We will go ahead and address the elephant in the room, Antonio Brown. At least we finally have some closure on the issue, as Brown was granted his release. From a gambler’s perspective, this was a huge announcement, as the line has now moved 5 points since the news.
This is an AFC West matchup, with both teams going through some transition since the last meeting in 2018. Denver has a new coach, quarterback and coordinators since that meeting. The Raiders have made some changes, though one of the key ones was going to be the addition of Brown.
The line has moved to Broncos -2 with the over/under being 42.
Fangio, Flacco Bring New Hope to Denver
New coach Vic Fangio, who was the defensive coordinator in Chicago, and Joe Flacco will bring a new look to Denver. Fangio has switched to game-day captains instead of season-long ones. Flacco will bring his Super Bowl pedigree and veteran leadership, which will be a nice change from the revolving door that has plagued the position of late.
Flacco figures to bring stability to the offense, but it won’t be a high-powered attack for the Broncos. They will look to control the ball and use their defense to win games. Phillip Lindsay will be the focal point of the offense after having a 1,000-yard season in his rookie campaign.
Denver’s defense remains one of the league’s best, and Fangio could be the guy to take them to the next level. They already have stars Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Chris Harris Jr. Fangio’s success with last year’s Bears team should translate well to the talented Denver defense. The Broncos will be without starting linebacker Todd Davis, who suffered a torn calf.
Last Home Opener in Oakland
The Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas next year, so this will be their last opener in Oakland. The big question of the week will be if the Raiders can forget the Brown drama and focus on football.
One of the offseason priorities was doing a better job of protecting Derek Carr, who was sacked 51 times last year. Trent Brown was brought in to play right tackle, and they are hoping for improvement from Kolton Miller on the left side. They have a tall task in Week 1 going against arguably the best pass-rush combo in Chubb and Miller.
Rookie running back Josh Jacobs should help solidify the run game and take pressure off of Carr. Without Brown, Jacobs’ role will be increased. Tyrell Williams will become No. 1 receiver, and rookie Hunter Renfrow will become more important in his slot role.
Oakland’s defense needed an influx of talent after only producing a league-low 13 sacks last year. They used their stockpile of picks from trades to upgrade with No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell, safety Jonathan Abraham and cornerback Trayvon Mullen. This should be a great team to start against for the young defense as Denver won’t have a high-scoring offense, and it will give them a chance to get their feet wet.
The big questions for bettors will be how the Raiders handle the Brown fiasco. Will they rally together and come out firing on all cylinders, or will the distractions be too much to deal with?
No player, outside of a quarterback, should be worth five points. This line movement was a big overreaction. The best bet of this game is now the under 42. The under is 9-0 in Denver’s last nine games. I like Oakland 21, Denver 17.
Free Pick: Under 42 for 2 units, Oakland +2 for 1 unit