The Las Vegas Raiders open the 2023 season with a matchup against the Denver Broncos. Las Vegas has defeated Denver in their last six matchups and in eight of the last nine. Can the Broncos break this ugly streak against their division rival? Check out below for Raiders vs. Broncos predictions, odds, picks, injuries, and depth charts.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos Prediction
Not only did the Broncos part ways with head coach Nathaniel Hackett – who clearly wasn’t ready for the job – but they hired offensive guru and Super Bowl champion Sean Payton to rejuvenate the squad. As a result, the passing offense under Russell Wilson should be far more successful, especially with rookie receiver Marvin Mims Jr in the fold and pass-catching running back Javonte Williams healthy. Wilson’s chemistry with Jerry Jeudy down the stretch of last season also forecasts a massive year for the duo, although it’s currently unclear whether Jeudy’s hamstring will force him to miss the contest.
Denver also addressed the offensive line by adding star left guard Ben Powers and right tackle Mike McGlinchey. Across 179 linemen with at least 400 pass blocking snaps, Powers ranked 5th in PFF’s Pass Blocking Efficiency – a stat that “measures pressure allowed on a per-snap basis with weighting toward sacks allowed.” McGlinchey hasn’t thrived in pass protection recently, but he’s a desirable run blocker for running backs Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine.
Payton and company will test out their new-look offense against an abysmal Raiders secondary that ranked 30th in PFF’s coverage grade last season and allowed the 4th most passing yards per game. The unit should remain a doormat for opposing offenses. Russell Wilson’s strength is his deep ball too, so expect the Broncos to consistently move the ball downfield through chunk plays – this is definitely a Courtland Sutton game.
Meanwhile, Denver’s defense is equipped to slow down Las Vegas’ weapons. Star cornerback Patrick Surtain II graded as the second best corner in the NFL per PFF, and they tagged Justin Simmons as the 12th best safety. Based on the eye test, those are accurate appraisals of their coverage abilities; the duo is truly elite. In addition, Denver’s secondary boasts an up-and-coming duo in corner Damarri Mathis and safety Caden Sterns. With those four ball hawks on the field, Raiders receivers Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, and Hunter Renfrow won’t find much room to run.
Plus, it’s difficult to have faith in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s a fine game manager, but the Raiders will need more given their mediocre offensive line and porous defense.
Finally, Denver’s defensive line and linebackers have the tools to slow down 2022 NFL rushing yards leader Josh Jacobs. Alex Singleton ranked 4th among all defensive linemen and linebackers in run stop percentage per PFF, while Josey Jewell, Mike Purcell, and DJ Jones also hold their own. Meanwhile, the pass rush could get to Garoppolo with Frank Clark and Zach Allen now on the team.
Overall, Las Vegas’ terrible secondary, Garoppolo’s flaws, Denver’s defense, and coach Sean Payton drive my prediction. Broncos Country, Let’s Ride!
Best Bet: Broncos -3.5 & Broncos Moneyline
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos Betting Odds
The Broncos are favored by just over a field goal, and the extra 0.5 points on the line could play a huge factor. For a bet on the Raiders’ +165 moneyline to hold a positive expected value, they must win this matchup around 37% of the time. The total of 44 points is in the middle of NFL games this week.
Broncos: TE Greg Dulcich (Personal) P, LB Baron Browning (Knee) Out, WR Jerry Jeudy (Hamstring) Q
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos below.
EDGE Maxx Crosby and Tyree Wilson vs. the Broncos Offensive Line
Last season, Crosby was 5th in sacks, 7th in hurries, and 15th in pass rush win percentage. He’s clearly one of the most productive pass rushers in the league, but Crosby lacked a partner to alleviate some of the pressure. The Raiders attempted to solve this issue by drafting rookie Tyree Wilson with the 7th overall pick. At Texas Tech, Wilson recorded an impressive 8 sacks and 19.4 pass rush win percentage. If Crosby and Wilson can harass Russell Wilson, it would reduce the amount of time their corners must hold up in coverage.
WR Davante Adams vs. CB Patrick Surtain II
Over the last three seasons, Adams averaged 1,481 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s one of the best route runners in the NFL, which allows him to create separation against anyone. Surtain II will certainly put that theory to the test though, as the 6’2” corner runs a 4.46 40-yard-dash and possesses excellent anticipation and fluidity. Las Vegas has to win this matchup if they are going to have a chance of covering; otherwise, the offense will be one-dimensional and fangless.