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.