DENVER BRONCOS (9-3)
at OAKLAND RAIDERS (3-9)
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. EDT
Line: Denver -10, Total: 48
Two teams moving in opposite directions collide on Thursday night when sizzling-hot Denver visits the slumping Raiders.
The Broncos have a chance to keep rival Oakland’s misery going. The Raiders have lost five in a row, SU and ATS, and are 1-5 ATS at home this season. When these teams met in Week 4, it was a complete mismatch, with the Broncos piling up 503 yards of offense in a 37-6 win. Oakland did have a string of four straight wins over Denver spanning from late 2009 to early last season, but that was all pre-Peyton Manning. The Broncos enter this one on a seven-game SU win streak (5-2 ATS). They’ve topped 30 points in six of those seven games. The good news for Oakland is that RB Darren McFadden (ankle) could be ready to return.
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Manning continues to amaze, ranking second in the NFL in passer rating (104.6) and tying for second with 29 touchdown passes. Last week he threw three touchdowns for the seventh time in the past nine games, helping beat Tampa Bay 31-23. Manning also tossed 3 TD in a 37-6 win over Oakland in Week 4, connecting on 30-of-38 passes (79%) for 338 yards. WR Eric Decker had 79 yards and a touchdown on seven catches, while Demaryius Thomas had a team-best 103 receiving yards in that win over the Raiders. Both wideouts have eight touchdowns this season, while Thomas has 1,114 receiving yards, which is tied for fourth in the NFL. Both receivers are excited to face Oakland's porous pass defense, which not only ranks 25th in the league, but has three key players in the secondary all listed as doubtful with concussion symptoms -- CB Phillip Adams and safeties Matt Giordano and Mike Mitchell. A big reason Denver was able to win easily in Week 4 was the ground game that chewed up 165 rushing yards, including 112 from Willis McGahee. But McGahee (knee) is now out for the season, and the Broncos are really struggling to run the football without him, gaining just 3.5 yards per carry and failing to reach 100 yards in either of the two games since his injury. Denver won't completely abandon the run though, as Oakland has allowed the fifth-most rushing yards in the NFL this year (130 YPG). The Raiders defense has been dreadful during the five-game losing skid, allowing 37.8 PPG on 441 total YPG. They have forced just four turnovers during this stretch as well.
Neither McFadden nor Goodson has played since Nov. 4, but McFadden is having his worst season as a pro with just 3.3 yards per carry. He gained just 34 yards on 13 carries (2.6 YPC) in the Week 4 loss to Denver. Goodson has nearly twice McFadden's season average (6.5 YPC), including 7.3 YPC against the Broncos, but has gotten a total of just 17 rushing attempts in his eight games this season. RB Marcel Reece has been a nice fill-in with 114 total YPG in four games since the pair of injuries, but he is listed as questionable for Thursday with a hamstring injury. This could make for a long evening, as Denver's rushing defense ranks seventh in the NFL with 96 YPG allowed. Raiders QB Carson Palmer will try to move the football through the air, but the Broncos also have an outstanding pass defense (212 YPG, 6th in NFL) led by future Hall-of-Fame CB Champ Bailey. Palmer has been pretty poor in his career versus Denver (71.3 passer rating, 6 TD, 8 INT), but he did throw for 332 yards, 3 TD and 3 INT in last year's home game against the Broncos, a 38-24 defeat. The Denver defense also has some key injuries though, with LB Wesley Woodyard (ankle) and CB Tracy Porter (head) both questionable for Thursday's game.