The Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders might both be eliminated, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything on the line between these two AFC West rivals. The Broncos haven’t beaten the Raiders since they moved to Las Vegas back in 2020, and regardless of the city they call home, the Broncos haven’t picked up a road win in this series since 2015, the final year of the Peyton Manning era.
There’s clearly plenty of pride and animosity coming to a head in this one, and players and coaches on both sides will be pushing to prove that they belong in their respective franchise’s future plans. Most notably, Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce and rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell will look to make one last case to management. In a game with the total set low at 37, there may not be many points so getting off to an early lead could be huge; let’s get into some NFL week 18 first touchdown picks for this rivalry clash.
Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders First Touchdown Picks
The biggest storyline for the Denver offense is of course the benching of highly expensive quarterback Russell Wilson, so the air offense has of course changed in recent weeks. For the Raiders, rushing the ball will likely be a priority to control the game at home.
Zamir White First Touchdown (+425)
Where better to start than with the most-favored player on the board? With Josh Jacobs fully ruled out as he rehabs an injury with the intention of being healthy for free agency, the second-year back out of Georgia has seen a significantly increased carry load in recent weeks. He’s only scored once this season, three weeks ago in that historic drubbing of the Chargers, but given his 67 total touches in the past three games, he’s definitely due for some positive touchdown variance.
A starting running back is often a really good bet for the first touchdown; if an early drive full of scripted plays goes well, he’s likely to be heavily featured. For early-game scores, coaches usually don’t need to get as deep into their bag of tricks, and there’s nothing more straightforward than a red zone halfback run. If you’re building a portfolio of first touchdown scorers for this game, or even across all of Sunday, White could be a great choice as there’s really no other back to steal high-value goal line carries from him.
Davante Adams First Touchdown (+650)
Simply put, a bet on Adams is a bet on the best player on the field. His numbers aren’t quite as gaudy as they were at his best in Green Bay, when he was catching passes from an MVP-level Aaron Rodgers, so Adams has flown under the radar a bit this year. Still, even when below his own lofty standard, he’s an incredibly productive receiver; amidst all of Vegas’s quarterback shuffling this year, he’s already hauled in 98 catches for nearly 1,100 yards and seven scores.
Adams’s prop has longer odds than White’s for very good reason; the Raiders effectively only use one running back at this point, while of course there are very often going to be several receivers on the field. But that field has become a bit distilled in recent weeks. Rookie tight end Michael Mayer was just beginning to establish himself in the offense as he went down for the rest of the year with an injury. In the past three weeks, Adams has scored three times as he’s developed a rapport with O’Connell. If the Raiders go to the air early and often in this one, Adams could find the end zone before anyone else does.
Courtland Sutton First Touchdown (+850)
Sutton has exited the NFL’s concussion protocol and will return for this week. That’s pretty telling; Denver could have easily held him out for just one more week to keep him healthy. He’s a key player in his prime, who’s owed a good bit of money going forward. With the team eliminated, it would have been understandable to prioritize keeping him healthy as either a core player going forward, or a major trade piece. But, all indications are that Sutton is a full go for Sunday, a real indicator of his motivation to perform in this rivalry with history on the line.
As far as his ability to score, Sutton has already set a career high- by far- with 10 touchdowns scored this year. Some of them have been absolutely magnificent, as he has proven that he is just about second to none when it comes to on-ball play, especially in the end zone. This Vegas secondary has some upside, but few of the corners, if any, will be able to jump with him and break up a contested ball. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham was sharp enough in his first outing of the year last week with Sutton out, and big, strong receivers like him are the kind of target that backup passers love; let’s see if they can connect early in this one.
Adam Trautman First Touchdown (+1500)
If you want a long shot for this prop, Trautman is a pretty good play. For starters, he’s a favorite of Denver head coach Sean Payton. Trautman played under the Super Bowl winning signal-caller in New Orleans, and after Payton made the splashy move to head to Denver, he made a point of pulling Trautman with him.
Trautman has scored three times this season, and is one more touchdown away from earning a bonus of $100,000. For a player whose base salary is just a touch over a million per year, that’s not a minor incentive. With a coach who is clearly invested in his success, expect Trautman to be given a chance to cash in at some point in this game- we’ll just want it to be very early on.
Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders First Touchdown Odds
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