Broncos - Raiders Week 9 Preview

The Denver Broncos are visiting the Oakland Raiders this week at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The 4-3 Raiders are coming off their Bye week after being shut out by the Kansas City Chiefs 28-0 in Week 7. The 2-5 Broncos are trying to regroup after a 45-10 shellacking at the hands of the Detroit Lions on their home turf. Denver would also like to avenge the 23-20 Week 1 loss that Oakland stole at Mile High. Eight weeks have passed and there have been personnel changes to both teams since that Monday Night game. With that in mind, let's look at this matchup.

Weather and Conditions

Game time is set for 2:05 pm MST on Sunday November 6th at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, also known as "The Black Hole." It seats 63,132 fans and has a natural dirt playing surface.


The contest will be broadcast nationally on CBS. The inept Greg Gumbel will call the play-by-play and his equivocally brain dead partner Dan Dierdorf will ruin things with his color commentary. Check here for the NFL Broadcast map to find out what games are in your area.


The weather forecast is predicting a muddy game on Sunday. Here is the current report at post time.

Shra
Chance Rain Showers
Temperature: 46/58f

For the up to the minute weather report, check here.

 Injuries and external factors


Oakland's starting quarterback in the first game between these two teams was Jason Campbell, but he suffered a broken collarbone Week 6 against Cleveland. Two days later, the Raiders traded the house and garage to pry Carson Palmer away from the Cincinnati Bengals and he will be their starting quarterback this week. Oakland also picked up Linebacker Aaron Curry, Wide Receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh and Cornerback Lito Sheppard recently, to bolster a team hit by  injuries. WR Derrick Jones (Achilles), S Hiram Eugene (Dislocated hip), LB Travis Goethel (Knee), OG  Alan Pelc, RB James McCluskey, LB Ricky Brown (Concussion) and DE Matt Shaughnessy (Shoulder) have all been lost to Injured Reserve for the season. Couple that with starting Running Back Darren McFadden likely being held out this week and we may have an interesting game.

For that matter, the Broncos have changed some things as well. Kyle Orton is no longer the starting quarterback. Tim Tebow now leads the team. Willis McGahee has a broken bone in his hand, which may create a problem holding on to the ball if he successfully lobbies for playing time. If he doesn't play, Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball and Tebow will carry the ball.

OFFENSE

Here is a breakdown of the Oakland Offensive rankings compared to the Broncos Defense.

Raiders Broncos
Offense Rank Category Rank Defense
22.9 16th Points For 31st 28.6
365.6 12th Total Yds 20th 367.4
206.3 23rd Pass Yds 19th 249.7
159.3 2nd Rush Yds 17th 117.7
8-38yds 1st Sacks T-12th 18-127 yds
N/A N/A Forced Fumbles N/A 7
10 T-4th Interceptions T-28th 3-75 yds
39.60% 16th 3rd Downs 18th 40.00%
8.50% 12th Overall DVOA 22nd 9.40%
-2 T-19th Turnover Margin T-30th -8
29 8th QB Hits N/A N/A

 

DVOA is from FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS and is explained here.

This will be Carson Palmer's second game with the Raiders and he says he's comfortable. So far, he has thrown 3 interceptions and no touchdowns, but his career completion rate is 62.8, so he shouldn't be shutout much longer. With leading rusher Darren McFadden looking like a no-show this week, Michael Bush (237 yds, 4.0 avg, 3 TDs and 9 catches for 111 yds) will get most of the workload. He had a 99 yard day last week against the Chiefs. Expect rookie speedster Taiwan Jones to get some touches as well, as he and Bush have been splitting carries in practice.

At Receiver, Darrius Heyward-Bey (27 catches, 434 yds, 1 TD) leads Oakland. Denarius Moore (14 Rec, 212 yds, 2 TDs) is the #2 guy. Chaz Schilens (7 Rec, 65 yds, 1 TD), who returns from a groin injury and Jacoby Ford (11 Rec, 114 yds) are the other Wide outs. Don't forget about TJ Houshmandzadeh either. Carson Palmer has a rapport with him from Cincinnati. Tight End Kevin Boss (8 Rec, 161 yds, 1 TD) returns from a concussion this week, putting Brandon Meyers (6 Rec, 38 yds) back on the bench.

The Offensive Line shouldn't change much. Center Samson Satele has been limited with a knee injury and if he can't go, rookie Stefan Wisniewski will slide over from his Left Guard spot and Bruce Campbell will take Wisniewski's place. LT Jared Veldheer, RG Cooper Carlisle and RT Khalif Barnes round up this group.

Oakland has a very good running game, although it isn't quite the same without McFadden.

DEFENSE

Here is a breakdown of the Oakland Defensive rankings compared to the Broncos Offense.

