Denver Broncos (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (6-2)
The Raiders are 6-2, but they’ve been one of the most disappointing teams in the league in my opinion. Stacked with young talent and coming off of an off-season in which they had a ton of cap space and added a lot of talent in free agency, I had the Raiders finishing 2nd in the AFC before the season started. They enter this game tied for the 2nd seed with the visiting Denver Broncos, but 5 of their 6 wins have come by 7 points or fewer. They also enter this game just 27th in first down percentage differential, thanks in large part to a defense that is allowing the 7th highest first down percentage in the league. They’re far more talented than that suggests, especially on defense, as they’re one of the most well-rounded teams in the league on paper, but they have not played up to their talent level thus far this season. Somehow, despite an infusion of talent in free agency, their defense has been worse in 2016 than in 2015.
This would be a good time for them to start doing that, as this game could end up deciding the division and possibly even a first round bye. The Broncos have exceeded my expectations a little bit this season, as their offense has looked good at times and their defense has remained one of the best in the league, despite off-season losses of Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan and an injury to DeMarcus Ware. They enter this game 2nd in first down percentage differential. Their defense will be tested in a big way this week though, with starting cornerback Aqib Talib out with a back injury. He’s been one of the best cornerbacks in the league this season. If the Raiders play like they can on both sides of the ball, not just on offense, they should be able to win this game at home. Given that, the Raiders are the pick here as mere 1 point home favorites, but I’m not confident enough in them right now to put money on them.
Oakland Raiders 20 Denver Broncos 16
Pick against the spread: Oakland -1