Oddsmakers don’t expect much this season from the Raiders, who have one of the NFL’s lowest win totals (6½) and are as high as 22-1 long shots to win the AFC West and 100-1 to win the Super Bowl.
But the long odds and recent off-field drama involving pass rusher Chandler Jones haven’t stopped sharp and recreational bettors alike from backing the Silver and Black in Sunday’s season opener at Denver.
The Broncos climbed from 3½-point to 5½-point favorites in the offseason, but the line has since dropped back to 3½ at most sportsbooks and to as low as 3 at the Westgate SuperBook.
“We took some sharp money on the Raiders at +4. The public is on the Raiders, too, in Nevada, which is not a big surprise,” SuperBook director John Murray said. “Denver had a lot of injuries to their wide receiver corps, and the popularity of the Raiders locally.
“I’m not super worried about it. At least at the start of the year, the book will probably need the Raiders’ opponent. But if the Raiders get off to a poor start, the public will quickly abandon ship.”
The line dropped from 5½ to 4 at Station Casinos when Broncos wideout Jerry Jeudy suffered a hamstring injury Aug. 25 that threatened to sideline him for the season opener. Jeudy is now listed as questionable for the game.
The line dipped to 3½ when Raiders running back Josh Jacobs returned to the team after holding out for a new contract.
“There has been a lot that has changed in the last week, but the sharps and the public right now appear to be on the Silver and Black,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “The ticket count clearly favors the Raiders by a margin of over 2-1. It looks like we’ll be Broncos fans when the game kicks off.”
So will the South Point, which also reported sharp action on the Raiders.
“We need the Broncos pretty good,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said Friday afternoon. “We opened 4½, and they bet me up to 5. Then they took the 5, they took the 4½, they took the 4 and now we’re at 3½, and they’re still taking the 3½. I feel it will be at 3 between now and game time.”
The total has dipped from a high of 44½ to 43, and Esposito said the ticket count is 2-1 in favor of the under.
“The game has gone from 3½ up to 5 and now back to 3½. A lot of that was from Jerry Jeudy getting hurt in practice,” Circa sportsbook risk manager Dylan Sullivan said. “Now the total has dropped some for the same reason, plus bad weather.”
The forecast calls for rain Sunday. The under is on a 10-3 run in the series.
The Raiders have won the last six meetings with the Broncos and eight of nine. The best money-line price on the Raiders is +155 at Station.
Handicapper Doug Fitz won the Review-Journal NFL Challenge last season with a 56-32-2 record against the spread (63.6 percent). Fitz, who runs the free handicapping website Systemplays.com, made the Raiders one of his picks this week based on two Week 1 systems.
Fitz noted that divisional road underdogs of 6½ or less are 18-7 ATS (72 percent) since 2013, and that road teams that won between four and six games the prior season (Raiders went 6-11) are 49-21 ATS (70 percent).
Player to score first TD
At Station Casinos
Josh Jacobs +550
Davante Adams +650
Courtland Sutton +650
Javonte Williams 7-1
Jerry Jeudy +750
Samaje Perine 9-1
Any other Raiders player 10-1
Greg Dulcich 10-1
Any other Broncos player 10-1
Marvin Mims 12-1
Jakobi Meyers 14-1
Russell Wilson 15-1
Adam Trautman 18-1
Hunter Renfrow 20-1
Michael Mayer 22-1
Brandon Johnson 22-1
Austin Hooper 25-1
Zamir White 28-1
Jimmy Garoppolo 30-1
No TD scored 70-1