Oakland Raiders (5-7) at Denver Broncos (10-2)
The Broncos lost at home 29-13 to the Chiefs week 10, but it turns out that bottoming out was exactly what the Broncos needed. Peyton Manning played so poorly in that game, completing 5 of 20 passes for 35 yards and 4 interceptions, that the Broncos shut him down so he could heal from some injuries. Brock Osweiler has been an improvement over 3 games, all wins, while Manning waits in limbo. They have a decision to make down the road, but, so far, the Broncos have moved the chains at a 70.71% rate in Osweiler’s 3 starts, as opposed to 66.43% in Manning’s 9 starts.
The Broncos also have the league’s #3 defense, in terms of rate of moving the chains allowed. They’re kind of banged up on that side of the ball right now, missing linebacker Danny Trevathan and safety TJ Ward, but they’re coming off of a dominant performance in San Diego and this team, right now with Osweiler under center, is more talented than their rank in rate of moving the chains differential, which is 8th. The Raiders, meanwhile, are less talented than their rank, 13th. They get center Rodney Hudson back this week, which is big, but their defense has been pretty weak since losing defensive end Justin Tuck for the season with an injury (week 5) and outside linebacker Aldon Smith for the season with a suspension (week 10). This line seems pretty appropriate at a touchdown and neither team is in a great spot or anything, so I’m just going to fade the public and take the points for a no confidence pick.
Denver Broncos 23 Oakland Raiders 17
Pick against the spread: Oakland +7