Raider haters are out in full force this week. Here in Denver, we don’t throw welcome parties for Al Davis and Co. We quickly grab all our blue and orange gear and head out to Invesco thanking our lucky stars that Mike Shanahan was fired by Davis 20 years ago. The Broncos already beat the Raiders (2-8) in their first meeting of the season. It was a Monday night game in Oakland that saw the Broncos rack up 41 points to the Raiders’ 14. A great way to start off the season! Since then, each team has it’s highs and lows. Okay, well Oakland hasn’t seen many highs unless you consider Lane Kiffin’s departure a genius move. The Raiders have lost the last 4 games while the Broncos hope to build on their 2 game winning streak. The Broncos are 40-52-2 against the Raiders all-time in the regular season, but they’ve won their last 6 of 7 against the them. A Mike Shanahan coached Broncos team holds a 21-6 record against them. Who says Shanahan got over his release? My Prediction: Broncos 31 Raiders 13.
Broncos - The Broncos should go off against this defense again. Jay Cutler has cut down on his turnovers in the last couple of weeks, and he’s not forcing the ball into Brandon Marshall as much. Lately, the offense has had trouble getting started as they’ve had to pull off 2nd half comebacks in the past two games. With the home crowd behind them, that should not happen against the Raiders. Getting Peyton Hillis and Tony Scheffler involved early will open things up for big plays down the field later in the game. The offensive line continues to do an amazing job protecting Cutler. Rookie Ryan Clady and 2nd year man Ryan Harris have not allowed a full sack this season. They are Pro Bowl candidates for sure. That helps explain why the Broncos are 3rd in the league in passing offense. Give Cutler enough time, and he is sure to spot a receiver down field. This offense can score in a hurry when the game is on the line. Now, let’s see if they can do with a big lead.
Raiders- A Raiders touchdown might just send this team into a joyous celebration. The offense has not seen the end zone in 13 quarters of play, and they may have forgotten what it looks like. During the season, they have failed to score a TD in the first quarter, they have scored just 1TD in the first half, and they have scored 9 TDs in 10 games. What were JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden, and Javon Walker supposed to do for this team anyway? Right now, Russell is day-to-day, Walker is out for the season, and McFadden starts the game on the bench. What is an Al Davis owned team to do? Why get rid of DeAngelo Hall of course??? Anyway, back to the offense, or lack thereof. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if they scored one touchdown against the Broncos on Sunday. There are obvious gaps in the Broncos defense, and the Raiders are in desperate search of the full 7 points.
Broncos - It has gone from good to ugly to descent, back to ugly and now the defense is descent. Who knows what kind of team will show up on Sunday. Lately, the defense has made big fourth quarter stops to give the offense a chance to get back on the field and win the game. Jamie Winborn has been playing incredibly well, and Spencer Larsen and Wesley Woodyard are playing better than the players they replaced. Karl Paymah continues to improve, but Champ Bailey may be back in the lineup against the Raiders. Since all of the defensive injuries, the secondary has racked up some interceptions, and the team is stopping the run on a more consistent basis. They’re never going to be as good as the Steelers defense, but as long as they’re not giving up big plays, I’m a happy camper. The Raiders do have a strong running attack, so the Broncos will need to focus more on that aspect of the Raiders gloomy offense.
Raiders - The Raiders defense (25th) is actually ranked a bit higher than the Broncos defense (29th). They held Carolina to 17 points, and they held the N.Y. Jets to 13 points in a win. DeAngelo Hall was released a couple of weeks ago, which leaves Nnamdi Asomugha to step up in the secondary. Chris Johnson replaces Hall and many have identified him as the fastest guy on the team. Both Johnson and Asomugha have their hands full with an entire fleet of talented wide receivers. Shanahan has said that Asomugha “is the most underrated player in the history of the game.” Damn! What a compliment! Kirk Morrison is 3rd in the league in tackles and Kalimba Edwards is in the top 25 in sacks. The Raiders do have some talent to be able to stop the Broncos’ passing offense, so their running game must get off to an early start.
Broncos - I get very excited every time Eddie Royal has the chance to return a kick. Last week, he tallied 159 yards in kick returns. He is #5 in the league in all purpose yards, and he is #1 in kick return average. The guy does all this on special teams, and then makes big catches on offense. No wonder he’s many people’s favorite player. Matt Prater missed another field goal last week showing that he is human after all.
Raiders- The Raiders return game is not too shabby either. They have Johnnie Lee Higgins running it back for them, and he’s got 1 TD on a punt return. However, the Raiders are not too good at covering kicks. Sebastian Janikowski is 18 for 24 on field goals which ranks among the bottom in the league.
Broncos - We can always expect big things from Shanahan when he faces his former team. He holds a grudge against Al Davis as Davis still owes him money. You might think beating this team over and over again would get old, but it never does for Shanahan.
Raiders - Tom Cable comes into Denver for the first time as a head coach. He’s bound to see how pumped up this city gets when the Raiders Faders come to town. Let’s face it. Al Davis is really the coach of this team. Cable is just better looking, so he takes to the sidelines.
Topics: Al Davis, Brandon Marshall, Champ Bailey, Chris Johnson, Darren Mcfadden, Deangelo Hall, Denver Broncos, Eddie Royal, Jamarcus Russell, Jamie Winborn, Javon Walker, Jay Cutler, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Kalimba Edwards, Karl Paymah, Kirk Morrision, Lane Kiffin, Matt Prater, Mike Shanahan, Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders, Peyton Hillis, Ryan Clady, Ryan Harris, Sebastian Janikowski, Spencer Larsen, Tom Cable, Tony Scheffler, Wesley Woodyard