The week’s Thursday Night Football game features two teams that are going in completely opposite directions. The Denver Broncos are set to visit the Oakland Raiders to begin the Week 14 schedule.
Denver might be the hottest team in football, having won their last seven games. They’ve already clinched the AFC West and are looking to solidify a first-round bye in the playoffs.
It would be hard to find a team that’s playing worse than Oakland. They’ve lost five consecutive games, and four of those were double-digit defeats. At 3-9, the Raiders have completely fallen out of the playoff race, and could be headed for the top pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
Now, the two teams will face off on the NFL Network at 8:20 p.m. eastern time. You can watch a free live stream at nfl.com/tnf. The Web site will provide live “look-ins” throughout the contest.
The Raiders may not have much to play for, but they are hoping to avoid the same outcome as the last time these two teams met. Denver beat Oakland 37-6 in Week Four. It might have been Peyton Manning’s best performance with his new club. He completed 79 percent of his passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. He avoided throwing an interception and it was his highest passing total on the year.
Manning will likely have another big game against Oakland, this time around. After some initial questions about the quarterback’s arm strength coming off multiple neck surgeries, Manning has played as well as anyone in the league. He’s second among quarterbacks in passer rating, touchdowns and completion percentage.
During the Broncos winning streak, Manning has led his offense to the 30-point mark on six different occasions. Demaryius Thomas has been a big part of the team’s success, and is one of nine receivers with over 1,000 yards on the season. He caught five passes for 103 yards in the Broncos' September win against the Raiders.
It might be hard for the Broncos to face a more ideal opponent. The Raiders have been the worst defensive team in 2012, allowing 31.3 points per game. They are susceptible against both the run and the pass. They have yet to allow less than 20 points to an opponent this season.
On the offensive side of the ball, Oakland has struggled to put up points in recent weeks. They haven’t scored more than 20 points since Week Nine against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, they should receive some help on Thursday, as Darren McFadden is expected to return from a sprained ankle. He’s missed the last four games, due to the injury.
Even at home, the Raiders have been tabbed as very heavy underdogs by the oddsmakers. The consensus betting line at most Las Vegas sportsbooks has the Broncos as 10-point road favorites.
Prediction: On paper, this game shouldn’t be close. The Broncos have one of the best offenses and quarterbacks in the NFL, while the Raiders can’t seem to stop anybody. Carson Palmer has had some big passing games, but he won't have an easy time against a Denver defense that is third in yards allowed. This game could be over by halftime.
Predicted Score: Denver 34, Oakland 17