Dallas came in to the season as nearly everyone’s favorite NFC team to improve on an injury riddled season, and has not let anyone down. Sitting at a 4-1 record, with a long loss in week 1 to last year’s Super Bowl Champion, the Cowboys have the 2nd best DVOA coming into the week. New England, on the other hand, was a bit tougher to dissect coming into the year. They had numerous negative regression indicators (31st ranked 3rd down rebound, 28th in fumble luck and 32nd in yards per point), yet had an “outworldly” amount of defensive talent coming back (mostly that opted out during the Covid year), literally setting a record for the Biggest Net AV Over Replacement Gain on Defense from one year to the next by Pro Football Reference metrics. The two teams face off in Foxborough this Sunday afternoon in a game that I have absolutely not confirmed this, yet am sure Tony Romo is offering the play-by-play.
Ryan’s Season Totals
Assigned Games: 5-4 (with 2 Underdogs winning outright)
Best Bets: 12-2, Up 1123%
- Opening Line: Denver -3.5
- Current Line: Denver -3.5
- Over/Under: 44
- Location: Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
- Start Time: 4:25 PM EST, SUN 10/17
- Last Meeting: Raiders 32, Broncos 31 in Denver week 17 of 2020
This is an intriguing game, regardless of the media storylines that go with it. The longtime AFC West Rivals go head-to-head for the first time since a meaningless week 17 game last year. Both teams come in to the game at 3-2, and “blah” DVOA ratings (Denver at 18 and Las Vegas at 25).
Many were rejuvenated on the Broncos when we found out that “Teddy Covers” Bridgewater would take the reins in Denver at the start of the season. And frankly, he has done a decent job “NOT LOSING” games, thus far in the season. Tactically speaking, Bridewater has always been a QB that can win within structure, similar to a Rams Jared Goff, and polar opposite of Baker Mayfield. You combine this with a strong defense, and you have a recipe for a 7-9 win team.
And then we have the Raiders. As much as I don’t want to talk about Jon Gruden, for someone who only cares about predicting football outcomes, losing a Head Coach, particularly after a series of insensitive remarks, will likely take a subjective toll on a team. To be fair, there are plenty of empirical examples of teams rising up the week after a coach gets canned (ol’ see it was the HC that was holding us back motivation), but I’m not sure this game plays out that way. The Raiders came into the season riding some positive regression, particularly in fumble luck and Yards per Point. However, knowing all the adversity, coupled with how poorly Raiders QB Derek Carr handles ACTUAL pressure, this seems to be the Broncos game for the taking. It’s a poorly kept secret (unlike AFC West companion Pat Mahomes) you beat Carr with Pressure. And the Broncos have the third highest blitz rate in the league according to Pro Football Reference. Additionally, given the “Net Inside/Outside Pressure Split” between the Broncos pass rush (being better on the outside) and the Raiders having the 7th best interior Pass Protection in the NFL, yet 23rd outside pressure rate, its looking like a long day for Carr.
- The Raiders have one win ATS (1-1) as a 3.5-point favorite or greater this season.
- Two of Las Vegas’ five games have gone over the point total.
- Las Vegas games have finished with over 44 points twice this year.
Both teams seem of similar OVERALL talent. And although I typically back teams the week after a coach is fired, because of the circumstances it’s likely not going to give his former team much of a boost. Coupled with the pressure the Broncos are likely to get on Carr and the early season home field advantage the Broncos enjoy, this can only go one way.
Prediction: Denver 20, Las Vegas 9