Broncos vs. Raiders NFL Week 16 Preview and Best Bet

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Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Denver Broncos. Justin Edmonds/Getty Images/AFP

Denver and Las Vegas meet in an AFC West showdown. Here is betting advice for the game. Top sportsbooks have released their NFL odds for Sunday’s game between Denver and Las Vegas. Both teams are 7-7, but for different reasons: Denver is coming off a close loss, Las Vegas is off a last-second win.

This game is crucial because 7-7 pits both teams in the hunt for a wild card spot. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for this game.

Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Sunday, December 26, 2021- 4:25 PM EST at Allegiant Stadium

Las Vegas' Offensive Regression

Since big-play speedster Henry Ruggs departed from the team, the Raider offense has suffered a serious regression. In the seven games with Ruggs on the field, Las Vegas scored over 25 points five times.

Since then, the Raiders have failed to reach this number six times. In fact, they failed to reach 17 points in all six of those games. Losing tight end Darren Waller, an athletic freak who's physical skill set offers magnificent downfield potential, has only further hurt the offense.

Waller is the team's second-leading receiver. While he's listed as 'questionable' for this game, it seems unlikely that he'll play because he failed to participate in Wednesday's practice.

Lack of Weapons

Las Vegas' lack of weapons on offense extends to its rush attack, which ranks 29th in rush yards per game. Throughout the season, problems especially in the team's interior line have limited its ability to create space and running lanes for Josh Jacobs.

This dearth of running ability deleteriously complements the offense's lack of vertical potential. By necessity, the Raiders are very pass-heavy. They own the third-highest pass-play percentage. Keep this stat in mind for your sports betting. But now they have to rely heavily on Hunter Renfrow, whose strong usage rate situates him as Las Vegas' leading wide receiver.

Given his subpar speed and his lack of size at 5-10, he does not scare defenses. He is not an option downfield -- he has the 77th-most deep targets -- such that he's confined to the short and intermediate passing game.

Denver's Pass Defense

The minimal threat that Las Vegas' pass attack poses has failed to suffice against pretty much any team it's faced since Ruggs left. Even pass defenses that rank towards the bottom, like Cincinnati's, and that rank in the bottom half, like the Giants', have proven too much for the Raiders.

But now they face a Denver team that ranks sixth in pass defense after limiting weapon-laden stud quarterbacks like Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes. Both quarterbacks rank top-10 in passing yards but failed to touch 200 passing yards against this Bronco secondary.

Besides benefitting from the return of top pass rusher Bradley Chubb, Denver boasts the now healthy cornerback Bryce Callahan who has been solid against wide receivers who are not fast like Ruggs.

Fellow cornerback Patrick Surtain can also boast that he limited top receivers like Amari Cooper and Tyreek Hill. Know for your NFL picks that this group of cornerbacks will get a far easier test in the Raiders.

Denver Offense vs. Raider Defense

Offensively, Denver loves to rely on the run. It ranks ninth in rushing yards per game.
The Broncos lean, in particular, on Melvin Gordon with his 4.4 YPC and Javonte Williams with his 4.8 YPC.

While both are capable of breaking the big one, Williams in particular consistently amasses chunk plays by evading tackles. Having a duo of starter-caliber running back allows a team to keep both running backs fresh. Both will succeed against Vegas' 25th-ranked run defense.

The key is not to fall so far behind that abandoning the run becomes necessary. With its defensive advantage, Denver's lead will always be secure. Now, skeptics may want to compare Denver to the Cleveland team that Las Vegas just defeated.

Like the Broncos, Cleveland leans on its run game and had to start a backup quarterback. But Bronco Drew Lock has way more experience and comfort in his team's offense than former 49er Nick Mullens.

Thus, Mullens was severely hamstrung by conservative play-calling. Lock, as evident in his higher YPA against the Bengals and the touchdown drive that he led as soon as he entered that game, does not suffer the same disadvantage as Mullens and thus is not remotely comparable to him.

As a Bronco, Lock has an excellent history at home against the Raiders, using solid and mistake-free performances to lead his team to either a win or a 30-point output against them. Know this history for your best bets.

Count on Lock, who anyhow won't have to do too much given the run support that he has which his Raider counterpart does not have, and given the solidity of Denver's defensive advantage, to lead his team to another win over the Raiders.

NFL Pick: Broncos +1 (-110) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Broncos +1 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.