Sunday night NFL matchup has Broncos as slim underdogs at Raiders

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For only the sixth time since the start of 2014, pass rusher extraordinaire Von Miller and the Denver Broncos are listed as a road underdog as they take on Derek Carr and the resurgent Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are listed as the one-point favorite against the Broncos with a 43.5-point total for the Sunday night matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Denver is 4-2 straight-up and 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six games as an underdog on the road, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. Oakland has clearly turned a corner after a decade of mediocrity but is an underachiever at home: 2-5 SU and 0-7 ATS in its last seven games.

Denver is 6-2 SU and 6-2 ATS. Coach Gary Kubiak’s team is 8-2 ATS over their last 10 games, but continuing that trend will likely turn on how the matchup of the Broncos’ 27th-ranked offense and the Raiders’ 31st-ranked defense unfolds. Leading rusher Devontae Booker (shoulder) could be limited, which might increase the burden on QB Trevor Siemian.

With Carr on the other side of the ball, Denver can ill-afford falling behind on the scoreboard early, which was the case in both of their outright losses. Denver’s pass protection has allowed 18 sacks, which is not a good omen going into a game against imposing Oakland DE Khalil Mack.

Oakland is 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS. Oakland’s offensive line, which has allowed a league-low nine sacks, will be trying to negate reigning Super Bowl MVP Miller and a Broncos defense which is tied for the NFL lead with 26 sacks.

The tidily low sack total obscures a negative stat: the Raiders are last in the league with 16 offensive holding penalties, and Miller and OLB DeMarcus Ware will probably draw some flags with their burst off the edge. A repeat of that will affect play selection and limit opportunities for RB Latavius Murray.

The Broncos lead the league with only 5.7 yards per pass allowed, but couldn’t completely shut down Atlanta and San Diego’s proficient passing games during their two losses. All-Pro CB Aqib Talib (lower back) might be a late scratch for the second week in a row. Not having to contend with Talib would probably help Carr’s main targets, WR Amari Cooper and WR Michael Crabtree. That said, Denver has the another superb corner, Chris Harris. Likely replacement Bradley Roby also had an interception-return touchdown last week.

In classic Raider fashion, they have 20 more penalties than any other team. Denver is 13th on the penalty list. Who gets flagged less frequently could tip a game that is a toss-up on the betting lines, although website PredictionMachine.com gives the Broncos a 59.3% of coming away with the victory.

The total has gone over in eight of the Broncos’ last 10 games on the road against teams with winning records. The total has also gone over in five of the Raiders’ last six games with a closing total of 43.5 or fewer points.

Drew Brees, Le’Veon Bell Favorites in NFL Season Leader Props

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When it comes to betting props on NFL individual leaders, the tried-and-true works for picking a passing yards leader while rushing and receiving leaders are a little more random.

With training camps set to open in a matter of days, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a +300 favorite to lead the NFL in passing yards at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Brees has led (or co-led) the NFL in aerial yards five times in the last six seasons, with the lone exception coming in 2013 when Peyton Manning complied a NFL-record 5,477.

Brees will still have Willie Snead and Michael Thomas as outlets for his passes and, assuming the Saints’ defense stays near the bottom of the league, will have the opportunity to get into a few offensive shootouts.

The Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan (+400) and New England Patriots’ Tom Brady (+500) are the next two on the board. Ryan and the Falcons are likely to face a tougher schedule than what it turned out they had in 2016. Brady has only led the NFL in yards once, in 2007, and would be the oldest player to do so if he succeeds this season.

Based on 2016 won-loss records, the Indianapolis Colts and QB Andrew Luck (+1400) have the easiest schedule in the league, which could lead to Luck putting up some big numbers against softer competition. Another valid darkhorse play is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston (+1600), since he will have a 1-2 punch at receiver with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson and a team that still relies on being pass-heavy.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell (+300) and Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott (+350) are tightly bunched atop the NFL rushing champion futures board. Bell will no doubt be among the leaders in yards from scrimmage per game, but he’s only played 16 games once in four seasons. While there hasn’t been a back-to-back rushing leader in 10 years, Elliott will be running behind an excellent Dallas offensive line.

The Los Angeles Rams’ third-year workhorse Todd Gurley (+2000) will be in a new offensive system and, hopefully for the Rams, will be better complemented by second-year QB Jared Goff in the passing phase. That would give Gurley a fairer shot at breaking big runs on the regular.

Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (+400) and Atlanta’s Julio Jones (+400) are co-favorites on the odds to tally the most receiving yards, with the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham (+500) also coming in highly touted. Brown had two fewer targets per game in 2016 than in ’15, meaning he might be a less high-volume receiver now that he is 29. Jones has a receiving title from 2015, but last season the Falcons were most efficient when they spread the ball around.

Last year, the Indianapolis Colts’ T.Y. Hilton (+1200 this year) led the league in yards after being listed at +3300 in the preseason. Among the potential 2017 replicants are New England’s Brandin Cooks (+3300), who is expected to be the field-stretching target the Patriots have managed to do without since the Randy Moss days a decade ago. The aforementioned Mike Evans (+1200) is also close to a sure thing to get 11-12 targets per game in Tampa Bay and the continued development of Winston could make him a 1,500-yard receiver.

The last 12 league leaders in receiving yardage have been less than 30 years old at the start of the season. That trend has been consistent dating to the mid-1990s, with 19 of the last 21 receiving leaders being players who were no older than 29 at the start of the season.

Internet reacts to O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing

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In case you weren’t aware, O.J. Simpson was granted parole and the internet went crazy.

Cue hilarious tweets.