Denver Broncos (3-5) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)
Spread: Raiders -3.5, -104 (FanDuel)
If the Denver Broncos plan on making the playoffs, they absolutely need to knock off the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium. This marks the first of two games between these two AFC West rivals, with the second coming in Week 17. That game won’t matter much for the Broncos if they can’t put a stop to Las Vegas’ two-game winning streak. A loss this week would put the Broncos three games back of second in the division.
The Raiders opened up as minus-3.5 favorites last week and were -4.5 favorites at one point, but the line has come back down to -3.5 as we head closer to kickoff. Denver can definitely hang around in this contest, but it will need a complete game from Drew Lock, who has started slowly each of his past two contests.
Lock set a career-high in passing yards in Week 9 with 313, but he also threw the ball a career-high 48 times. He accounted for three touchdowns for the second straight week, including a rushing score, his second in his past three games. He also had a career-high 47 rushing yards in the 34-27 loss in Atlanta. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, he threw his sixth interception in the past four games. This is another matchup he can take advantage of though as the Raiders have allowed the seventh-most passing yards per game and they rank 26th in pass defense (defense-adjusted value over average). Look for Jerry Jeudy to build off last week’s career game (more on him below).
It’s also a great opportunity for Melvin Gordon or Phillip Lindsay to step up and take control of the backfield as Las Vegas has surrendered a league-high 13 rushing touchdowns and it ranks 32nd in rush defense DVOA. Lindsay and Gordon have only played four games together this season, and last week marked the first time Lindsay finished with more carries than Gordon. He had eight to Gordon’s six, and it could be a sign of things to come as the third-year pro has finished with more rushing yards than Gordon in three straight games, despite having fewer carries over that span (23 to Gordon’s 31).
While the Broncos have the edge on defense, the Raiders clearly have the advantage on offense. Las Vegas ranks ninth in passing offense and 14th overall, while the Broncos rank 29th in passing offense and 30th overall. Everything in Las Vegas runs through Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. Jacobs ranks second in the NFL in rushing attempts with 161 and Waller ranks second among tight ends in targets with 72. Those two, along with Derek Carr’s efficiency (69.8% completion percentage, 16:2 TD:INT) will be the difference in the game.
Prediction: 28-24, Las Vegas
We were on Jeudy’s 3.5-catch prop last week; it jumped only to 4.5 this week despite a seven-catch performance in Week 9. The rookie set career-highs in catches and yards (125) last week. He has 11 grabs on 24 targets for 198 yards in his past two games. According to our free air-yards tool at FTN, Jeudy leads the NFL in air-yards since Week 8 with 355. He also leads all wide receivers (minimum 13 targets) in average depth of target over that span (14.79 yards). Jeudy has received 49% of Lock’s targets over the past couple of games (third-highest), and this is a great matchup to add to that number.
Darren Waller OVER 5.5 Receptions, +100 (BetMGM)
Waller has at least six targets in seven of his eight games this season and he’s averaging 8.8 per game over his past five contests. Waller has 27.5% of his team’s targets, which ranks fourth in the NFL. Denver has allowed the eighth-most catches per game (5.5) to the TE position, so Waller will indeed be a handful for the Broncos.