In the final Monday nighter of this season, the Denver Broncos travel to Oakland t0 battle the Raiders in the Oakland Coliseum. Although neither team gains much by winning, there’ll be a ton of drama in Week 16 Monday Night Football betting. None of the drama will have to do with where Santa is during his yearly foray around the world. Instead, the drama will settle on what’s going to happen to the Raiders in 2019.
The Las Vegas stadium won’t be ready until 2020. On Dec. 11, the City of Oakland sued the Raiders and the NFL under federal antitrust and breach of contract statutes stemming from the Raiders move to Las Vegas. It’s a big deal because Oakland’s looking to wrest control of the name Raiders from the franchise look it up in the city’s control. That, along with a ton of money, are what’s at stake in the very public, very messy suit going on right now.
The Raiders have always said that if Oakland sued them, they wouldn’t play in Oakland Coliseum. So, as we watch the Christmas Eve game, it’s important to remember what’s going on behind the scenes. The Raiders might not have a home next season while Oakland’s lawsuit could change the way the NFL conducts business.
It’s also very likely that this is the last NFL game we see in the Oakland Coliseum.
NFL WEEK 16 MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL BETTING
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
Monday, December 24th – Oakland Coliseum – 8:15pm ET
Odds: Broncos -2.5 (44.5)
Broncos Joseph and Elway Are On Hot Seat
The drama surrounding the Raiders is so intense that we can forget that the other team playing on Monday night also has a ton of drama surrounding it. For a few weeks this season, it looked as if the Denver Broncos might sneak into the playoffs. Then the unexpected happen against San Francisco.
Denver headed to SF on a 3-game winning streak. They had beaten two of the top teams in the conference, the Pittsburgh Steelers and AFC West rival Los Angeles Chargers, and were in a decent position for the playoffs. But, the 49ers dumped Denver.
The Broncos’ playoff hopes were still alive in Week 15 until they lost to the Cleveland Browns. Now at 8 losses, the real question’s whether GM John Elway fires coach Vance Joseph during the offseason. It actually hasn’t been much of a question of “if”, but “when” and that clock is ticking louder and louder in Denver.
There’s also this: the Broncos drafted DE Bradley Chubb instead of one of the two remaining quarterbacks with first round talent: Josh Allen and Josh Rosen. Rosen especially would have looked much better in Denver orange than free agent Case Keenum’s looked. Josh Allen has been a statistical anomaly as a rushing threat.
Elway might think he’s untouchable, but the 2016 Super Bowl feels like it was a long time ago. Both he and Joseph are hoping their team rediscovers some of the magic that led to the 3-game winning streak. If the Broncos don’t, Joseph’s not the only one that could get his walking papers even if the Denver faithful believe it would be sacrilege to can the legendary Elway.
Raiders Can Start Rebuild with Win Over Broncos
Jon Gruden’s in no danger of losing his job. GM Reggie Mckenzie’s already been served his pink slip. The Raiders are tied for dead last in the NFL with a 3-11 SU record, but hilariously hold the tie-breaker against the Arizona Cardinals, who are also bottom feeders. There’s still two weeks to go, and Oakland stands little-to-no chance of matching the Kansas City Chiefs, who may have lots to play for in Week 17, depending on what goes down this weekend.
Perhaps the hardest part of grading this Week 16 Monday Night Football betting line is motivation. You simply can’t depend on the Oakland Raiders to care about this game. They’re shown a commitment to a long-term plan of rebuilding this team in the image of Jon Gruden. Even quarterback Derek Carr, who was extended to the tune of $125 million as a franchise cornerstone, has to be feeling the pressure.
If you didn’t know what was happening behind the scenes, you’d actually be hard pressed to believe that the Oakland Raiders are actually tanking. They hung tough with the Chiefs and beat the Steelers outright before losing 16-30 against Cincinnati. This is still a home game. They’re still professional athletes. The sentiment of sending off their fans with a final win before they leave town is one of the x-factors looming over the betting action. That stuff can matter big time.
Week 16 Monday Night Football Betting Analysis & Trends
There’s no reason to think about offense versus defense in this game. We know Denver’s got the better defense. We know Oakland’s got the better offense. Both teams are surrounded by drama. So, neither’s got the mental edge.
It’s also impossible to think in terms of strategy. If Joseph and Gruden have proven anything this season it’s that neither’s great at coming up with a sustainable game plan.
So, how do we handicap a game between mirror image rivals? Trends don’t lie but according to the metrics neither team should cover. The Broncos are 3-12 ATS in their last 15 games following an ATS loss. The Raiders are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 and 1-4 ATS versus a team with a losing record.
There are two options. We can throw a dart and pick whomever it lands on to cover. Or, we can just take the points. I’m taking the points on the Raiders (and not just because I’m terrible at darts). There’s an outside chance that the no-heart Raiders play slightly better on Monday night because there’s a huge possibility they’ll never again play in front of the most hardened, toughest, spirited fans in the NFL.
If the Raiders lose and don’t cover, I won’t feel bad for myself. I’ll feel bad for their fans who have always backed their team even though their ownership could care less.
Week 16 Monday Night Football Betting Free Pick: Raiders +2.5