NFL 2017 Week 4: Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos preview and prediction

Two traditional rivals meet for the first time this season in Denver with both trying to get to 3-1.

After starting the season 2-0, the Raiders went into Washington on Sunday night and were dominated by the Redskins 27-10. It was an uninspired performance in all aspects of the game. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins torched the Raiders secondary for 365 yards and three touchdowns. The Raiders offense was inept, managing only 128 yards. Except for a third-quarter touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Jared Cook, there was nothing to cheer about if you were a Raider fan in this one.

The Broncos blew an opportunity to go to 3-0 by losing 26-16 to the underdog Bills in Buffalo. The Broncos actually out-gained Buffalo but they couldn’t finish drives, settling for three field goals and a lone touchdown run by Jamaal Charles. Quarterback Trevor Siemian threw two interceptions that severely hampered the team’s second-half comeback effort. The Broncos were able to hold down Bills running back LeSean McCoy, but they allowed Tyrod Taylor to control the ball with short passes, as he completed 20 of 26.

Who was worse?

A week ago this looked like the premiere matchup on the Week 4 slate, a potential game between 3-0 rivals who hate each other. Well everything else still stands except the 3-0 part, which fell by the wayside as both suffered ugly losses. On the one hand, Oakland lost to a postseason contender the past few seasons, but they were utterly terrible in every area. The Broncos were in the game, but lost to a team that’s clearly rebuilding. If either team suffers a hangover, the other should benefit.

Raider receiver woes

Going into the season, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper looked like the best receiving duo in the league. That duo was held to a combined two catches a week ago. And Josh Norman could only cover one at a time. Things won’t get any easier against the Broncos lockdown corners of Aqib Talib and Chris Harris battling them this week. And coach Jack Del Rio had to publicly defend Cooper for his yips catching the ball this year. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Siemian on the spot

Just a week after turning in a stellar performance in a win over Dallas, Siemian was extremely spotty in the loss to Buffalo. This will be a crucial game for both teams, especially considering how Kansas City has started the season in the AFC West. All the doubts that people have about Siemian likely resurfaced in that ugly loss last week, but he can go a long way to silencing them by lighting up a Raider secondary that looked lost on Sunday night.

Matchup to Watch: Broncos WR’s Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders vs Raiders CB’s David Amerson and TJ Carrie

The Broncos offense goes through Thomas and Sanders, who have now been the lead dogs through three different quarterback regimes with the team. Meanwhile Anderson and Carrie weren’t the main culprits in Kirk Cousins’ big night on Sunday, but they didn’t make many plays either. They could turn this game with a timely pick or two of Siemian, but their main jobs will be to contain this dynamic duo.

Fantasy Football Tip: Raiders TE Jared Cook

With Crabtree and Cooper on the roster, it seemed unlikely that Cook would be tied for the team lead in receptions after three games, but that’s where he stands with his 13 catches. Most teams try to stay away from Talib and Harris for understandable reasons. That again puts Cook into play as one of Derek Carr’s top targets.

Betting Tip: Denver (-2.5)

Denver just seems on a little bit firmer ground on the offensive end, which is why they should cover the 2 1/2 point spread at home.

Prediction: Oakland Raiders 13-30 Denver Broncos

Denver rebounds at home while the Raiders fall further into a funk.

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