2012 Week 14 NFL Picks: Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders Vegas Odds and Predictions – Free NFL Picks 12/6/2012: Heading into Thursday night’s meeting with division rival Oakland, the Denver Broncos (9-3) have already wrapped up the AFC West. In fact, they have as many wins as the other three teams combined. The dismal 3-9 record of the Raiders has contributed to Denver running away with the division, and while the Broncos bring a seven-game winning in streak in the matchup, Oakland is mired in a five-game losing streak. Given the disparity in the records, it is not surprising to see Denver being favored by 10 points on the road.
The offseason addition of Peyton Manning has paid huge dividends for Denver on both sides of the ball. Manning is currently second in the NFL in quarterback rating and tied for second with 29 touchdowns while Denver owns the seventh-best passing attack and ranks third in points per game. Demaryius Thomas has emerged as Manning’s top target, but slot options Eric Decker and Brandon Stokley have seen plenty of looks, as well. Defensively, Manning’s ability to get the Broncos early leads has allowed Denver to unleash its pass rush. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil lead a unit that ranks second in the NFL with 38.0 sacks. More importantly, the Broncos rank sixth against the pass, seventh against the run and ninth in points allowed. Plain and simple, Denver is one of the most balanced teams in the league this year.
Led by quarterback Carson Palmer, Oakland actually owns the eighth-best passing attack. Palmer has 20 touchdowns and more than 3,500 yards on the year, but he also has 13 interceptions. Outside of Palmer, not much has gone right for the Raiders. An injury to running back Darren McFadden has resulted in the Raiders ranking 29th in rushing. Thanks to a lack of balance and turnovers, they are scoring less than 20 points per game. Meanwhile, Oakland’s defense has been atrocious. The Raiders are allowing a league-high 31.3 points per game, and they rank 25th against the pass and 28th against the run.
The Broncos Win If:
With a dominant offense and stingy defense, it isn’t a secret why the Denver has been so successful this season. In the few games that the Broncos have struggled, they have fallen behind early and opponents have been able to control the clock. Facing a terrible Oakland defense, opportunities should be available for Manning and the offense to put points on the board early. If they take advantage, the Broncos can then turn their pass rush loose against Palmer as the Raiders try to catch up. As long as Denver can avoid a slow start against, the Broncos are going to be in great position to turn this game into a blowout.
The Raiders Win If:
There is no denying that Oakland is facing an uphill battle in this one, but avoiding an early deficit will go a long way to leveling the playing field. Oakland is relies too much on Palmer and the passing attack as it is, and if they Raiders are forced into obvious passing situations on top of that, Denver’s pass rush is going to flatten Palmer. If Oakland can find just enough of a ground game to keep the Broncos’ defense honest, Palmer has the speedy targets available at receiver to hit some big plays. With little defensive support, outscoring the Broncos is basically the only option for Oakland. The only way that has a chance of happening is if the Raiders can protect Palmer if he responds with a big game.
On one hand, Denver is on a roll. The Broncos have won seven straight games and already clinched the AFC West. On the flip side, they have won just one of their last five games by more than eight points, and 10 points is a fairly large spread for a road team to cover. That being said, it is hard to ignore Denver’s 37-6 demolition of Oakland earlier in the year. To make matters worse, the Raiders weren’t even competitive despite playing turnover-free football. Manning simply picked apart the porous Oakland secondary, and Denver’s pass rush gave Palmer no chance at completing the deep balls that can make the Raiders’ offense dangerous. Manning is still dialed heading into the rematch, and with Oakland having next to nothing as far as a running game is concerned, Miller, Dumervil are going to be in Palmer’s face all night. The Broncos might not win be 31 points, but they should win comfortably against an overmatched Oakland bunch.
Prediction: Denver Broncos (-10) Cover the Spread
Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders
Line: Denver -10
Total: Over/Under 48.5
Time: 8:30 PM EST on NFL Network
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