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One of the most powerful trends of the past few years will be facing a stiff hurdle when the heavily favored Denver Broncos travel to Oakland for a matchup with the Raiders on Thursday night
Since 2009, double-digit home underdogs have gone 14-1 ATS, including Kansas City’s close-enough 17-9 loss to Denver two weeks ago as a 10½-point ’dog. Three years ago, in fact, the Raiders twice were outright winners as 14½-point underdogs, beating Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
But so much has gone wrong for the Raiders this season it will take a strong will to back this team. After all, head coach Dennis Allen spent time this short work week tending to his ill father in Dallas. Then there’s the fact the Raiders’ first-team RBs are out and their backups ailing.
Also, QB Carson Palmer is battling through a thumb injury and TE Brandon Myers is probable (shoulder). RB Darren McFadden, originally listed as out, is now probable according to ESPN. Myers had 14 catches for 130 yards last week vs. Cleveland in a 20-17 loss.
Now for a closer look at this game:
Broncos (9-3) at Raiders (3-9)
Time: 5:20 p.m. PDT
Line: Broncos -10 (48½)
Facts: Denver clinched its division last week but remains fiercely motivated to earn the second AFC seed and accompanying bye. The Broncos are tied with New England and Baltimore (both 9-3), but already have lost to the Patriots and face the Ravens next week. • Oakland , meanwhile, is dead, dead, dead. • The Raiders are 7-14 straight up since Palmer, the league’s No. 20 passer, was acquired last season from Cincinnati. They were 11-10 in their previous 21 games. Denver’s Peyton Manning, meanwhile, ranks No. 2.
Flashback: The Broncos beat the Raiders 37-6 in Week 4, the second biggest rout in the 63-year series. In 1962, Denver beat Oakland 44-7 despite Broncos QB George Shaw having no TD passes and four INTs. • Since 2008, the home team is 2-7 in this series.
Analysis: The Raiders have a recent history of sensational upsets and probably will also be playing with extra drive in support of Coach Allen, much the way the Chiefs played through their grief last week to beat Carolina and the way the Colts have performed all season after finding out HC Chuck Pagano was fighting cancer.
But will anyone show up to cheer on the Raiders? Last week’s home crowd of 43,641 was by far the lowest in the league this season. And then there’s this: Manning is 6-0 in his career in Thursday games (5-1 ATS), all while with Indianapolis with the Colts scoring at least 30 points each game. That should be more than enough on this night.
Forecast: Broncos 31, Raiders 10
“Popular” Bob Christ has been forecasting NFL games for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in newspapers from coast to coast in Canada and the U.S. Contact him at [email protected].