Peyton Manning, Broncos Host Rival Raiders

By: Michael Robinson | Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The start of the Peyton Manning era in Denver hasn’t met expectations so far. He looks to get his team back to .500 when they host the hated Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon.

The Don Best Pro Odds have Denver as a 6½-point favorite with a total of 47½-48. CBS will have the local coverage from Sports Authority Field at Mile High beginning at 4:05 p.m. (ET).

Manning had a celebrated signing with Denver in March, paying him a hefty $19.2 million per season. He looked worth every penny (19-of-26 for 253 yards, two TDs) in the opening 31-19 home win against Pittsburgh, but has struggled the last two games.

The 36-year-old is a combined 50-of-89 (56.2 percent) in losses the last two weeks at Atlanta (27-21) and home versus Houston (31-25). He threw three picks versus the Falcons and his combined 6.42 yards per attempt the last two weeks is a sign of less zip on his passes since his neck injury.

The Broncos (1-2 straight up and against the spread) would like to get the running game going to take pressure off Manning. However, they’re averaging 90.3 YPG (tied-for-23rd) and 3.6 per carry (22nd), and leading rusher Willis McGahee (213 yards) is questionable with a rib injury. Backups Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno have been ineffective in limited action.

It’s more likely that Manning throws early and often against a Raiders pass defense that ranks 26th in the league (264.7 YPG) and has both starting cornerbacks out in Shawntae Spencer (foot) and Ron Bartell (shoulder).

Denver’s defense is ranked 12th in the league (331.7 YPG), but should be without middle linebacker Joe Mays after a helmet hit on Texas quarterback Matt Schaub. The team is already been playing without suspended outside linebacker D.J. Williams.

The Raiders (1-2 SU and ATS) got a huge 34-31 comeback home win over Pittsburgh last week and immediately vaulted themselves to tied-for-second in the division with Denver and Kansas City. San Diego sits in front at 2-1.

New coach Dennis Allen was happy to get his first win and see the offense score 34 points after an average of 13.5 the first two. Two Steelers turnovers helped as did the absence of stars Troy Polamalu and James Harrison.

Running back Darren McFadden didn’t do anything the first two games, but broke through versus Pitt with a 64-yard touchdown run and 113 yards overall. He’s needed as a home run threat to give quarterback Carson Palmer some breathing room. Palmer is averaging just 6.87 yards per attempt (ranked 22nd) and is down receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion).

Brandon Myers (206 receiving yards) is also questionable with a concussion and that’s a big loss with Denver’s defense having trouble against tight ends this season.

Total bettors will note that the ‘over’ is 16-5 in Denver’s last 21 home games (2-0 this year) and 4-1 in Oakland’s last five away (1-0 this year).

This AFC West rivalry was one of the fiercest in the league when owner Al Davis was alive, and should continue to be so. It has been dominated by the road team at 7-1 SU and ATS the last eight. Oakland is 6-0 ATS (4-2 SU) in the last six in Denver.

The ‘over’ is 5-0 in the last five meetings with the total ranging from 37-43.

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