Though the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders have both been eliminated from playoff contention, both teams have something to fight for in Week 18. Get Broncos vs. Raiders odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is Raiders -2.5.
Broncos vs Raiders Prediction
On the surface, the Broncos-Raiders rivalry doesn’t feel like a one-sided affair. Since the end of the Peyton Manning era, neither team has been particularly dominant, while it’s been pretty rare for either one to truly fall to the bottom of the league. But when you dig into the results a bit, a surprising trend becomes clear; the Raiders have consistently gotten the better of the Broncos.
Denver hasn’t won a game in this semi-annual matchup since the Raiders moved to Las Vegas in 2020. That streak spans seven games, with the most recent result being a 17-16 Vegas win in Denver back in September. To snap the losing streak, the Broncos are going to have to end an even longer trend as well; they haven’t won a road game against the Raiders since 2015, when they were in Oakland.
The Broncos snapped a similar streak earlier this year when they took down the Chiefs for the first time since that fateful 2015 season, which also ended with them hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. This team won’t be accomplishing anything like that, as they’ve been eliminated from playoff contention- in fact both sides have. But in a rivalry like this one, there’s always plenty of animosity and intensity, even when nothing but bragging rights is at stake.
On the Raiders side of things, there are some more tangible things to play for as well. Young quarterback Aidan O’Connell hasn’t always been perfect for Vegas this year, after coming on in relief of an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, but he’s definitely improved as the season has gone along. Against Denver, he’ll want to make a final statement that he should be at the heart of the franchise’s future plans.
The team has also been getting better results under interim coach Antonio Pierce since the dismissal of Josh McDaniels. The team was 3-5 before the move, and 4-4 since, with some particularly impressive performances dotted in. Vegas could be in the mix for big names like Jim Harbaugh this offseason, but Pierce, who has never been an NFL head coach, will want to show them that an in-house hire is the best move.
Incredibly, the Raiders look like the more complete football team right now. The Broncos have essentially given up after benching quarterback Russell Wilson, while their defense has regressed a bit after a midseason spike.
As for the Raiders, O’Connell seems to be gaining confidence every week, and the defense has taken a big step up over the past couple of months, especially against the run. Expect Vegas to extend their streak in this rivalry and get the home win this time.
Broncos vs Raiders Prediction: Raiders -2.5
Broncos vs Raiders Best Odds
The Raiders are favored by 2.5 points, or at -145 on the moneyline. The Broncos are +120 to break their streak of futility in this rivalry, while the total is set at a low 38 with -110 odds on both sides.
Broncos vs Raiders Key Injuries
Star running back Josh Jacobs and talented rookie tight end Michael Mayer are both banged up for Vegas, while the Broncos might still be without top wideout Courtland Sutton.
Broncos vs Raiders Key Matchups
With the recent great form of the Vegas run defense, the Broncos are going to need to throw the ball with Jarrett Stidham at the helm, while the Raiders will also be attacking a rather thin Denver secondary.
Raiders Pass Catchers vs. Broncos Secondary
Davante Adams just chipped in one of his best performances as a Raider last week, as he hauled in 13 catches for 126 yards and a pair of scores. That helped him cross the 1,000-yard plateau, and he’s a couple catches away from triple digits once again. Jakobi Meyers has been a good #2 option, but rookie tight end Michael Mayer is out and will be missed. The Vegas o-line has also been solid, ranking 12th in PFF’s pass blocking grade, and similarly as per adjusted sack rate.
The Denver secondary certainly has its stars, you can’t take that away from them. That being said, even Justin Simmons and Patrick Surtain haven’t been at their very best as the unit crumbles around them. They’re both grading in the mid-60s in PFF’s coverage grade, far below their respective standards, while the unit’s overall grade is a dismal 51.0, the league’s worst figure. This could be a really nice day for O’Connell, serving as a high note on which to end his rookie season.
Broncos Air Offense vs. Raiders Pass Defense
Stidham wasn’t horrible by any stretch in the win over the Chargers. Yes, it’s probably the league’s worst pass defense, but he completed 62.5% of his passes with a touchdown and no picks, a very strong performance for a backup in a floundering offense. With Sutton out, Jerry Jeudy is the top threat, while Lil’Jordan Humphrey chipped in a season-high 69 yards and a score.
In a tremendous year for edge rushers, another great campaign from Maxx Crosby has flown relatively under the radar. He’s up to 13.5 sacks on the year, and has accumulated 72 more QB pressures via a pass rush win rate of 15.8%. He hasn’t had much help in the front seven, but the secondary has been pretty solid, if unspectacular. Marcus Peters isn’t his former All-Pro self, but he’s been a good anchor for this unit as he continues to contribute solid performances.