As Broncos fans, we’ve waited long enough for this day. I expect the Broncos to come out of Oakland with a mark in the win column. Final score: 28-13. Let’s break down the game from both teams’ perspectives.
Broncos – Jay Cutler has a clean slate so to speak. He preformed well in the preseason and with his diabetes under control, he should be confident enough to get his third season off to a strong start. The Broncos are without Brandon Marshall for one game due to his suspension, but look for rookie Eddie Royal to partially fill that large gap. Darrell Jackson will be matched up against Raiders corner Nnamdi Asomugha, so expect Royal to have a lot of balls thrown his way. Selvin Young and Andre Hall will be running behind an offensive line that doesn’t have a single starter back from last season. The #1 draft pick for the Broncos, Ryan Clady, will be starting at left tackle while Ryan Harris will start at right tackle. Penalties were a problem for these two youngsters during preseason. If there is a nice balance between the running game and the passing game, it should keep Oakland back on their heels enough for the Broncos to get into the redzone. All they have to do is convert.
Raiders – Look for Oakland to favor their running game. JaMarcus Russell should be a little on edge considering it’s he’s a first year starter at QB. The Raiders are probably itching to let their #1 draft pick Darren McFadden out of the gates. Big time off season signee, Javon Walker, will play despite a hamstring injury, but don’t expect big numbers for him since he is going up against former teammate, Champ Bailey. Unless McFadden gets off to a strong start then don’t expect Russell to perform well in his week 1 debut (Russell did come off the bench in three games last year, but only started once against San Diego in the season finale) because of the experience and talent on the Broncos’ defensive roster.
Broncos – The team made some key acquisitions in the off-season to help the secondary. Dewayne Robertson and Boss Bailey should help shut down the Raiders’ running game. The Broncos defense should cheat a little into a run support defense until JaMarcus Russell can prove his worth. Champ Bailey and Dre Bly know exactly how to match up against Javon Walker considering they practiced with him last year. Bailey also knows about Ashley Lelie’s speed since Lelie burned many fast corners in his years as a Bronco.
Raiders - The Raiders could not stop the run at all in 2007. We’ll see if the 50 million dollar man, Tommy Kelly, can help stop the run. However, the team is very strong in the secondary especially with their off season acquisition of DeAngelo Hall. Hall will partner with Nnamdi Asomugha to stop the Broncos small but quick wideouts. Derrick Burgess and Jay Richardson will be the guys trying to put pressure on Jay Cutler, but expect the Broncos offensive line to create a nice pocket for Cutler.
Broncos – Eddie Royal will be kept very busy Monday night as a starter on offense and the team’s punt and kick returner. He has incredible speed that should surprise a lot of people in this league. The kicking game is a bit of a concern for Broncos fans considering Mr. Auto-Pilot himself, Jason Elam, went to the Falcons. Matt Prater will be replacing Elam and Brett Kern will be the new punter. Special teams is full of youth and you can guarantee that special teams’ coach, Scott O’Brien, is telling his guys to just hold onto the ball and avoid penalties.
Raiders – Their punter, Shane Lechler, is coming off of a Pro Bowl season. Field-goal kicker, Sebastian Janikowski, has only made 70 % of his field goal attempts in the past three seasons. Johnnie Lee Higgins is back to return punts after being demoted from the job last year because of fumbles. This special teams unit has potential, but if the game is on the line, don’t expect big things to happen from this group.
Broncos – We know about Mike Shanahan’s hatred for the Raiders. He always wants revenge because Al Davis fired him four games into the 1989 season. He will pull out all the stops to win this nationally televised game on week 1.
Raiders – Lane Kiffin has got a lot to prove, and the weight of Raider Nation rests on his shoulders. With talented guys at QB and RB, Kiffin will need to stop playing so conservatively if he is going to impress anyone in the league. I don’t think he’s willing to shoot from the hip against the Broncos, though.
Tags: Al Davis Andre Hall Ashley Lelie Atlanta Falcons Boss Bailey Brandon Marshall Brett Kern Champ Bailey Darrell Jackson Darren Mcfadden Denver Broncos Derrick Burgess Dewayne Robertson Dre' Bly Eddie Royal Jamarcus Russell Jason Elam Javon Walker Jay Cutler Jay Richardson Johnnie Lee Higgans Lane Kiffin Matt Prater Mike Shanahan Nnamdi Asomugha Oakland Raiders Ryan Clady Ryan Harris Sebastian Janikowski Selvin Young Shane Lechler Tommy Kelly Deangelo Hall