The Oakland Raiders were probably going to lose in Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season when it looked like Antonio Brown was going to play. Now that the wide receiver is reportedly about to be suspended, if not cut, the Denver Broncos should cruise to a victory over their AFC West rivals.

Denver is up to a 2.5-point road favorite, according to the latest betting line at OddsShark. The second game of the upcoming “Monday Night Football” doubleheader had been a pick’em before news of Brown’s impending suspension broke Thursday. The total is down to 43.

Coming off a 4-12 campaign, there are few signs that indicate the Raiders will be improved this season. No one seems to know when, or if, the team’s big offseason acquisition will take the field. Oakland still lacks enough talent on both sides of the ball to climb out of the basement of the division.

The Raiders do have the edge at quarterback in the season opener. Derek Carr might not be better than an average signal caller, but he’s certainly not any worse than Joe Flacco, who’s been consistently mediocre since winning the Super Bowl MVP award nearly seven years ago.

That won’t be enough for Oakland to pull out the win against Denver. The Broncos have a chance to be a competitive team in 2019, which is a lot more than you can say about the Raiders.

Look for Denver’s defense to return to being a top-10 unit at worst with former Chicago Bears’ defensive coordinator Vic Fangio taking over at head coach. The Broncos lost four games by four points or fewer in 2018, a product of poor coaching and late-game execution.

Bradley Chubb Denver Broncos
Bradley Chubb #55 of the Denver Broncos gets the crowd pumped up during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Flacco won’t have to put up gaudy numbers in Oakland. Phillip Lindsay should have a big game against the defense that allowed more rushing yards than 29 teams last season. The running back totaled 107 yards on 7.6 yards per carry when the Broncos beat the Raiders last September.

Oakland is 1-7 in their last eight games with AFC West opponents. The Raiders have just four wins in their last 20 games.

It’s not always the best idea to take road favorites, but it’s not asking much when all you need is for a team to beat the lowly Raiders by a field goal.

Prediction Against The Spread: Denver over Oakland, 20-10