Raiders vs. Broncos NFL Week 11 Picks and Prediction: Denver’s Offense to Actually Look Good Against Struggling Las Vegas

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The Denver Broncos offense lines up behind guard Graham Glasgow #61 of the Denver Broncos against the Minnesota Vikings. Dustin Bradford/Getty Images/AFP.

The best sportsbooks have released their NFL odds for this week’s game between the Raiders and Broncos.

Both teams are struggling to win games. So this is not a game where “this team is struggling” will suffice as a good analysis. The Raiders have lost 3 games in a row: to the Saints, the lowly Jaguars, and the Colts.

Meanwhile, Denver did manage to beat the Jaguars two weeks ago, but they then lost 17-10 to the Titans last week.

While the Broncos sit in 3rd place in the AFC West, the Raiders are in 4th. Nevertheless, I am contending for several good reasons that one team will look better than the other in Sunday’s contest.

For reasons that I will explain, you should play both spread and total for this game at the best sportsbooks.

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Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

Sunday, November 20, 2022 – 04:05 PM EST at Empower Field at Mile High

Raiders' Pass Defense by the Numbers

Various statistics indicate that the Raiders' pass defense is among the league's worst. In terms of limiting opposing pass yards per game, they rank 26th.

By almost 6 points, they rank last place at limiting the opposing quarterback's passer rating. Moreover, they rank last place in the sack rate.

The two problems with the pass rush and secondary play fuel the larger problem of pass defense.

Where Is the Raiders' Pass Rush?

The Raiders were supposed to have an excellent pass rush this season partly because they already have the former all-pro selection, Maxx Crosby.

They added Chandler Jones to complement him on the other side of the defensive line.

While Jones wasn't coming off the 19-sack season that he accomplished in 2019, he did accrue 10.5 sacks last season and appeared primed to be at least similarly productive. So far this season, though, he has a half-sack. That's it.

The Problem with Chandler Jones

The addition of Jones should have been significant because it is not enough for a defense to possess a single solid pass rusher. Opposing offenses are too easily able to scheme away that single pass-rushing threat.

They wouldn't be able to double-team or otherwise find a way to scheme away the threats of both Crosby and Jones. Clips of Jones reveal him often being manhandled by a single offensive lineman.

Opposing offenses just aren't afraid of him. As a result, the problem persists that the Raiders still have just one good pass rusher. While Crosby has 7 sacks, no other Raider has more than a sack. Overall, Crosby has 70% of his team's sacks.

Secondary Problems

Given its personnel, Vegas' issues with the quality of its secondary are less surprising. Of course, it's harder for defensive backs to cover their man when their team's pass-rushing candidates are unable to help them.

Three of its cornerbacks who have been targeted 15 or more times are allowing a passer rating of 107 or worse. While his season has been disrupted by injury, Anthony Averett has been particularly disappointing.

Averett has failed almost every time to force an incomplete pass when targeted.

He's been targeted while covering Houston's Brandin Cooks, New Orleans' Marquez Callaway, and Jacksonville's Marvin Jones.

Last Week's Game

Las Vegas' lack of pass rush was most glaringly evident last week in its game against Indianapolis.

The Colt pass protection unit had struggled all season.

Even after facing the Raiders, Indianapolis ranks 27th in limiting the rate at which its opponent accrues sacks.

Colt quarterback Matt Ryan, when facing the Raiders, was sacked once in 29 drop-backs and enjoyed one of his best games of the season.

Russell Wilson and Melvin Gordon's Outlook

Struggling quarterbacks repeatedly manage to thrive against Vegas' problematic defense. Matt Ryan is just one example.

After back-to-back awful games, Jacksonville's Trevor Lawrence accomplished a 109.0 passer rating against the Raiders.

Russell Wilson, for Denver, achieved by far his best game of the season at Las Vegas. Wilson's passer rating in that game was 124.9. His passer rating exceeded 86.6 in one other game.

There's no reason to think that Wilson can't replicate his strong performance given the softness of the challenge posed by Las Vegas' defense.

Moreover, the Raiders rank in the bottom half in terms of run defense. So, Bronco running back Melvin Gordon, who had all of three carries in these teams' first matchup, is in line for one of his best games of the season.

Broncos' Defense

Denver has prided itself on having one of the best if not the best defenses of the season.

I like the Broncos in this game because it is the one team that will play defense. When they lost to the Raiders, their defense struggled.

But the Broncos have been giving up almost twice as many points on the road than they have been at home. Returning home, to the altitude of Denver, makes a significant difference.

At home, Denver is allowing an NFL-low 11.8 points per game.

Run Defense

Relative to these teams' first meeting, the Broncos will improve especially in terms of run defense.

They are coming off a game in which they limited Titan star, Derrick Henry, to his second-worst game of the season in terms of rushing yards and YPC.

So, the Bronco run defense is capable of being as elite as its top-ranked pass defense.

Pat Surtain's Outlook

Denver secured an expensive secondary that is well-stocked at safety and cornerback.

Patrick Surtain was not the best version of himself when dealing with Vegas' Davante Adams in their earlier matchup.

However, as measured by targets and productivity allowed, he has thrived against similarly high-level wide receivers, such as Tyreek Hill and Amari Cooper, so he is built to bounce back.


The Verdict

The Broncos will cover the spread as a result of its capable quarterback play (when facing problematic defenses, such as the Raiders') and its advantage in the quality of the secondary.

As for the total, it is too low for this game. Russell Wilson's capabilities are being underrated because he typically faces competent pass rush-secondary combinations. Meanwhile, Denver's defense is also a bit overrated because it has lost key pass-rushing pieces, some key guys are injured and Bradley Chubb is now a Dolphin.

With stronger defensive play at home and facing the Raiders' lack of pass rush and poor secondary play, Denver will win a higher-scoring game.

With your NFL picks, invest in the Broncos and the "Over."

Score Prediction: Broncos 27 - 20 Raiders

NFL Pick: Broncos -2.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Broncos -2.5 (-108)
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NFL Pick: Over 41.5 (-107) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Over 41 (-107)
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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.