The last Monday Night Football game of the year may be lacking in playoff importance, but the odds suggest there will at least be drama when it comes to the score. The Denver Broncos opened as slight 2.5-point favorites over the Oakland Raiders in their Week 16 MNF matchup at Oakland Coliseum. Kickoff is set for 8:15pm EST on December 24th.
Denver’s offense is predicated on pounding the ball, but they may want to readjust their approach, as they only average 21.9 points per game . Without their success on the ground, though, it would be even less. Led by Phillip Lindsay, the Broncos rack up 123.2 yards per game on the ground (11th).
Case Keenum has been thrilled to hand the ball off to Lindsay and the rest of the Denver backfield this season. The pivot has thrown for just 3,396 yards (14th) with 15 touchdowns (24th) and 12 interceptions, good for just an 82.1 passer rating. Meanwhile, Lindsay has rushed for 991 yards (5th) and nine TDs this season. But the Broncos will have to get back to featuring Lindsay after he left their last game with 24 yards on a measly 14 carries. Getting Lindsay the rock early and often will be pivotal on Monday.
Broncos rookie Phillip Lindsay’s first 13 games: 6.1 ypc
Against the 49ers & Browns: 1.9 ypc
An examination of what happened https://t.co/zXOxF2tVAN
— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) December 18, 2018
Saying Denver’s defense prides itself on stuffing the run is a bit hyperbolic. They are better against the run than pass, but they’re not really good at stopping either. The Broncos are giving up 120.2 rushing yards per game (20th), and 257.9 passing (25th). They have at least shown to be durable, bending without breaking, as opponents are only averaging 21.4 points per game (10th).
Broncos vs Raiders Statistical Comparison
|21.9 (21st)||PPG||18.6 (29th)|
|352.3 (18th)||YPG||343.9 (23rd)|
|123.2 (11th)||Rushing YPG||99.1 (26th)|
|229.1 (19th)||Passing YPG||244.8 (14th)|
|21.4 (10th)||PPG Allowed||29.9 (32nd)|
|378.1 (25th)||YPG Allowed||385.2 (26th)|
|120.1 (20th)||Rushing YPG Allowed||146.4 (32nd)|
|257.9 (25th)||Passing YPG Allowed||238.8 (16th)|
|+9 (T4th)||Turnover Differential||-6 (T23rd)|
Fortunately, Denver’s defense avoids any sort of offensive juggernaut this week, when they line up across from the Raiders. Oakland is scoring just 18.6 points per game (29th).
When you have as much difficulty running the football as the Raiders have this season, you make the defense’s job a lot easier. Opposing teams have been able to focus on Derek Carr and the aerial attack because there’s no danger of a running game.
Oakland ranks 26th in rushing, averaging a paltry 99.1 yards per game on the ground. Doug Martin has “led” the way in the backfield, totaling just 516 rushing yards (31st) and three touchdowns. Unless the Raiders plan on making some major changes on their offensive line, they may want to consider giving someone else an opportunity carrying the ball. Carr needs some help carrying the offensive load.
Jeff Driskel 14/33 130 YDS 1 TD 1 INT
Joe Mixon 27 ATT 129 YDS 2 TD
Tyler Boyd 4 REC 38 YDS 1 TD
Derek Carr 21/38 263 YDS 1 TD
Doug Martin 9 ATT 39 YDS
Jordy Nelson 6 REC 88 YDS
— NFL Warehouse (@NflWarehouse) December 16, 2018
Neither the passing game nor the ground game played well in last week`s 30-16 loss to Cincinnati, scoring just one TD against a Bengal defense that ranked dead-last in almost every statistical category heading into the game. (After the game, the Raiders have taken over last-place in several of those.)
The Raiders defense has really struggled due to its inability to stop the run. The 146.4 rushing yards per game they surrender (32nd) have led to them giving up a dreadful 29.9 points per game (32nd). Look for the Broncos to get Phillip Lindsay the ball early and often in Week 16.
Denver squeaked out a win over the Raiders, 20-19, when these division rivals locked horns earlier this year (September 16th). The Broncos were 5.5-point favorites in that game.