Critics are painting a picture of gloom and doom for the Denver Broncos, but let’s not overlook one positive from Sunday. Darren McFadden and the Oakland Raiders were held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
It’s the same old story with the Raiders, right? Just when things are looking up, they unravel at the end.
In another twist to a bizarre NFL season, the Tom Cable-coached Raiders, often the butt of jokes throughout the league, knocked the Broncos to rock bottom with a 59-14 blowout in Denver.
Who thought this was possible? This season, anything is possible.
“It remains a very difficult league to handicap,” Las Vegas Hilton sports book director Jay Kornegay said. “You just never know what you’re going to get.”
During my brief discussion with Kornegay, the Broncos fumbled three times. The Raiders led 24-0 in the first quarter and 38-7 at halftime. McFadden scored four touchdowns, including one on a 57-yard run midway through the third quarter.
“I find it hard to believe. It was a hideous performance by the Broncos, one of the worst I’ve ever seen,” Kornegay said. “It’s ridiculous. There’s no excuse for something like that. It looked like the Denver defense was playing with nine guys.”
Kornegay was being kind. It appeared the Denver defense was playing with five guys.
The Raiders closed as 7-point underdogs and paid plus-270 on the money line. Some sharp bettors sniffed what was coming.
“It was Broncos money all week, driving the line up to 8½,” Kornegay said, “and this morning there were a few big plays on the Raiders, driving the line down to 7. We know the Raiders aren’t this good, but everything was going their way.”
It was a Sunday fit for “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” There was plenty more from the world of the weird:
n The Cleveland Browns stunned the Saints 30-17 at New Orleans. The Browns closed as 12½-point underdogs and paid plus-550 on the money line.
Drew Brees threw four interceptions, two that Browns linebacker David Bowens returned for touchdowns. Brees, not long ago the Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl, has lost to two rookie quarterbacks, the Browns’ Colt McCoy and Arizona’s Max Hall, in his past three games.
“There are some disappointments in the NFL with teams that had high expectations and are not performing to those levels. The Saints are right at the top of the list,” Kornegay said.
“I guess the hangovers in New Orleans just last a little longer. The Saints just do not seem interested. They are playing with no enthusiasm, and they were not in the game at all. It’s odd.”
n Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger appeared to fumble on a late touchdown dive against the Miami Dolphins. There was confusion about which team recovered the ball in the end zone. After a video review, the Steelers, 3-point favorites, were awarded the ball and won 23-22 on a field goal.
“The Steelers might have benefited from a controversial call,” Kornegay said.
n DeAngelo Hall intercepted Chicago’s Jay Cutler four times, returning one 92 yards for a score after a circus catch, to lift the Washington Redskins to a blooper-filled 17-14 victory.
n The Buffalo Bills, 12½-point underdogs, exploded en route to a 24-10 lead at Baltimore. The Ravens came back, the Bills sent it to overtime, and the Ravens escaped, 37-34.
n With a 23-6 lead in the fourth quarter, the New England Patriots were coasting in San Diego. But the Patriots barely avoided a stunning collapse and a failed fourth-down call by Bill Belichick.
It all made sense in the end, as a Chargers penalty and a missed field goal allowed the Patriots to survive with a 23-20 win.
n Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings celebrated wildly after Favre seemingly beat Green Bay with a dramatic touchdown pass to Percy Harvin. But a review showed Harvin had one foot out of bounds, and the Packers held on, 28-24.
Underdogs are 8-5 against the spread in Week 7, which Kornegay said was “OK to good” for most Las Vegas sports books.
It was a Sunday that saw the Raiders win by 45 points on the road, believe it or not.
Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts the “Las Vegas Sportsline” weeknights at midnight on KDWN-AM (720) and thelasvegassportsline.com.