Raiders vs. Broncos NFL Week 6 Preview and Best Bets

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John Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP.

The Las Vegas Raiders try to put the Jon Gruden mess behind them when they visit the AFC West rival Denver Broncos on Sunday. Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos  

Sunday, October 17, 2021 – 04:25 PM EDT at Empower Field

Entering this NFL season, the coach on the hottest seat in the league was arguably Denver’s Vic Fangio. Meanwhile, few coaches had more job security than Las Vegas’ Jon Gruden, who was entering the fourth year of a 10-year, $100 million contract. If you would have told me that Fangio would still be coaching in Week 6 and Gruden wouldn’t, I would have called you crazy. 

Sunday’s matchup of the 3-2 Raiders and 3-2 Broncos from the AFC West is televised by CBS and will draw a lot more attention than it would have previously because Gruden stepped down on Monday amid scandal. 

The Raiders are 66-53-2 all-time vs. the Broncos and have won four of the past five – including both in 2020. The game in Denver was Week 17 with the Raiders as 2.5-point favorites on the NFL odds and winning 32-31 in essentially a meaningless matchup.

Josh Jacobs scored on a 1-yard TD run with 24 seconds left, and then Derek Carr hit Darren Waller on the winning two-point conversion pass. Denver still had a shot, but Brandon McManus' 63-yard field-goal try was blocked by Maxx Crosby. On the final play of the first half, McManus had missed an NFL-record 70-yard attempt. 

The home team is 8-2 against the spread at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks in the past 10 meetings.  

Major Gruden Distraction for Raiders

We aren’t going to go through all of the Jon Gruden stuff, but when the news broke that he was stepping down as Raiders coach during Monday Night Football, it totally overshadowed a great game between the Colts and Ravens.  

It appeared the firestorm was over last weekend when Gruden apologized for some emails sent back when he was with ESPN in which he had some racist comments, but then the New York Times reported early Monday on emails in which Gruden had made homophobic and misogynistic remarks as well.

Remember, the lone openly gay player in the NFL plays on the Raiders: defensive end Carl Nassib, who took a personal day Wednesday away from the team. Gruden, in the fourth year of a 10-year, $100 million contract, simply had to go.  

There’s NO chance that Gruden coaches in the NFL (or college) again. BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review) actually has an NFL prop on what he does next with “host own podcast” as the -150 favorite followed by “work for Fox News” at +300. 

The Raiders sure played like something was off last Sunday in losing 20-9 at home to a mediocre Chicago Bears team. Vegas had just 259 yards along with 10 penalties. Derek Carr lit up the league in his first three starts, but didn’t throw a TD pass and had a pick vs. Chicago.

The Silver & Black scored at least 26 points in winning each of their first three games, in which they were lucky to win two, but have totaled just 23 points in losing the past two. 

Coaches get fired during the season all the time, but it’s almost unprecedented what the Raiders are dealing with and it has to be a major distraction. The team promoted assistant coach and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia to interim head coach.

BetOnline lists him at +1000 to be named the eventual full-time coach, but Bisaccia has never been a head coach at any level. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is the +600 favorite on that prop. 

Injury-wise, it appears the Raiders are in pretty good shape heading into Denver at least in terms of no new major injuries suffered vs. Chicago. Carr is 8-2 against the spread on NFL picks in his past 10 vs. the Broncos. 

Have Broncos Been Exposed?

Denver (3-2) was the early talk of the league with a 3-0 start, but that always looked fake considering the victories were against the awful Giants, Jaguars, and Jets. Those teams have combined for two wins so far. 

The Broncos scored at least 23 points in each of their first three and allowed only a combined 26. Denver has trailed in the first quarter in three of its five games and has trailed at halftime by double digits in the back-to-back losses.

In Weeks 1-3, the Broncos converted 35 percent of their third-down conversions. The past two weeks, that number has slipped to an NFL-worst 19 percent.  

Starting QB Teddy Bridgewater was in some question last Sunday against the Steelers due to injury, but played and threw for 288 yards, two TDs, and a pick in the 27-19 loss. Interestingly, Bridgewater has never lost three straight games against the spread on the NFL odds in his career. 

Bridgewater remains without two starting wideouts in Jerry Jeudy (injured reserve) and KH Hamler (out for season).

Denver has struggled to find a second downfield threat beyond Courtland Sutton and signed John Brown this week to the practice squad, but he may not be activated yet. In 2020, Brown started eight games for the Bills and caught 33 passes for 458 yards and three touchdowns. 

While the Broncos were the only team in the NFL last year to be an underdog in every game, they along with the Bucs and Chiefs are the only clubs to be favored in every game this season.  

Denver will honor former head coach Mike Shanahan by inducting him into the team's Ring of Fame on Sunday. Because of that, the team will wear its navy jerseys for the first time this season. The Broncos first wore navy jerseys as their primary look in 1997, when Shanahan led the franchise to its first Super Bowl title.  

Because of all that the Raiders players have gone through this week I have to fade them. The Broncos are 10-3 on the NFL odds in their past 13 following an ATS loss.  

NFL Pick: Broncos -3.5 (-108) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Broncos -3.5 (-108)
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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.