Raiders Broncos
Defense Rank Category Rank Offense
25.4 27th Points Against 23rd 19
382.9 25th Total Yds 27th 305.4
266 25th Pass Yds 30th 179.6
116.9 16th Rush Yds 8th 125.9
16-93 yds T-18th Sacks 24th 22-134 yds
9 N/A Forced Fumbles N/A N/A
7-19 yds T-16th Interceptions T-11th 8
43.90% 25th 3rd Downs 21st 34.40%
9.40% 23rd Overall DVOA 28th -13.20%
68-600 yds 1st Penalties T-30th 35-323 yds
N/A N/A QB Hits 18th 36

 

The Raiders employ a 4-3 Base look on Defense, with LDE Lamarr Houston (19 TKL, 1 SK, 1 INT, 1 FR), LDT Richard Seymour (20 TKL, 5 SK), RDT Tommy Kelly (21 TKL, 2.5 SK, 1 FR) and RDE Matt Shaughnessy (7 TKL, 1 SK) at the Line. At Linebacker, Quentin Groves (21 TKL, 1 FR) is the SAM and Kamerion Wimbley (24 TKL, 1 SK) is the WILL. At the MIKE position, Rolando McClain (43 TKL, 1 SK) is nursing an Ankle injury. If he cannot go, Darryl Blackstock, who made 6 of his 10 Tackles against Kansas City last week, is the next man up.

Starting LCB Chimdi Chekwa is out, so newly acquired Lito Sheppard will likely take his spot. Rookie DeMarcus Van Dyke (11 TKL, 1 INT) may get some playing time as well. Stanford Routt (24 TKL, 1 INT) patrols the right side. At Free Safety, Michael Huff (20 TKL, 1 INT) has been hobbled by a sore Ankle and Matt Giordano (26 TKL, 1 SK, 1 INT, 1 FR) is coming off a Neck injury. My guess is that Giordano starts and gets the gist of the work, as Huff has been limited in practice this week. The Strong Safety is the Raiders  leading Tackler Tyvon Branch (56 TKL, 1 INT, 1 FR).

The Raiders are beat up in their back 7 and the Broncos should try to take advantage of that.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Raiders Special Teams Broncos
52.2 Punt-Avg(Gross) 50.1
40.3 Punt-Avg (Net) 43.6
7 Punt Ret-Avg 15
15.5 PR-Avg Allowed 9.3
23.7 Kick Ret-Avg 26.3
22.5 KR-Avg Allowed 29.5
12/13 FG Made/Att 7/10
1.20% 10th Overall DVOA 11th 0.70%

 

Kicker Sebastian Janikowski is fighting a bad left Hamstring and hasn't participated in practice this week, but the Raiders waived Dave Rayner a week ago, so Sea-Bass will most likely play. He is 12/13 on the season, a 92.3% success rate. Bronco fans witnessed his record-tying 63-yard Field Goal on Monday Night in the opening week. Janikowski has made all 16 Extra Point Attempts. His kickoffs land at the 5-yard line on average and he has 19 touchbacks in 34 Kickoffs. 14 have been returned an average of 22.5 yards.

Punter Shane Lechler, who is also the Holder on Field Goal Attempts, has punted 34 times for an average of 52.2 yards (1st), a net of 40.3 (9th) with 4 touchbacks, 5 Fair Catches and 10 Inside the 20. His longest of the year is a 77-yarder. 21 of Lechler's punts have been returned an average of 15.5 yards and 1 touchdown.

Jon Condo is a 6th year veteran who has handled all the long-snapping duties for Oakland the last four seasons. He earned his first Pro Bowl selection following 2009 season. Condo has 2 Tackles this season.

Oakland's Punt Returner is Denarius Moore, who has returned 14 punts for a 7.1 yard average and a long of 21 yards. Moore has made 4 Fair Catches. 

The Kick Returners are Jacoby Ford and Taiwan Jones. Ford has returned 8 Kickoffs for a 35.4 yard average, including a 101-yard touchdown. Jones has 5 returns under his belt at an average of 16.2 yards with a long of 28. 

The Special Teams Units matchup well between Oakland and the Broncos. The differences I see is the edge in Field Goal Kicking goes to the Raiders at the moment, but the Broncos have better coverage and return Units.


SERIES HISTORY

Denver has a 41-59-2 record against Oakland and they are 11-6 in Oakland since the Raiders returned to Northern California. The Raiders hold a 6-4 lead over the last 10 meetings, including a narrow 23-20 victory in the opening game of this season. Oakland has prevailed in the last 4 games against the Broncos. Last year the Broncos lost at Oakland 39-23 on December 19, 2010. The last time Denver won in Oakland was a 23-3 victory on September 27, 2009.

In their Week 1 matchup this year, the Broncos had difficulty running the ball, racking up a meager 38 yards on the ground. Kyle Orton threw for 304 yards and if not for the 3 Turnovers, Denver could have claimed victory. Now it's up to Tim Tebow to figure out how to effectively use his receivers to take advantage of a weak Oakland secondary. The Raider Defensive Line will have plenty to say, since they are stout against the run.

The line in Vegas has the Raiders favored by 8 points.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Even with Darren McFadden out, Michael Bush can still bring it. Carson Palmer and TJ Houshmandzadeh have a past chemistry to draw from and the big Receiver has been a big Red Zone target in the past. The Broncos need to muster some kind of running game to help keep the Raider Defense on it's heels and give Tebow a chance to find his receivers. Getting the ball wide on quick outs, swing passes and tosses will force make Oakland's Linebackers to make plays instead of the Line. The Broncos need to start converting on 3rd Down as well. If they can't, it will be a quiet flight back to Denver.

Go Broncos!                    
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