Get your Raider Hater hats out because the Broncos and the Oakland Raiders (1-1) meet for the first time this season. Despite Mike Shanahan’s absence, the Raiders will be out for blood. This is arguably one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL making the Black Hole a place where even the most established players can be swallowed up. Just ask the San Diego Chargers after their near loss in week 1. The Raiders are a different force this year. Last week they skidded past the Chiefs with a middle finger in the air as they only had 166 yards of total offense compared to the Chiefs’ 409. Same coach, same owner, different results. This may be the dawning of yet another new era for the Raiders as they can see some light at the end of the losing tunnel with their younger players carrying the shovels. Last season, the Broncos put their offensive boot down on the Raiders on Monday Night Football, and then lost to them towards the end of the season when Denver’s defense iced over. This year, however, the defense has thawed and they want at the young QB who looks for like a lineman. This game could have a significant impact come December when the AFC West title is up for grabs. My Prediction: Broncos 20 Raiders 17.
Broncos - If the 2nd half offense from last week carries over to this game, we should be in fine shape. Kyle Orton will have a trouble going deep because of the talent in the Raiders secondary. He also won’t have too much time to throw the ball since that defensive line up front carries a lot of weight and physicality. The Broncos running game is going to need to carry this team, at least until the field opens up a little bit more. Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter will be counted on once again to be the backbone of the running game. The good thing about this passing offense is you can’t predict who will have a big game. Passes are spread throughout the field to different players. In week 1, it was Brandon Marshall leading the team in receptions, and in week 2, it was Brandon Stokley. Hopefully, the versatility of the pass game will be an advantage against this interception hungry defense.
Raiders- The endzone is somewhat of a foreign environment to the Raiders and this carries over from last season. While JaMarcus Russell is a physical specimen (6’6”, 260 lbs), he hasn’t found his rhythm as an NFL QB. Maybe he’s like the child in school whose parents are going through a divorce and he’s not able to concentrate on his school work. That’s what was happening last year as Al Davis and Lane Kiffin nearly threw down, and that’s what happened this year when Tom Cable and defensive assistant, Randy Hanson, did throw down. Just win fight baby! Russell is guy with an open head wound. It’s very easy to get inside and throw his game off. The offensive line is without Robert Gallery after he broke his leg last Sunday. Leading the team in receptions and receiving yards are Louis Murphy and Zach Miller. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush are handling the ground game with 1 TD a piece in two games. The talent is there. Things just haven’t come together for this squad yet.
Broncos - What an opportunity to really put a “Broncos Defense!” stamp on the forehead of the Raiders. The team is allowing the fewest amount of points in the league, and they’ve got the 3-4 and their new outside linebacker to thank for it. Dr. Doom a.k.a. Elvis Dumervil is a headache catalyst for opposing offenses. A little pressure from him, Darrell Reid, and Andra Davis up front allows Brian Dawkins and Champ to do their jobs. I really see this defense limiting the production of Zach Miller with Dawkins and D.J. Williams surrounding him. Getting to JaMarcus Russell early in the game will throw him off for the duration. The Broncos have 3 picks thus far, and they could get an easy 2 off of this frazzled QB. I do see the Broncos having more trouble with the Raiders ground game than their air game. McFadden and Bush are talented backs that could keep the Raiders in the game if the Broncos are having trouble on offense.
Raiders- The Broncos offensive line is standing in the line of fire. They will want to see less of Seymour when this game is over. Despite limited practice with his new team before game 1, Richard Seymour has led this defense to a 9th overall ranking in points allowed. While his stats aren’t that significant beyond a couple of sacks, he’s provided the New England hard-nosed mentality that this group needed. Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard are each averaging 7.5 tackles a game while Greg Ellis has 3 sacks this season. We all know that corner Nnamdi Asomugha has a nose for the ball, but it’s Michael Huff who has the biggest snout for the ball this season. He’s got 3 picks alone so far. These two guys will be headhunting Kyle Orton passes as if there’s a $4 million reward for them. Who knows. Maybe Al Davis is offering one. This defense will give away a lot on paper, like 409 yards to the Chiefs, but they somehow managed to still win the game. It’s this defense that will keep the Raiders afloat until the end.
Broncos - I had to go and give credit to Matt Prater a couple weeks ago, and then he makes me look like a fool for hyping him. He missed 2 field goals last week (in a heavy crosswind). He better watch out for a heavy hot air crosswind coming from the mouths of Raiders fans. Peyton Hillis fumbled the opening kickoff last week, and his duties were immediately relinquished and given to Eddie Royal. Please, coach! Stick to Fast Eddie. No one has really done any damage on the returns and that needs to happen to lessen the load on the offense.
Raiders- Louis Rankin is taking care of the kick returns (18.0 yard average, 23 yard long) while Johnnie Lee Higgins is handling the punt returns (12.0 yard average, 19 yard long). Either one of these guys is capable of breaking one loose though. As usual Sebastian Janikowski is right on the money making all field goals and extra points this year. Shane Lechler has put 3 out of 11 punt attempts inside the 20 yard line and he’s averaging 53.9 yard per punt. That’s good enough for 2nd best in the league right now.
Broncos - Josh McDaniels is feeling the streak. It’s not the same kind of feeling he got when New England went on their streak, but hey, it’s better than a losing one. I think he’s over the micro-managing of this team, and he’s focusing on the overall game plan. McD isn’t a trend setter. He goes with what works, and you can bet that he’s studied every play that Oakland has run this year. Now that his offense has a little momentum, he’s going with a similar type of play calling strategy to tire the Raiders defense. He will know the Raiders weak spots and hit them hard - with the same kind of force Tom Cable puts in his punches.
Raiders- Tom Cable enters his 2nd year as head coach after taking over for Lane Kiffin on an interim basis. I thought Al Davis would’ve hired someone else to come in, but I guess he likes his upper cut. Cable is a good head coach, but does make some questionable decisions on critical plays. He’s capable of out coaching McD in this one, but I don’t think he has the players to execute.
Tags: Andra Davis Brandon Marshall Brandon Stokley Brian Dawkins Champ Bailey Correll Buckhalter D.j. Williams Darrell Reid Darren Mcfadden Denver Broncos Eddie Royal Elvis Dumervil Greg Ellis Jamarcus Russell Johnnie Lee Higgins Josh Mcdaniels Kirk Morrison Knowshon Moreno Kyle Orton Louis Murphy Louis Rankin Mat Prater Michael Bush Michael Huff Mike Shanahan Nnamdi Asomugha Oakland Raiders Peyton Hillis Richard Seymour Robert Gallery Sebastian Janikowski Shane Lechler Thomas Howard Tom Cable Zach Miller