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.

WATCH: Seahawks’ Paul Richardson pulls in absurd touchdown catch against Lions

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It took until the first round of the playoffs, but we may finally have our winner for catch of the year.

On 4th and goal at the Lions’ 2, Russell Wilson lobbed up a pass to Paul Richardson, who was completely covered by Tavon Wilson.

Richardson stuck out his left hand and pulled in a miraculous grab to give Seattle the lead.

[Watch the rest of the second half from Seattle on NBC Sports Live]

Simply amazing.

 

Seahawks, Texans are the betting favorites for Saturday’s Wild Card games

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The Seattle Seahawks’ sporadic scoring output is something to consider when looking at the big point spread against the Detroit Lions. The Seahawks are listed as eight-point favorites against the Lions in their NFC wild card matchup set for Saturday at CenturyLink Field, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Seahawks are 7-0 straight-up in their last seven home games against teams from the Eastern Time Zone and the Lions are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven road games. However, Seattle scored 10 or fewer points four times at home this season, and none of those instances came against a premier defense.

The Lions, 9-7 SU and 8-8 ATS, are coming into the playoffs on a three-loss skid. One boon to the Lions’ chances is that the Seahawks, without free safety Earl Thomas, have been hopeless at stopping deep passes. Quarterback Matthew Stafford should be able to hit a few deep shots to the likes of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and T.J. Jones in order to compensate for a nearly nonexistent running game. That could help the Lions, who are 0-8 SU in their last eight playoff games, make it interesting.

The Seahawks, 10-5-1 SU and 7-8-1 ATS, have never lost at home in the playoffs during the Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson era. One can reasonably expect they will find some of their familiar postseason form. Seattle’s pass protection and run blocking has been problematic, so there could be opportunities to disrupt Wilson’s timing. Otherwise, WR Doug Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham could have big nights.

The total has gone under in eight of the Lions’ last 10 games. The total has gone over in five of the Seahawks’ last six games in the playoffs.

Elsewhere, the Houston Texans are listed as four-point favorites against the Oakland Raiders in Saturday’s AFC wild card matchup.

The Raiders, 12-4 SU and 10-6 ATS, will have rookie third-stringer Connor Cook become the first NFL QB to get his first career start in the playoffs. With Cook playing instead of Derek Carr (broken fibula), Houston might not have to honor the deep pass threat and can thus commit to containing RB Latavius Murray and limiting the damage on short-range passes to WR Amari Cooper and WR Michael Crabtree.

The fact erratic Brock Osweiler is back in at QB might account for why the Texans, who are 9-7 SU and 6-9-1 ATS, are not a bigger favorite against a hobbled team. The Raiders simply haven’t stopped anyone when teams have schemed to slow down edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. If Osweiler can curb his tendency to be overaggressive and allow WR DeAndre Hopkins and RB Lamar Miller to have opportunities, the Texans should be able to move the ball steadily.

Keep in mind, though, that the visiting team has gone 4-0 SU and ATS in the last four editions of this matchup. The total has gone over in seven of the Raiders’ last 10 games.  The total has gone under in nine of the Texans’ last 12 games at home.