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Raiders prepare for Broncos without head coach

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Raiders prepare for Broncos without head coach

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Being mired in a five-game losing streak with a short week to get ready for Peyton Manning and the first-place Denver Broncos is tough enough.

The Oakland Raiders have to do it without their head coach.

Dennis Allen left the team after Sunday's 20-17 loss to Cleveland to be with his father, who has a serious medical issue. Allen is expected to rejoin the team on Wednesday night and be on the field Thursday when the Raiders (3-9) host the Broncos (9-3).

But until then, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp will oversee the team and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver will map out the defense.

``This is a pretty unique season, both on and off the field, I'll say that,'' Tarver said Monday. ``There's a bunch of adversity and the true character of a man and a coach and whoever is to, no matter what the circumstances, be a pro and handle your business. But I've been a part of a lot of different situations, both in this league and in coaching, but there's some unique things that have happened this year.''

Allen is with his family in the Dallas area helping to care for his 66-year-old father, Grady, a former NFL linebacker with the Atlanta Falcons. Knapp said he texted Allen on Monday morning to pass on good wishes and planned to talk to the head coach as the team prepared for the Broncos.

Oakland did not practice on Monday and will have two brief practices before the game Thursday. With the short week, the position coaches had begun some of the scouting of the Broncos last week to allow the coordinators to put together the game plan on Sunday night and Monday.

Allen, a former defensive coordinator in Denver, is typically heavily involved in the defensive game plan, while giving more general tips about philosophy for Knapp to use on offense.

``Today we went right into a normal Tuesday routine for coaches,'' Knapp said. ``We started game planning this morning for Denver, and then our practice schedule for the next two days will obviously be a little bit shorter because our guys need to still recover from this game and get ready for the next game. From a game-plan standpoint, you condense maybe three days of practice into two. From a coaching standpoint, you've done a lot of work ahead of time, so you can make it happen a little bit sooner during the week.''

While Knapp is officially in charge of the team while Allen is away, he said the only real additional responsibility he will have is to decide when to blow the horn to move to the next practice period.

Some of the players just learned of Allen's absence on Monday and wanted to pass their best wishes on to their coach and his family. They said it will be hard to concentrate entirely on the Broncos knowing what Allen is going through.

``I think it will because obviously we'll be caring about his situation, just wondering what's going on,'' cornerback Michael Huff said. ``But we know we have a game to get ready for. It will because we'll be worried about him, but I think we'll still walk on the field and focus.''

The Raiders will need to be at their best to have a chance against the Broncos. Oakland has lost five straight games and was carved up by rookie Brandon Weeden on Sunday in the loss to the Browns.

Now the defense must deal with Manning, who was 30 for 38 for 338 yards and three touchdowns in Denver's 37-6 home win over Oakland in Week 4.

The Raiders are also dealing with a number of injuries in the secondary, with starting free safety Matt Giordano, backup safety Mike Mitchell and backup cornerback Phillip Adams all leaving Sunday's game with concussions.

The three will need to pass the league's concussion protocol in order to play Thursday, which could be difficult because of the short week.

That could lead to a patchwork secondary on Thursday night.

``You're never really ready for Peyton Manning,'' Tarver said. ``It's a matter of getting on the same page and having enough coverage looks to hopefully slow down his progression and challenge guys in coverage, that's what we need to do.''

NOTES: RBs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson are expected to play after missing the previous four games with sprained right ankles. ... The Raiders are hosting their first Thursday game since Oct. 25, 1979, against San Diego. They have played eight Thursday road games since then.

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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: The West is set while the Caps still have work to do

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: The West is set while the Caps still have work to do

There are only two series left in the first round that have yet to be decided. The Caps just so happen to be playing in one of those series.

After falling into a 0-2 hole to start, Washington has rattled off three straight wins and now sits just one away from putting away the Columbus Blue Jackets and advancing to the second round.

Should the Capitals advance, they will play the Pittsburgh Penguins for the third consecutive season.

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The Penguins ended their series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in Game 6. Jake Guentzel scored four goals in the effort proving once and for all that yes, goaltending is important in the playoffs. Head coach Mike Sullivan has still yet to lose a playoff series as the head coach of Pittsburgh as he led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons.

In the Atlantic, the Tampa Bay Lightning await the winner of the Boston Bruins - Toronto Maple Leafs series after dispatching the New Jersey Devils in five games. After a strong regular season, the Maple Leafs looked poised to take the next step, but Auston Matthews has only two points in five games and Toronto faces elimination at the hands of the Bruins Monday in Game 5.

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All four series in the West, meanwhile, have already been decided. Both the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks managed four-game sweeps in the first round and will face one another in the second  The miraculous season of the Golden Knights continues and it would be hard to argue at this point that they are not legitimate Stanly Cup contenders considering all they have accomplished in both the regular season and the playoffs.

Wins by the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets now sets up a second-round battle between the top two teams in the league from the regular season.

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The betting houses are bearish on the 2018 Redskins

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

The betting houses are bearish on the 2018 Redskins

With the NFL schedule dropped last week, many fans and media types went through and predicted wins and losses for the teams they follow, just for fun. But others predict the records of teams and it’s not for laughs, it’s for very high stakes.

The betting houses in Las Vegas and offshore have established their lines for over/under in wins. They then take this a step further and go through the playoffs to establish the odds of winning the Super Bowl. 

Over the weekend, BetOnline published one of each and let’s just say that they do not like what the Redskins have done this offseason. Or, more accurately, they think that the public perception is that the Redskins will not be a very good team this year. 

Their over/under for wins is 5.5. They won seven games last year so the under would represent a decline of at least two wins. This line seems to be low. The Redskins won seven games last year with the worst injury situation in the league, per the numbers crunchers at Football Outsiders. They also faced one of the toughest schedules in the league in terms of opponent winning percentages. 

Yes, they did lose Kirk Cousins to free agency but they replaced him with Alex Smith, who, like Cousins, is not elite or even in the top 10 but in the category of solid, reliable quarterbacks. The QB exchange was close to a wash. But despite the fact that the chances are they will suffer fewer injuries and face a schedule that isn’t as much of a meat grinder, this over/under has the Redskins producing double-digit losses. They have managed to stay out of 10-plus loss territory for three straight years. 

There are more reasons to think that they will win at least as many games as they did last year than there are to think that they will win fewer. If I’m betting, which I’m not, I’d be tempted to hit the over on that pretty hard. 

I would keep my money in my pocket when it comes to betting on the Redskins’ chances of winning the Super Bowl. I don’t think they’re close, but I think they’re much closer than the Browns but BetOnline has Cleveland and Washington with the same odds of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. The Redskins, Browns, and Bucs are at +6600 to win it all. The Redskins odds are worse than all but six other teams. 

Again, I don’t think that the Redskins are going to win the Super Bowl. Winning a playoff game would be quite an accomplishment for them. But same could be said of the Colts, Giants, Chargers, and 49ers, but they all have considerably better odds than the Redskins. 

In fact, there may be some irrational exuberance with the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo. They have the seventh-best odds at +1600. Sure, Jimmy G was very good in five meaningless games at the end of last season. Let’s see how he does with some pressure on and after defensive coaches have had a chance to study how to take away his strengths. It just goes to show you how little real analysis goes into this. 

I get a little annoyed when teams play the disrespect card, especially when they have to look too hard to find it. But if the Redskins look at this, they certainly can embrace the underdog role if they want to. What they do with it, we will find out starting September 9. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.