by Aengus Moorehead
Time & Venue: 10:15 PM ET, Monday, September 12, 2011 .Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado
Last Year’s result: Oakland Raiders 8-8 - Denver Broncos 4-12
Prediction 2011-12: Oakland 8-8 - Denver 4-12
NFL Football Odds: Broncos -3
Most of the offseason talk surrounding the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders centered around their respective quarterbacks. No surprise there, except in both cases the quarterbacks in question are not expected to be contributors this season. Tim Tebow and Terrelle Pryor will be watching from the sideline when Denver opens the season by hosting Oakland in an AFC West matchup on Monday night. Of more consequence, each team will feature new head coaches ( John Fox for the Broncos and Hue Jackson for the Raiders ) amid renewed optimism that both can challenge for the division crown.
Ex-Carolina Panthers coach Fox was brought in to help plug a sieve defense that allowed an NFL-high 471 points last season. Kyle Orton, the subject of major trade rumors in the offseason, returns as the starter after throwing for 3,653 yards and 20 TDs in 13 games last season. Although Brandon Lloyd led the league with 1,448 receiving yards, expect a more balanced offense with Willis McGahee joining former first-round draft pick Knowshon Moreno in the backfield. LB Von Miller was drafted No. 2 overall to bolster the defense, and the pass rush in particular.
Oakland ended a string of seven straight seasons with double-digits losses, but it couldn't save head coach Tom Cable's job. The Raiders went 6-0 against the division, helped in large part by a breakout season from RB Darren McFadden, who finally lived up to his billing as a No. 4 overall pick and was second overall in the league with 128.0 yards from scrimmage per game. With a stable of speedy, young receivers, QB Jason Campbell (2,387 yards, 13 TDs) may be asked to do more in his second season with the Raiders.
The Broncos are a 3-point NFL betting favorite at home, but the Raiders aren't afraid to go to Mile High, where they are 3-2 SU and 5-0 ATS in their last five meetings, including last year's 59-10 destruction. The Broncos will surely use that game as motivation, like they really need any more against their bitter division rivals.
One of the league's best home-field advantages comes into play as Fox wins his debut – narrowly – and Denver avenges a pair of humbling beatings by Oakland last season.
The Pick: Take points and Raiders.
brandon lloyd - darren mcfadden - denver broncos - hue jackson - jason campbell - john fox - knowshon moreno - kyle orton - oakland raiders - terrelle pryor