There may be no playoff implications, but the Christmas Eve Monday night game does provide us with a fierce rivalry game between the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders. On the road, the Broncos are 3-point favorites with an over/under of 43 points.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Broncos were riding a three-game winning streak and looked like a legitimate playoff threat with a rather manageable schedule down the stretch. However, back-to-back losses to the 49ers and Browns have officially taken them out of the playoff picture. At 6-8, the Broncos are just hoping to make it back to .500 by the end of the season.
Of course, Denver’s season hasn’t been nearly as bad as Oakland’s 2018 campaign. The Raiders are 3-11 with the Broncos and Chiefs still left on their schedule. While they managed a surprise win over the slumping Steelers a couple of weeks ago, the Raiders are coming off a wretched 30-16 loss last week against the lowly Bengals.
Oakland’s success or failure continues to largely fall on quarterback Derek Carr. Despite a lack of support, Carr has played well at times coming down the stretch, lifting the Raiders to that win over the Steelers and keeping them within a touchdown against the Chiefs the previous week. Of course, with little consistency from the running game and a lackluster defense, Carr can’t always do enough to keep the Raiders competitive, as was the case last week.
There should be minimal optimism for things to get better this week against the Denver defense. Despite the back-to-back losses, the Broncos have allowed 20 points or less in their last four games, albeit against mostly losing teams. Carr and company were also limited to just 19 points when they faced the Broncos in Week 2, so eclipsing the 20-point mark on Monday night would be an overachievement for the Oakland offense.
Outside of quarterback Case Keenum and rookie running back Phillip Lindsay, who earned an invitation to the Pro Bowl this week, it’s tough to name anyone on the Denver offense right now. Demaryius Thomas was traded mid-season, and Emmanuel Sanders has been lost to injury, leaving the Broncos to dig deep into their depth chart and practice squad to fill out their starting lineup. As a result, the Broncos have scored just 14 and 17 points in their last two games.
On the bright side, the Raiders are conceding nearly 30 points per game. Even a lackluster Bengals team with a backup quarterback put 30 points on the board against them last week. In rare instances, the Raiders have been able to slow down the opposing team’s running game and have a decent effort on the defensive side of the ball. However, that remains a key Oakland weakness that the Broncos may be able to expose with their Pro Bowler Lindsay.
Too Little, Too Little
Neither team is likely to produce much offensively in this game. In fact, the Raiders may have a slight edge because they’re at home and have the better quarterback. With the state of Denver’s offense, three points is a lot to cover. Bet on the Raiders at least beating the 3-point spread against the Broncos on Monday night.