The Oakland Raiders return home for Week 12, as they look to put their blowout loss to the Patriots in the past. The Raiders went to Mexico and struggled to make it a contest. The Patriots blew them out for a 33-8 final in Mexico. Oakland have gone 2-6 in their last eight games, and are entering must-win territory now. Head coach Jack Del Rio is on the clock. I think the Raiders better find a way out of this, or Del Rio is going to be on the way out.
His defensive coordinator, Ken Norton, was fired after the Patriots game. According to reports, the decision to fire Norton was entirely up to Del Rio. The message has been heard loud and clear in Oakland, though. The defense hasn’t performed well enough, but neither has the offense. Derek Carr missed a bit of time, giving way to EJ Manuel as the starting quarterback. Nevertheless, Carr hasn’t played particularly well in 2017.
Carr was able to pad his stats in garbage time against the Pats, but he didn’t look sharp against their secondary last week. He passed for 237 yards with a touchdown and interception. The Patriots’ defense has improved greatly, but Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia made Carr look like a rookie. He needs guys in his receiving core to step up and start making plays. Amari Cooper certainly has talent, but his hands have looked like a pair of bricks at times this year. Both Cooper and Michael Crabtree went over 1,000 yards in 2016. It doesn’t look like the Raiders will have a single 1,000-yard receiver in 2017.
Carr has passed for 14 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He threw just 6 interceptions all of last season. His QB rating has slid to 88.2. This isn’t entirely his fault, and there is not much time to play the blame game in Oakland. They’re a 4-6 football team who need to figure it out or they will go into self-destruct mode.
A loss against the 3-7 Broncos may just trigger the self-destruction. Further, I just can’t see Mark Davis watching Paxton Lynch beat his team, and be content with Del Rio as his head coach. Osweiler lost another game last week. This time throwing a near pick-6 deep in Bengals’ territory. It was a 14-point swing, which ultimately became the game winning play. Back to the bench for Osweiler yet again. Let’s get to our free Broncos vs. Raiders pick below.
Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders Betting Odds:
vs. Raiders -4(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Broncos vs. Raiders Pick:
Paxton Lynch will get the third start of his NFL career on Sunday in Oakland. The Broncos are 3-7 and just want to see what they have with him. It’s the most important game of his life, as a poor start can send him right back to sitting on the bench. Osweiler has been bad, Trevor Siemian atrocious, so it’s Lynch’s job to lose now. Osweiler was so bad last week that he’s now sitting on the bench as the third-stringer. Siemian will back up Lynch in this contest against the Raiders. Lynch made his debut in relief duty of Siemian a year ago against the Buccaneers, so he’s made three appearances in total.
Lynch finished with 2 touchdowns and an interception in those games. He had a 59% completion percentage and 79.2 quarterback rating. Lynch also passed for an average of 165 yards per game. Lynch does have some mobility to his game, but is no burner. He may scramble and pick up a 1st down from 5 or 6 yards out occasionally. The season is in the toilet, but if the Broncos can find a starting quarterback in Paxton Lynch, the year won’t be a total loss. Expect a heavy dose of the run from the Broncos in this game. They’ll do everything to make him feel as comfortable as possible.
The Raiders are 26th in the NFL, allowing an average of 367.1 yards per game. Lynch could have gotten an unluckier draw with respects to his first opponent, but the Raiders’ defense has been put on notice with the firing of their defensive coordinator. I’d be surprised if they look like a bottom defense at home against Paxton Lynch.
The Falcons sacked Lynch six times last season. He was confused to the max against blitzes and picking up certain coverages. Everything was moving way too fast for him. The Broncos’ offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL. Expect the Raiders to throw a plethora of exotic looks at Lynch. If they get to his confidence early, Lynch will fold up like a cardboard box. Newly appointed defensive coordinator, John Pagano, will likely draw up plenty of blitzes right out of the gate.
Denver’s defense is still among the elite, despite what’s been transpiring for them as a team in 2017. They gave up all of those points against the Patriots, but the majority came on special team blunders. They’re 3rd in the NFL with 282.3 yards allowed per game. Further, the Broncos are giving up just 197.7 yards per game in the passing game, 5th in the league. The Oakland offense has struggled this season, and the Broncos should pose some issues for them on Sunday. In their last five meetings, an average of 32 points was scored. The UNDER went 4-1 during that five-game stretch, which dates back to October 11th, 2015. If you want a high-scoring affair with fireworks, you may want to look elsewhere.
PICK: UNDER 43 (-110)