For some, this classic NFL rivalry still matters.
That will be on full display this Sunday when the season opens with this historic rivalry (and hopefully a Denver win).
DraftKings Sportsbook has the Broncos as a slight -3.5-point favorite for the season opener at Mile High. Since Denver is at home and has the coaching advantage, that line makes complete sense. The total sits at 44 for Sunday’s game. The betting trend last season for Broncos games was to play the under. We’ll see if that’s still the case after Sunday or if the offense can finally score more than 17 points.
MHR: What’s the feeling in Raider Nation heading into the season, especially with some significant changes? What are the expectations for this team in 2023?
Matt: There’s always some optimism within the fanbase to begin the year, but I think most people are tempering expectations for this season. As you said, the Raiders made a lot of changes in the offseason and most of them are geared toward the future. While no one in the organization will outright say it, it’s pretty clear the Raiders are building for next year and beyond. I think most people realistically expect about six to eight wins.
MHR: Speaking of those changes, how do fans feel about Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback?
Matt: It’s a mixed bag. Garoppolo is definitely a better fit in Josh McDaniels’ offense than Derek Carr was last year as Garoppolo is more accurate on short to intermediate throws and isn’t looking to make as many checks at the line of scrimmage as Carr does. The latter was where a lot of the disconnect between McDaniels and Carr stemmed from as McDaniels prefers someone who is going to throw the ball where he wants it to go play in and play out rather than ad-libbing.
All of that being said, there is a drop off in talent from Carr to Garoppolo and the latter’s injury history is very problematic. It’s almost inevitable that Jimmy G is going to have to miss at least one game—and probably more than that — and that means the Raiders will have to rely on Brian Hoyer and/or Aidan O’Connell at some point.
MHR: The one thing that hasn’t changed is Josh Jacobs, to the dismay of Broncos Country. What kind of showing are the Raiders/fans expecting on Sunday?
Matt: That’s a difficult question to answer since Jacobs didn’t start practicing with the team until last week after sitting out of training camp. Anytime he’s on the field there’s an expectation that he’s going to get 100 rushing yards and produce, especially against the Broncos who he’s had a lot of success against as you alluded to. However, the key factor in that equation is how many touches he’ll get with the missed practice time. I wouldn’t be surprised if McDaniels limits Jacobs’ workload early in the season, and I do think the Raiders will give Zamir White more touches this year since he’s likely the future of the team’s backfield.
MHR: What is your best bet for Sunday’s game at DraftKings Sportsbook? And what do you think about the Broncos being the favorite?
Matt: I like the over at 44 points. I think Las Vegas’ offense has enough firepower to score on just about anyone but their defense is a liability. Plus, these two teams put up 55 points the first time they played each other in 2022, so I think the total on DraftKings is a little low.
As for the Broncos being favorites, it makes sense to me. They have home-field advantage, the better quarterback and head coach so a four-point spread makes sense. But we’ll see how it goes down on the field!
MHR: What are your expectations and predictions for Sunday’s game?
Matt: Similar to the season outlook, I don’t have many expectations for the Raiders on Sunday. I’m more interested to see how the offense operates with Garoppolo and how their draft picks like Tyree Wilson and Michael Mayer look to begin the season. My prediction is 31-28 Broncos, so the Raiders cover but their defense struggles to hold up.
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