The Raiders are visiting the mile high city facing arguably the best team in the NFL through 2 games in the Denver Broncos. Through 2 games, the Broncos are averaging a league high 46 points, and have been virtually unstoppable.
The offense led by Peyton Manning, has carried the load as defensive star Champ Bailey recovers from injury and Von Miller serves his suspension. The Raiders come into this game fresh off a 19-9 win over the lowly Jaguars with Terrell Pryor looking decent through 2 games.
With Ryan Clady out for the rest of the season, Chris Clark will be filling in at left tackle. Clady’s injury isn’t as devastating as it could have been because Clark took all the first team reps during the pre-season with Clady out with a shoulder injury at the time. Clark held the fort throughout the summer and won’t be as dominant as Clady, but will definitely fill in admirably.
With the left tackle position set, the Broncos offense can proceed as normal with Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas who’s been a major surprise with 3 touchdowns through 2 games. The rushing offense hasn’t been that effective with Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, and Knowshan Moreno all splitting time in the backfield.
Terrell Pryor leads the Raiders 2nd ranked rushing attack into Denver. Darren McFadden and Pryor have combined for 339 yards making a nice dual running threat. But the passing attack is ranked 29th. Pryor has completed 34-53 passes (64%), for 343 yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions thus far. If Oakland falls behind early, it’s unlikely Pryor would be able to keep up with the offensive firepower of the Broncos. Rod Streater is the leading receiver for the Raiders with 112 yards on 8 catches.
The offensive edge clearly goes to the Broncos. Oakland simply doesn’t have nearly the amount of weapons that Peyton has at his disposal.
The Raiders defense currently ranks 4th in the NFL giving up 261 yards per game, but hasn’t forced a turnover and safety and defensive leader Tyvon Branch is out for the season after breaking his leg last week. That does not bode well for the rest of the season, and what makes it harder is that this is the first week Oakland will be without Branch. Expect Peyton Manning to abuse Brandian Ross whose expected to fill in at strong safety.
The pass rush has been good so far and must show up Monday night. That means Jason Hunter and Lamarr Houston have to expose Chris Clark to make Peyton Manning as uncomfortable as possible.
Denver’s defense is giving up 384 yards per game, but that’s in large part because the team has been playing with huge leads. The Broncos are likely getting Champ Bailey back, which is a major boost to the secondary. The key for Denver though is keeping Pryor in the pocket. That falls on the shoulders of Robert Ayers, Kevin Vickerson, and the rest of the Broncos front 7.
The defensive edge goes to the Raiders, because Oakland is simply better defensively than Denver is. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to stop Peyton Manning what so ever in this one.
Kicker: Matt Prater vs. Sebastian Janikowski
Punter: Britton Colquitt vs. Marquette King
Return Man: Trindon Holliday vs. Jacoby Ford
Sebastian Janikowski easily has the strongest leg in the NFL, and maybe in NFL history for the Raiders. But Janikowski’s leg hasn’t really mattered in Oakland as the Raiders continue to consistently lose. Marquette King has been excellent punting this season and currently ranks 5th in the league with a 48.8 yard average. Jacoby Ford is still shaking off the rust returning kicks and has averaged 24 yards on his 3 returns.
Matt Prater hasn’t been used much in Denver making both of his 2 attempts with the Broncos scoring touchdowns as opposed to settling for field goals. Britton Colquitt has been ok punting averaging 44.1 yards per punt. Trindon Holliday though has been electrifying this season, especially last week against the Giants when he returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown. Holliday is one of the most explosive return men in the game.
Mainly because of the way Trindon Holliday can change a game, the edge on special teams goes to the Broncos, although Oakland’s special teams aren’t too bad either.
Even without Ryan Clady, the Denver Broncos are still a much superior team than the Raiders and there’s no reason why Denver won’t win big.
Broncos 35 Raiders 14