Champ Bailey always gets up to play the Oakland Raiders (DenverBroncos.com)

Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders: Game Preview

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The Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders both head into the week 4 contest with a 1-2 record. Both teams got their lone win off of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Raiders have won four consecutive games in Denver. The last time they won more than four straight was when they won eight in a row from 1965-1972. The Raiders have an all-time regular season record of 59-42-2. This is the first divisional game for the Broncos while the Raiders already lost to the San Diego Chargers 22-14 in week one. Game time is set for 2:05 p.m. MST on CBS.

Offense

Broncos: Finally, the Broncos offense take on a little bit of an easier defense. That’s not to say that they should roll over at kickoff like they have the past two weeks in which they put up 5 points total in the first quarter. Peyton Manning needs better protection from his offensive line. He’s already been sacked 8 times in three games which puts him on pace for a career-high in sacks. Likewise, the Broncos’ receivers need to step up and make the difficult catches. Manning had a career-high 26 incompletions against the Houston Texans last week, and many of them were not his fault. The Broncos can put some major points up on the board in a hurry. Whether they can do it right out of the gates is another story.

Raiders: The Raiders put up 34 points against the Steelers last week. They have a very capable offense, with Darren McFadden being the heartbeat of the squad. McFadden has rushed for 150, 119, and 165 yards and 4 touchdowns in the last three games that he’s played against the Broncos. He’s also a great receiving threat. As good as McFadden is on the ground, the Raiders are still 31st in rushing. Where they’ve excelled thus far is in the passing game where they are ranked 8th in the league. Carson Palmer threw three touchdowns last week and he’s got an 89.3 QB rating on the season. The line is doing a great job of protecting him as he’s been sacked just 4 times this year.

Defense

Broncos: Finishing tackles and stopping the run is the name of this game. The Broncos sit in the middle of the field, ranked 13th against the rush and 15th against the pass. The troublesome spot as been at linebacker where now the team finds themselves minus one starter with the Joe Mays suspension. Keith Brooking will likely take his place. The Broncos gave up 4 touchdown passes to Matt Schaub last week, so the secondary is another area of focus. Will Tracy Porter, who had two touchdown passes thrown on him, come back strong or is another continuation of troubles at right corner for the Broncos?

Raiders: The Raiders are 26th in points allowed (29.3 per game), 26th in passing yards allowed (264.7 per game), and they’re one of three teams without an interception on the year. They also rank 30th in sacks with just 3 thus far. The one thing this defense excels at is getting their hands on the ball. They are 4th in forced fumbles (4). Dennis Allen knows the Broncos better, so expect an improved defense at least this game. Philip Wheeler is leading the team in tackles (25) and Matt Schaughnessy is leading the team in sacks (1.5).

Special Teams

Broncos: Rookie return man Omar Bolden is just a couple of slipped tackles away from returning one all the way. He had a long of 30 yards last week. The kicking game continues to be the Broncos strong suit with punter Britton Colquitt placing 4-of-15 punts inside the 10 yard line, and 7-of-15 inside the 20 yard line.

Raiders: The Raiders had major special teams woes in week one when they botched three punts. However, they have arguably the best kicker in the game in Sebastian Janikowski who is a perfect 6-for-6 on the year with a long of 51 yards. He hit a 63-yard field goal in Denver last season.

Coaching

Broncos: Getting the team ready to play early on is key for this coaching staff. Inject them with coffee, lock them out of the locker room, whatever you have to do.

Raiders: Allen gave his team wooden baseball bats prior to their win last week. The bats read, “Bring the Wood” as a message to his players to lay it all out there. You can bet he’s getting his team up for this one too with more motivational tactics. What coach doesn’t want to win his first game against his old team?

Prediction: Broncos – 31 Raiders- 17. 

For those of you attending the game, make sure to park your car at Atmosphere (1630 Federal Blvd.). When you mention Predominantly Orange to the parking lot attendant, he will take $10 off the $40 price to park your car, plus give you a free drink coupon good for before or after the game. It’s just a 3-minute walk to the stadium from there.

Enjoy the game!

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