rivals. Also, the under is 6-1 in the Raiders’ last seven Monday Night appearances, 5-1 in Denver’s last six on Mondays and 9-4 in the past 13 meetings between these rivals.
ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER