Raiders: Game breakdown and prediction for Week 17 against the Denver Broncos

Raiders (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Raiders (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

It’s do or die time for the Oakland Raiders who take on the Denver Broncos this week in a massive Week 17 divisional showdown.

With playoff implications on the line, the Oakland Raiders head up to the Mile High City to take on the Denver Broncos who are 3-1 in their last four tilts.

To this point, it’s been an up-and-down kind of year for the Raiders with sky highs and deep lows, but can they come together for one more week and find a way to sneak into the postseason? Let’s take a look at this Week 17 matchup.

It’s worth noting that this Raiders season is beginning and ending against the Broncos. On opening day Monday Night Football, the Raiders dominated these guys in a 24-16 contest in which the final score is misleading.

The Raider offensive line held the stacked Broncos pass rush to a grand total of zero sacks and Josh Jacobs had himself an impressive rookie debut going for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries — though he won’t be active for this week’s game.

This time around, however, we have two completely different teams squaring off. Denver has been through the wringer and has lost its fair share of pass rushers including Bradley Chubb and Derek Wolfe along the way, as well as Joe Flacco at the quarterback position.

In the case of the Raiders, they’ve lost Trent Brown on the offensive line and a slew of defensive players via injury and being cut from the roster entirely.

Denver has become a much better team with rookie quarterback Drew Lock taking the reigns upon his return from early-season IR, and their defense has settled into Vic Fangio’s system despite losing key players to injury.

Oakland has been pretty much the same in terms of their growth this year despite a good stretch of games where the defense was playing great and the young pass rush was starting to get its feet under it.

But the way I think this game is going to go is in the direction of a shootout because the Raiders can’t stop much of anything nowadays on defense and Denver has lost its driving force in their secondary in Kareem Jackson due to suspension.

This is a great matchup on paper for the Raiders, and possibly exactly what they need in order to potentially steal a playoff spot.

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A lot of things need to happen in order for the Raiders to make it to the playoffs, but first and foremost, they need to win this game. And if history means anything in deciding the outcome of these games, the Raiders have won only once in their last seven trips to Mile High.

But although it may be statistically improbable, this Raiders team has proven all year long that you can’t put your finger on them. They win games they’re supposed to lose and lose games they’re supposed to win.

They’re 3.5 point underdogs this week, so the smart pick here is probably Denver being that they’re at home and they have the better defense. But you know what, let’s have some fun here and go with the Raiders to steal this game 34-31 in a wildly fun shootout.

I can’t remember the last time I was right on a Raiders pick, but maybe this week I can get back into the win column by breaking out of my shell a bit and going against my gut feeling.

Does this mean the Raiders make the playoffs? I don’t know.

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I tend to like their chances as improbable as they may seem since what needs to happen is Indianapolis beats Jacksonville, Baltimore beats Pittsburgh, Houston beats Tennessee, and one of Chicago, Los Angeles (Chargers), New England, or Detroit need to win.

To me, that doesn’t look too bad even though it appears to be a lot. When we really stop to think about it, is Devlin Hodges going to be able to beat that Ravens defense even if it rests some guys with the way he’s been playing for the Steelers?

Is Tennessee going to show up and win at Houston for the first time since 2012 and the Texans still playing for positioning? Is Jacksonville going to be able to upset a healthy Colts team looking to pull even to 8-8 on the season in their first stint without Andrew Luck?

Those seem like pretty tall tasks for Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and Jacksonville.

And in the case of the other four mentioned teams, I would say the odds of (at the very least) one of those teams being victorious this week are about as good as you could hope for.

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Obviously, the Raiders need to win here and they need to get a little lucky after, but I don’t necessarily hate their chances at coming out of this thing with the number six seed in the AFC.