Coming into the 2013 NFL season, the Denver Broncos were considered by many odds-makers to be the Super Bowl favorites. Conversely, the Oakland Raiders were given the worst chance of any team to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy in February. In Week Three, the two teams are set to meet for the first time this year.
On Monday Night Football, the Broncos will host the Raiders in an AFC West battle. ESPN will have the action at 8:30 p.m. ET. Fans can watch a free live stream online with espn3.com.
Despite the low expectations for the Raiders, both teams are coming off wins. Denver had an impressive win against the New York Giants last week, while Oakland beat the Jacksonville Jaguars by 10 points at home.
On Sunday, the Seahawks-Jaguars game had the biggest betting line of the young season at 19 points. The point spread on Monday night isn’t that high, but it’s not very far, making it the second-largest line of the year. The Raiders are a 16-point underdog on the road. They have yet to be favored by less than a field goal.
If Peyton Manning continues to play like the favorite to win the MVP award, the Raiders will have a very tough time of staying in this game. He’s the only quarterback to start off a season by throwing nine touchdowns and no interceptions in the first two weeks. Manning has one of the best receiving corps in the league, especially since the organization added Wes Welker in the offseason. Four Broncos wide outs have at least 10 receptions.
The Raiders' best bet to stay competitive is to put pressure on Manning. Entering Week Two, the Raiders were tied for the league lead with nine sacks on the defensive line. They could find some success in Denver, as the Broncos play without a staple of their offensive line.
Ryan Clady will be forced to sit out after suffering a Lisfranc tear in his left foot. The left tackle hasn’t missed a game in the last five seasons, and he’s made the Pro Bowl in three of those years. Clady is the second Denver offensive lineman to go down in 2013. Center Dan Koppen suffered a torn ACL in the summer.
On defense, the Broncos will still be without Von Miller, who’s serving his six-game suspension. They will look to stop Terrelle Pryor, who’s playing in the sixth game of his career. The quarterback hasn’t put up huge passing numbers, throwing for 343 yards and a 73.1 passer rating. He has, however, given opposing defense trouble on the ground. He’s picked up 162 rushing yards on just 22 attempts.
Betting Odds: Denver -48.5, 16
Prediction: Like Denver’s first two games, this contest shouldn’t be very close. The Raiders will look to take advantage of the Broncos banged up offensive line, but they haven’t been impacted by losing Koppen and should be fine against the worst team in the division. It could be several weeks before Denver loses their first game.
Final Predicted Score: Denver 37, Oakland 13