Betting Broncos-Raiders

An old rivalry with a new face -- Peyton Manning takes on the Oakland Raiders tonight. AP Photo/Greg Trott

After a one-week reprieve, we're back to the Thursday night stinkers that are best for gambling and fantasy. Just the way I like it.

Tonight's Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders game has playoff implications only for the Broncos, winners of seven straight and contenders for a first-round bye. Peyton Manning has emerged as the favorite for league MVP and possibly comeback player of the year (likely competing with Adrian Peterson for both). The looming possibility of a Broncos-Colts playoff matchup has fans giddy.

The big story coming out of Oakland this week has been the possibility of the Raiders turning back to their old coach Jon Gruden. With the Raiders, nothing is ever discounted. Nutty possibilities always seem realistic. Since Gruden departed after the 2001 season, Oakland has had seven coaches. Two of them, Art Shell and Hue Jackson, only lasted a year, so it wouldn't be without precedent for the Raiders to dump Dennis Allen after his first year.

According to ESPN PickCenter, the public is backing the Broncos at a solid 57.2 percent rate. In related news, the public backs all favorites that are 10 points or more 100 percent of the time.

Let's get line analysis from Jay Kornegay and a pick on the game from professional handicapper Sal Selvaggio of madduxsports.com.

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

Spread: Opened Broncos minus-9.5, now minus-10
Total: Opened at 49, now 48