2-4 from the outside looking in might seem like there is little hope, but for the Denver Broncos this is not so. In a relatively weak division, the Broncos are only a game and a half out of first. However, the rest of the division is either tied with them or ahead of them. But still, the future is looking bright for Denver, and the remaining schedule has a lot to do with it. As the best teams often say in the NFL, you have to take it one game at a time, so without further adiu, here's a look at our next game.Let's get this out of the way. I hate this team and so do we all. I always take consolation in mediocre games and seasons by looking back at the Raiders. Plain and simple, they lack talent and they aren't coached very well either, a dangerous formula in the NFL as the Raiders have proved with their record setting bad seasons. The Raiders came into this season with high hopes based on Jason Campbell and a new and "improved" Defense. However, this ideal comeback does not look as though it will come into fruition.
Starting with their O, they rank 21st in yards per game and 14th in total points, although that might be a little bloated because of their great ST play against the Chargers, which led to a 35 point game, a point total they havent even been within 11 points of besides this anomaly. 21st actually seems pretty improved over the offense they had last year led by Jamarcus Russel, however, thanks to NFL.com, I discovered that the Raiders are actually ranked 8th in plays ran from scrimmage on O. What does this mean? Well, it means they should actually have more yards, considering they run so many more plays then the rest of the league. After years of BW heaping praise on the Raiders running game, their run game has seemed to have reached its potential, being ranked 10th in rushing yards/game, with a respectable 4.2 yards/carry which ranks them 14th in the league. This comes with a caveat as well though. They have to date, 3 rushing TD's, a number even our decrepit running game has surpassed. Also, the run defenses they have faced to date are not overly impressive. They have faced the: 20th (SF) 14th (STL) 29th (AZ) 13th (Texans, a team that gets killed in the air so bad few teams dont even bother running on them) 10th (TN, another, same deal as Texans) and the 5th ranked Chargers, on whom they ran for a very good 111 yards. Their run game is good, and it seems like this could be a match-up they try to exploit on our 25th ranked run D, although I will say that number could be bloated due to the abortion of a Ravens game we played. Our Run D has been pretty impressive as of today despite this ranking, and have shut down or held in check very good running teams and RB's.
Moving on to their passing game, Jason Campbell has not proven to be the next Jim Plunkett, despite Al Davis' promise. They rank today the 23rd passing O, and have yet to submit a 300 yard passing game. They also have only 6 TD passes, ranked 23rd as well, and are tied for 2nd in the league with 8 INTS. Plain and simple, Their passing game stinks. Our Pass D is currently ranked a solid 15th in yards, but we have let up 9 TD passes which ranks us tied for 11th most, however, I would like to add that since letting up a horrid 3 TD's to David Garrard, we have only let up 6 TD's in 5 games. If we can check their run game and force some third downs where they need to pass, our D should handle the Raiders O. Also, I would like to add that their best passing game (278 yards) came against the worst ranked pass D in the Texans.
Onto their D: It's currently ranked 22nd in the league. It would appear the one bright spot for this D is their Passing D which is ranked 8th! in the league. However, taking a deeper look as this title would indicate, the Raiders have only been thrown at 172 times, tied for 24th in the league. Why are teams throwing so little to them? BW would have you believe that it is probably because teams are afraid to throw to the demi-god in Asomugha, but their Run D probably better shows why: They are ranked 30th! Teams seemingly run at will against them and just abandon their passing game to run all day, which is shown in the 3rd rank rush attempts against them with 179. If Denver continues to build on their running success they showed against the Jets, this could be a huge game for our run game. However, all is not lost if we can't run against them. If we do decide to test their untested Pass D, we could see some success in points, as they have let up a staggering 12 TD's, tied for 2nd most. Their D, quite honestly, is atrocious, and has only held the 49ers and Rams under 20 points, teams ranked 25th and 21st respectively in total points.
Key match-up: Oakland run O vs. Denver run D. If the Raiders can pull off a similar running game outing as did the Ravens, we can be in for a long game. On the other side of the coin, if we can keep their run game in check, we pretty much kill whatever shot they have at winning, by essentially taking away the only positive they have. McFadden is still nursing a bad hammy, and even if he does manage to come back for this weekend he might not have the burst he had before the injury, something bad hammy's generally tend to do. I would like to add as well that even if McFadden comes back at near 100 %, we have fared well against scat backs, considering our OLB's have been doing a great job in contain.
Overview: I usually don't like saying a game should be a win, but in this case I must. I see only one aspect that they have a chance to beat us in (see key match-up) and even if they do, that does not guarantee a win, as seen in the Cards game and the Titans game. If Denver plays as well as they did against the Jets, and FINISH the game, this should be a W. Hopefully the crowd can duplicate their efforts if this is close, just in case, although I hope it won't be needed. Lord knows we need a statement win at home following our last 2 games.
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